WASHINGTON: The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) released recently detained Afghan Taliban insurgents, The Washington Post claimed on Sunday.
Quoting US military and intelligence officials, the paper stated, “(The) ISI, quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures it had captured on its own.”
The release, it said, was detected by American spy agencies that refrained from publicising the move.
“The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and declined to identify the Taliban figures who were released, citing the secrecy surrounding U.S. monitoring of the ISI. But officials said the freed captives were high-ranking Taliban members and would have been recognizable as insurgents the United States would want in custody,” the Post said.
Officials say the releases occurred in January and February, which is the same time around when the ISI conducted a series of raids that led to the capture of several senior Taliban figures.
Among them were “shadow governors” who unofficially preside over swaths of territory in Afghanistan. The ISI and CIA reportedly arrested Mullah Baradar, the second in command to Afghan Taliban’s chief Mullah Omar, in a joint operation in February.
This was followed by arrests of Mullah Abdul Salam and Mullah Mir Mohammad, respectively the ‘shadow governors’ or unofficial heads presiding over the northern Afghan provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan.
Taliban’s finance minister Agha Jan Motasim was arrested alongside many minor members of the Afghan Taliban early March. Pakistani security officials had also claimed to have captured Maulvi Abdul Kabir, who was considered to be a member of the Quetta Shura, the core Taliban leadership.
The paper, however, attributed statements to US counterterrorism officials claiming that “there has been no evidence of the arrest,” suspecting that Kabir was never detained.
The officials have further said that despite these arrests being a positive sign, the ISI never cut ties with every level to each and every Taliban group.
Pakistani officials, denying that any Taliban operatives had been released after being captured, have been quoted by the paper as saying, “The ISI is committed to dismantling insurgent groups.”