Taliban Mentor Dies in Captivity
Sultan Amir Tarar was US ally against Soviets in Afghanistan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2011 8:07 AM CST
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Sadukheil village near Landi Kotel, in Pakistan's Khyber Tribal region along Afghan border, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010.   (AP Photo/Amir Zada)

(Newser) – A former Pakistani spy who helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan has died in militant captivity 10 months after he was seized in northwest Pakistan, a top official said today. Sultan Amir Tarar, who as an American ally against Soviet rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s trained at Fort Bragg, NC, died of a heart attack while in custody. Tarar, better known as Col. Imam, was kidnapped by militants along with a British TV journalist, who was released in September, and another former spy, Khalid Khawaja, who was executed by his captors in April.

After the Soviets withdrew, Tarar continued to be Pakistan's point man with the Taliban, providing the movement with arms, funding, and training. He remained publicly sympathetic to the Afghan Taliban since the movement's downfall in 2001 in the U.S-led invasion. Some media reports have said Tarar maintained operational ties with the Afghan insurgents in recent years, which he denied. In interviews before his kidnapping, he had spoken of the need to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban to end the almost 10-year war. Tarar's death in militant captivity was shrouded in uncertainty, but appeared to indicate the extent to which some insurgents in the northwest had abandoned any loyalties to Pakistani intelligence agencies that nurtured an earlier generation of fighters. The AP has more on Tarar’s life.