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Legendary Pakistani Spy Dies in Militant Custody

Legendary Pakistani Spy Dies in Militant Custody

A Pakistani government official says a former Pakistani intelligence officer who helped establish the Taliban in Afghanistan has died while in militant custody.

Sultan Amir Tarar, known by his alias "Colonel Imam," died of a heart attack while in militant custody in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area. He had been held since last March, when he was seized by militants, along with a fellow Pakistani intelligence officer and a British TV journalist of Pakistani origin.

News of his death came from Tariq Hayat, the government's top representative in the tribal region, who said he was informed of the development by district-level officials.

Tarar, a retired senior official of Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI), worked closely with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to funnel support to Afghan guerrillas fighting Soviet forces in the 1980s. He later developed close ties to senior Taliban leaders such as Mullah Omar when the Talilban seized power in Afghanistan. In recent years, he advocated negotiations with the Taliban but denied having operational ties with the insurgents.

The journalist seized with him last March was later freed, but the intelligence officer was killed by his captors.

Last July, a videotape of Tarar was released to the media in which he called for the release of militants being held by Pakistani forces.