Taliban's No. 2 Leader Captured in Pakistan

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The Taliban's top military commander is now behind bars.

His name is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and according to U.S. officials the 42-year-old was second-in-command of the Taliban, has close ties with Osama bin Laden, and is the most senior figure arrested since Sept. 11.

The CIA is now questioning Baradar for intellegence, as U.S. Marines push deeper into an insurgent stronghold in Afghanistan. Terror trackers his arrest is a"significant blow" for the Taliban. It could  could be a turning point in the fight against the Taliban

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck discusses the implications of this capture and how big a deal this capture is in the war in Afghanistan. Click play for his comments, following this report.

"Given the significance of this individual there will be a significant impact on the ability of the insurgency," Hanif Atmar, Afghan Interior Minister, said.

Baradar directed much of the Taliban's insurgency against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. He was nabbed in Karachi, Pakistan, about a week ago in a secret raid by CIA and Pakistani intelligence forces.

"Pakistan is trying hard in respect of the war on terror, and this arrest shows the efficiency of Pakistani agencies," Afzal Nadeem Dogar, a local journalist, said.

But the head of a pro-Taliban group that supports Islamic Sharia law believes Bardara's replacement is waiting in the wings.

"It won't make a difference if Mullah Baradar has been arrested or martyred," Mualvi Noor Muhammad, who leads Tehreeq Nifaz Shariat, said. "Very soon after, Mullah Omar is going to automatically appoint another person to his position."

Still, interrogators hope Baradar may have information on the whereabouts of the Taliban's top commander, Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. His arrest comes as U.S. and NATO forces are engaged in one of the biggest offensives against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

"It's the first time American forces have been over here in a while," Cpl. John Beatley, U.S. Army, said. "We are here to get rid of the Taliban and give the people of Marjah their freedom back."

It's day four into Operation Mushtarak and Taliban fighters aren't giving up that easily. They continue to launch a series of counterattacks against U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers in the militant stronghold of Marjah.

Marjah and the surrounding Helmand Province is the heart of Afghanistan's multi-billion dollar drug trade. This province alone produces over half of the world's opium. Drug money from here helps fund the insurgency.  So chasing the Taliban from Helmand could be significant victory for bringing long-term peace to Afghanistan.

"I would like to give this message to our enemy: we will not leave the area," Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan Defence Minister, said. "We will stay there at all cost to bring peace."

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

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