Pakistan May Have Secretly Freed Captured Taliban Leaders
U.S. officials say Pakistani spy agency released Afghan Taliban insurgents
By Greg MillerWashington Post Staff Writer Sunday, April 11, 2010
The recent capture of the Afghan Taliban's second in command seemed to signal a turning point in Pakistan, an indication that its intelligence agency had gone from helping the militant Islamist group to cracking down on it.
But U.S. officials now think that even as Pakistan's security forces worked with their American counterparts to detain Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other insurgents, the country's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures it had captured on its own.
U.S. military and intelligence officials said the releases, detected by American spy agencies but not publicly disclosed, are evidence that parts of Pakistan's security establishment continue to support the Afghan Taliban. This assistance underscores how complicated the CIA-ISI relationship remains at a time when the United States and Pakistan are battling insurgencies that straddle the Afghanistan border and are increasingly anxious about how the war in that country will end.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and declined to identify the Taliban figures who were released, citing the secrecy surrounding U.S. monitoring of the ISI. But officials said the freed captives were high-ranking Taliban members the United States would want in custody.
The capture of Baradar was "positive, any way you slice it," said a U.S. counterterrorism official. "But it doesn't mean they've cut ties at every level to each and every group." Initial reports said the arrest was made in February, but U.S. officials say that it occurred in late January.
U.S. officials think that Pakistan continues to pursue a hedging strategy in seeking to maintain relationships with an array of entities -- including the U.S. and Afghan governments, as well as insurgent networks -- struggling to shape the outcome in Afghanistan, even as it aggressively battles the Pakistani branch of the Taliban. LinkHere