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NATO: Senior Taliban Leader Captured in Afghanistan

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A Taliban field commander has been recaptured after breaking his pledge not to fight Afghanistan's government.  VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kabul this marks the third time the Taliban figure finds himself nabbed by his foes.

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan says NATO-led troops have captured a Taliban field commander with close links to the insurgency's senior leadership.

NATO announced that Mullah Sakhi Dad Mujahid, along with another insurgent, was caught without a shot being fired four days ago in the province of Uruzgan.  Mujahid was the leader of a "significant" number of insurgents, according to NATO and Afghan officials.

A high-ranking Interior Ministry official tells VOA News Mujahid had been covertly directing a guerilla group conducting suicide attacks in and around the provincial capital, Tirin Kot.  The official, who did not want to be named, says Mujahid "broke his word" to reconcile with the democratically-elected government and sever ties with the Taliban, following his release after capture and interrogation in 2004.

At that time, Mujahid was apprehended with a satellite phone containing the numbers of top Taliban figures, including the head of the movement, Mullah Omar.  Mujahid is said to be the brother-in-law of Omar.

A former foreign ministry official during the Taliban's five-year rule, Wahid Mazhda, tells VOA news that many of the captured Taliban, professed to having reformed themselves, are actually returning to their previous life as combatants.   

"Yes, this is common with the Taliban.  When they are released from jail and they go back to the front line.  I know some of these type of Taliban, released from Guantanamo, and they go back to the battlefield," Mazhda said.

The Taliban were driven out of Kabul in 2001 by U.S.-led forces but have regrouped in the southern part of the country.

Mujahid's latest detention marks the third time he has been captured.  He was held by the Northern Alliance for several years in the late 1990s.  He was released in a prisoner exchange deal and reportedly was named to a prominent position in the Taliban government.


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