Taliban mentor said dead in captivity in Pakistan

Imam worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Taliban mentor said dead in captivity in Pakistan

A former Pakistani spy who helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan is believed to have died while in captivity, government and security officials said on Monday.

Retired Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, also known as Colonel Imam, was kidnapped along with fellow former spy agent Khalid Khawaja and a British-Pakistani journalist, during a visit to Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border in March 2010.

Khawaja's bullet-riddled body was found in April in North Waziristan. The journalist, Asad Qureshi, was freed in September.

Tariq Hayat, the senior government official dealing with tribal areas, said he had received reports that Imam was dead.

"I have been informed by the political agent that Colonel Imam is dead," Hayat told Reuters, referring to a top government official in North Waziristan. He gave no other details.

Intelligence officials in North Waziristan also confirmed Imam had died, though military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said he has had no confirmation about Imam's death.

A previously unknown group, the Asian Tigers, took responsibility for the kidnapping, accusing the three of spying. The group demanded the release of Afghan Taliban commanders detained in Pakistan in exchange for the prisoners.

Both Imam and Khawaja had close links with the Taliban and other groups, as well as the U.S government, according to Reuters news agency.

Imam worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He trained a number of mujahideen, or holy warriors, and their leaders, including the Afghan Taliban's chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

In an interview with Reuters in January last year, Imam said Omar valued his help during the Afghan jihad.

Imam also served as Pakistani consul general in Herat in western Afghanistan during Taliban rule and only left the country in 2001, when Pakistan officially abandoned the Taliban and joined the U.S.-led campaign against insurgents.


Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2011, 16:46
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