Pakistan captures another top Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Kabir
If reports are true, Pakistan's capture of Mullah Abdul Kabir would be fifth Afghan Taliban leader seized in recent weeks.
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Pakistani forces have captured Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Kabir, a member of the central leadership and a top military commander, according to media. But while Pakistan's crackdown on the Taliban leadership continues, experts are divided as to its impact.
The New York Times reports that according to a Pakistani intelligence official, Mr. Kabir was seized several days ago in Nowshera, a city in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan (click here to see a map). Kabir is a member of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban's ruling circle that reports to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.
Mullah Kabir is a longtime associate of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder. He was the governor of Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Since then, he has overseen military operations in eastern Afghanistan, including those in Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Laghman Provinces.
The immediate impact of Mullah Kabir’s arrest remains to be seen. The Quetta Shura is thought to have roughly 20 people. A number have been killed or captured over the years, but the shura, and the Taliban, have gone on.
CNN also received word from Pakistani officials that Kabir had been arrested, though a Taliban spokesman denied it. And The Washington Post writes that Kabir may have been captured as long ago as mid-January, according to a Nowshera official.
Kabir's arrest, which US authorities could not confirm, would be just the latest in a series of Taliban officials captured by Pakistan in recent days. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's reported second in command, was seized in Karachi earlier this month, along with two Taliban "shadow governors," Mullah Abdul Salam and Mullah Mir Mohammad, from northern Afghanistan. The New York Times adds that the Pakistani official who reported Kabir's arrest also confirmed the arrest of a third shadow governor, Mullah Mohammed Yunis.
The Times writes that the arrests "appeared to mark a shift in Pakistani behavior. Although the motive remains unclear, the change is significant."