In a move which some officials are saying could have as much significance as any previous capture since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, US officials are saying that Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured along the Pakistani border and is now being “interrogated.”
Baradar is at the very least in charge of military operations for the Taliban in the southwestern portion of Afghanistan, and appears to have also assumed a de facto role as Mullah Omar’s top adviser since the 2007 arrest of Mullah Obaidullah, the former Afghan Defense Minister.
Yet Obaidullah’s capture was hardly a game-changer in the war, and at any rate his whereabouts are unknown at this point and he may well have resumed his position. The Taliban maintains they managed to negotiate Obaidullah’s release in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap for Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, though Pakistan denies that such a swap ever took place.
Mullah Baradar was responsible for the 2009 Rules and Regulations handbook issued to Taliban fighters which, among other things, ordered them to make efforts to avoid civilian casualties in their attacks. He was also, as so many Taliban have been, reported killed in 2007 by the Afghan military, though clearly this was not the case.