Taliban's No. 2 a Fierce, Intelligent Opponent of US

Mullah Omar's lieutenant may be really running the insurgency
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2009 1:50 PM CDT
Pakistani Taliban militants are shown to the media at the detention center of Jalalabad the provincial capital of Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, July 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
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(Newser) – Though most Americans know of Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban’s insurgency in Afghanistan, few know his capable lieutenant, Mullah Baradar. As a high-profile US target, Omar has kept a low profile over the last 3 years—while Baradar commands day-to-day operations, Newsweek reports. But Baradar’s cunning leadership may be behind the improved tactics that have made July the deadliest month for coalition troops since the initial 2001 invasion.

Baradar allegedly instructs his commanders to avoid fighting coalition troops head-on, relying on ambushes to maximize enemy casualties. Perhaps most significantly, Baradar understands the importance of winning over the Afghan populace: he is said to have used stern measures to restrict corruption within his ranks, and instituted committees to handle villagers' grievances.