WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Afghanistan have captured senior Pakistani Taliban commander Latif Mehsud in a military operation and detained him under a law authorizing use of force against al Qaeda following the 2001 attacks, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The arrest of Mehsud, a trusted deputy to Tehreek-e-Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, could be a big blow to the group, which seeks to topple the U.S.-backed government Pakistan but has also taken aim at U.S. forces in Afghanistan and sought to strike the United States itself.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said Mehsud was captured in a U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, but The Washington Post reported on Friday that he was forcibly snatched from an Afghan government convoy in Logar province several weeks ago as Afghan officials were trying to recruit him to launch peace talks.
The Post said the incident, viewed as a major breach of Afghan sovereignty, enraged Afghan President Hamid Karzai and had contributed to a chill in U.S.-Afghan relations at a time when American officials are pressing for a deal to let a small force of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan after 2014.
Pentagon officials declined to comment on the Post report.
The Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, is believed to have trained Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad in bomb-making techniques and funded his plot to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in 2010. The device failed to explode and was defused by a bomb squad.
The group has been involved in many attacks within Pakistan. These have included attacks on U.S. diplomats and assaults that have killed Pakistani civilians.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and David Alexander; Editing by Eric Beech and David Brunnstrom