The former operations chief and second in command of the Afghan Taliban has been "singing like a male canary" since his arrest last month in Karachi, Pakistan, counterintelligence officials said Wednesday.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was captured by Pakistani authorities in a raid, has become "a vital asset in gathering information on the Taliban and other extremist groups operating in the region," an unnamed Pakistani official told The Washington Examiner.
The intelligence gleaned from Baradar is aiding both U.S. and Pakistani efforts to seek out the terror group's leadership in the region, the officials said.
"He obviously does not want to be released under any circumstances. He would not survive after the information he has given the government," one Pakistani official told the paper.
The Afghan Taliban's leadership has dispersed to cities across Pakistan to avoid arrest after the recent detention of senior militants, officials and militants told The Wall Street Journal. Western officials say the growing pressure on militant leaders, if maintained, represents one of the best hopes for undermining the twin insurgencies threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The dispersion of Taliban leaders is slowing the process of replacing the group's No. 2, say militants and tribal elders with ties to the insurgents. Mullah Baradar was arrested in late January, and at least three other major Taliban figures have since been picked up, along with a handful of second-tier leaders, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.
The Afghan militants and the affiliated Pakistan Taliban have also faced major territorial setbacks from military offensives on both sides of the border over the past six months. Yet they remain potent forces, as evidenced by car bombings in both countries over the past two weeks. The Taliban is a highly decentralized movement; even without top commanders, fighters can skirmish, launch hit-and-run ambushes and bury improvised bombs along dirt roads—tactics that have often stymied vastly superior military forces.
But the leadership vacuum, says a senior North Atlantic Treaty Organization officer, should hamper the militants' ability to fight off major offensives, like the planned coalition move later this year to reassert control over Kandahar the Taliban's spiritual and strategic heartland in southern Afghanistan.
"Foot soldiers will only be able to follow their last order," the officer said. "Their ability to conduct cohesive and coordinated operations—the more organized and strategic stuff—will be significantly deteriorated," he said.
The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.