The capture of Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s number two in Af/Pak, is undoubtedly a coup for U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials. Not least because it could land intelligence on an even bigger fish, Taliban founder and Osama bin Laden associate Mullah Omar.
The New York Times reports:
It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.
And in contrast to the politicization and counterproductive leaks from the White House surrounding the interrogation of Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for instance, the initial questioning of Baradar appears to have been accomplished with relative secrecy, upping the chance it could yield actionable intelligence.
The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other.
The Times is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region. [emphasis added]