The Afghan Taliban's military commander was captured last week in a joint American-Pakistani operation and is now talking with authorities and providing intelligence, according to Pakistani intelligence and government officials and a senior American official.
However, one U.S. official said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is not quite cooperating with authorities and that they have not gotten anything actionable from him. Baradar is also saying that he has not seen Mullah Mohammed Omar, the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban, though the official added that might literally be true as the men probably don't meet face to face.
Though some believe Baradar may be a "potential" reconciler, this official believes Baradar is hard core and ruthless and that possibility is unlikely and that the interrogation and the gleaning of any information could take a long time.
Baradar's's general location in the Pakistan port city of Karachi was first obtained by the CIA and then narrowed down by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, according to the senior Pakistani government official. ISI officers then arrested Baradar late last Wednesday or early last Thursday, with CIA knowledge of the entire operation. Baradar is believed to have been visiting, or near family at the time of his capture. He was picked up at a residence where he offered no resistance.
"This operation was an enormous success," the senior American official told ABC News. "It is a very big deal."
Baradar is second in command only to Mullah Omar, who U.S. officials also believe is hiding in Pakistan. But Baradar has essentially been running the Afghan Taliban, responsible for the day-to-day military operations, much of the Taliban's financing, and for being Omar's consigliere.
The official described Baradar as Mullah Omar's CEO and Omar himself as Chairman of the Board. Barader is an inner member who has been with Omar since the beginning. He ran operations for the Taliban.
Baradar fought alongside Omar in Afghanistan against the Soviets and is married to Omar's sister. The story of his capture was first reported by The New York Times.
Baradar rose to become the functional head of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership group based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta. He guided the Afghan Taliban's military strategy as well as its tactics, especially in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, where 15,000 troops are currently fighting the Taliban. He also helped control the Afghan Taliban's purse strings, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of Taliban financing.
"The money flowed through him," the official said.
U.S. officials in Washington were thrilled by the news of Baradar's capture, who was seen not just as Mullah Omar's right hand man but as a possible successor.
"This is a huge catch," a senior administration official tells ABC News. "We haven't had something like this since the start of the war."
So what happens now inside the Taliban? Officials say there will likely be a period of disarray and extreme paranoia within the organization as it purges those elements they believe are responsible for this capture. They add that it's possible the Taliban will bring out someone quickly to replace Baradar to give the sense that all is well in the organization.