Nightly News   |  February 16, 2010

U.S., Pakistan capture top Taliban commander

U.S. officials praised Pakistan intelligence Tuesday for their cooperation in the war being fought on both sides of the Afghan border after one of the Taliban's top military commanders was captured in Pakistan on Tuesday. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

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>>> now.

>>> good evening. we begin tonight with news that could mean a major advance. the taliban 's top military commander has been captured. it was a secret raid, a joint operation carried out by pakistani and american intelligence forces. it happened in karachi in afghanistan. the number two ranked man under the taliban founder and associate of the still-at-large osama bin laden . this news comes as american forces are grinding forward with a big new offensive. we begin our reporting tonight with you are chief foreign correspondent richard engel .

>> reporter: it's easy to hide in the streets of karachi , home to 18 million. the taliban 's military commander mulla baradar was living openly here, apparently feeling immune to capture. that ended last week in a rare joint cia/pakistani operation. there are no known photographs of baradar, but he directed the war in afghanistan . today u.s. nato troops met on the fourth day of offensive. baradar could provide valuable intelligence.

>> mulla baradar would provide very valuable information about the scores of other people who work for the taliban movement .

>> reporter: u.s. and pakistani intelligence have cooperated before, together arresting 9/11 plotters. pakistan has been accused of sheltering the top taliban leaders, offering up just middle men.

>> the fact they've taken out mullah baradar, so they are going for the real guys rather than the little guys.

>> reporter: but baradar is unlikely to know the whereabouts of osama bin laden . former pakistan intelligence colonel imman trained baradar with thousands of other fighters in the 1980s . he says the arrest will not defeat the taliban .

>> reporter: analysts say the operation in karachi deals a psychological blow to the taliban , showing no one is immune to arrest, even in pakistan . the arrest is not, however, expected to have an immediate impact on american troops fighting in afghanistan. today, a u.s. marine was killed by roadside bomb. brian?

>> richard engel in our london newsroom tonight. richard, thanks.

>>> in washington, president obama today