WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Pakistani and U.S. forces have arrested the top Taliban military commander in Karachi, Pakistan, U.S. government officials said.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was taken into custody several days ago in a secret operation and has been subject to interrogation since then, The New York Times reported Monday.
U.S. officials said Baradar was the most significant member of the Taliban to be taken into custody during the eight years since the United States and allies invaded Afghanistan, the Times said. He is said to be more influential within the Taliban than any other member except Taliban founder Mullah Muhammad Omar -- and was described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington.
There was no indication whether Baradar was talking to U.S. and Pakistani interrogators, the Times said. However, officials said his arrest had provided information about Taliban operations and there was speculation the development could lead to further arrests of senior Taliban officials.
Bruce I. Riedel, a CIA veteran who directed an Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review for the Obama administration in 2009, said the arrest of Baradar could hinder Taliban military operations, the Times reported.
U.S. and Afghan forces have been engaged since last week in a major offensive operation in southern Afghanistan.