Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bergdahl captor killed

Questions loom over impact on prisoner negotiations

In this 2010 photo, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, left, is guarded by Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a suspected terrorist who is now believed to be dead. Photo courtesy of IntelCenter

By JOHN SOWELL, Idaho Statesman

Mullah Sangeen Zadran is listed by the U.S. State Department as the “shadow governor” for Afghanistan’s Paktika Province and a commander of the Haqqani network. He was among six fighters killed Friday by a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal district of Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.
    Zadran was also involved in the 2009 capture of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey. He was identified by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks terrorists, standing next to Bergdahl in a 2010 videotape released by Bergdahl’s captors.
    Bergdahl’s parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, were informed of Zadran’s death early Friday morning, said Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard who has fielded questions for Bergdahl’s family.
    “They don’t have any comment,” Marsano said.
    Captured on June 30, 2009, Bergdahl is the only known U.S. soldier taken prisoner in the war in Afghanistan. He is believed still held by the Haqqani network, though a senior Haqqani official last December denied the group had Bergdahl.
    It’s unclear what effect Zadran’s death could have on efforts to get Bergdahl released. The Taliban this summer offered to free Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five senior Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay.
    “I’m confident that my brothers and sisters in arms will continue to diligently pursue the safe return of Sgt. Bergdahl,” Marsano said.
The drone that killed Zadran fired two missiles at a sprawling militant hideout outside Ghulam Khan, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
Zadran was tied to many attacks using improvised explosive devices in the border region, the State Department alleged. They said Zadran was also responsible for kidnappings of Afghans and foreign nationals, and that he “is believed to have planned and coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into Afghanistan.”
The State Department designated him as a terrorist in an August 2011 order. The United Nations made a similar designation.
A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban denied that Zadran had been killed. However, five Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents had confirmed Zadran’s death.
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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