Mulvi Kabir, the former Taliban governor in Afghanistan's Nangahar Province, and a key figure in the Taliban regime was recently captured in Pakistan, two senior U.S. officials tell Fox News.
Kabir, considered to be among the top ten most wanted Taliban leaders, was apprehended in the Naw Shera district of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province by Pakistani police forces in recent days.
A senior U.S. military official in Afghanistan called Kabir a “significant detention."
The intelligence that led to Kabir's capture was gathered from Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s second in command, who was picked up roughly two weeks ago in Karachi, Pakistan by a joint CIA and Pakistani intelligence operation.
Baradar’s capture has been followed by a series of major detentions within the Taliban’s ranks, individuals U.S. officials are describing as “shadow governors” who operate from the safety of Pakistan’s frontier and tribal regions.
In addition to Kabir, Mullah Salam of Afghanistan’s Kunduz province and Mullah Mohammad, who reportedly controlled the Baghlan province, were both captured after Baradar and together all are considered by experts to be the most important captures Pakistan has made in relation to the Taliban in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.
The Pentagon said on Thursday the “Taliban is clearly being squeezed” on both sides of the border. Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell would not speak directly to the intelligence that led to these detentions, but said “our hope is clearly that this is creating a certain amount of discontent, worry, [and] turmoil within the organization.”
Acknowledging the difficulty US and NATO forces have had fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan Morrell said he hopes these arrests will “ultimately adversely impact the momentum that they have enjoyed over the past several months.”
Speaking to reporters in Islamabad yesterday, Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said the capture of top Taliban military strategist Mullah Baradar is “very significant” and “represents another high-water mark for Pakistani and American collaboration."
The series of arrests began days after Pakistan announced it would like to have a larger role in the future of Afghanistan by offering to help with Afghan Taliban reconciliation efforts. Asked to explain the sudden increase in support from Pakistan, General David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Pakistan has come to realize Taliban can no longer be seen as a nuisance only to the West.
“Some ten months ago… the Pakistani people, their political, including the major opposition figures and even the clerics, all recognized the threat posed to the very writ of governance of Pakistan.”