Taliban leader involved in NYT journalist Farrell’s kidnapping among insurgents arrested in Afghanistan

October 5th, 2010 - 8:33 pm ICT by BNO News  

KABUL (BNO NEWS) — A Taliban district leader who was directly involved in the kidnapping of British New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell was among numerous insurgents arrested in operations across Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Tuesday.

ISAF said Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Taliban district leader for the Chahar Darah district of northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province during an overnight operation in neighboring Takhar province.

The alliance said the district leader, whose identity was not immediately released, was directly involved in the kidnapping of British New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell in September 2009.

ISAF said the security force targeted a compound in the Darquad district of Takhar province based on intelligence tips to search for the Taliban district leader. “Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the buildings peacefully and then the joint security force cleared and secured the compound,” ISAF said.

After conducting initial questioning with the residents at the scene, the security force identified and detained the targeted individual and two of his associates, ISAF added.

Farrell, who holds both British and Irish nationality, was kidnapped on September 5, 2009 when he and his Afghan colleague Sultan Munadi went to a village south of Kunduz. They were on an assignment to investigate a NATO-led strike which left dozens of Taliban insurgents killed, but also claimed the lives of more than a dozen civilians.

Several days later, on September 9, the British military led a dramatic pre-dawn helicopter mission to free the hostages. And while Farrell was freed unhurt, Munadi and a British soldier were killed. Several Afghan civilians were also reported to have been killed.

ISAF on Tuesday said the district Taliban leader involved in the kidnapping also maintained close ties with senior Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leadership in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, and allegedly terrorized the local communities by forcibly collecting taxes from residents, intimidating relatives of police and conducting attacks against government buildings.

“This is exciting news for the Afghan populace in Kunduz and Takhar provinces,” said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres. “He actively assaulted established governance and security in northern Afghanistan and his capture will greatly disrupt the insurgent networks future operations.”

During another operation in the village of Mazra’eh in the Arghandab district of southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province, a suspected Taliban leader who operated in the Dand district was taken into custody, ISAF said. He is believed to have conducted and coordinated attacks and armed Taliban fighters.

The alliance said intelligence tips led an Afghan and coalition security force to a compound in the village of Mazra’eh to search for the Taliban leader, whose identity was not released. ISAF said its forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the buildings peacefully after which the joint security force cleared and secured the compound.

After conducting initial questioning with the residents at the scene, the security force identified and detained the targeted individual along with two of his associates.

In another operation in Helmand province, ISAF said Afghan and coalition security forces detained several suspected Taliban insurgents while in pursuit of a suspected Taliban leader who allegedly commands up to 20 fighters in the Sistani area of Marjah district.

The alliance said intelligence tips led the joint security force to a remote compound in Marjah district to search for the Taliban leader. They used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the buildings peacefully and then moved in to clear and secure the compound.

In one of the buildings, the security force found a man shackled and locked in one of the rooms, who claimed he is an Afghan National Police member and said the Taliban had kidnapped him. ISAF said it was still gathering information to confirm his identity.

After the area was secure, the joint force conducted initial questioning with the residents at the scene before detaining the suspected insurgents. ISAF did not say how many suspected insurgents had been taken into custody.

The security force also found multiple grenades, AK-47 magazines and ammunition, along with 20 pounds of wet opium inside the compounds.

Other security developments in Afghanistan on Tuesday:

* Afghan and coalition security forces targeted an alleged Haqqani Network facilitator who supplies weapons used for attacks throughout the Musa Khel district of Khost Province during an overnight operation. ISAF said two insurgents were killed when several armed insurgents threatened the security force when they approached the area. One suspected insurgent was detained during the operation.
* Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Taliban senior leader operating in northern Sayed Abad district of Wardak province during an overnight operation. He is believed to be working directly for the Taliban leadership in Pakistan. “The targeted individual was extremely active facilitating attacks, weapons and improvised explosive devices,” ISAF said. One of his associates was also arrested.
* Afghan and coalition security forces captured a suspected Taliban leader who facilitated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and provided guidance to his subordinates conducting attacks in the Yosuf Khel district of Paktika province. Several of his associates were also detained, but ISAF did not provide a number.
* A suspected Taliban senior leader who allegedly commands the Jaldak improvised explosive device cell which conducts regular attacks on Highway 1 - also known as Ring Road - in Zabul province was targeted during an overnight operation, ISAF said. The alliance said the targeted individual maintains ties with several foreign fighter facilitators and Taliban leadership operating in the region and said intelligence tips led the security force to a remote compound south of Hajji Abdollah Kalay in Tarnek wa Jaldak district to search for the suspect. After questioning residents, several suspected insurgents were detained.
* ISAF on Tuesday confirmed that a Taliban facilitator for an IED attack network operating in the Qalat district of Zabul province was arrested during an overnight operation on Sunday. The suspect is accused of providing material support to the IED network, including IED components, money, fuel and other provisions. Several of his associates were also said to have been arrested.

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