Mullah Obaidullah, the Akhund
: ملا عبيدالله آخوند.) was the defence minister
under the Taliban
government in Afghanistan
and later became an insurgent commander during the war
with the United States
and its allies. He was reported captured by Pakistani
security forces on March 2
. Obaidullah was born in the Panjwai
district of Kandahar Province
Mullah Obaidullah Akhund was the Defense Minister of Afghanistan
, and the second of three top deputies to Mullah Omar
, the leader of the Taliban. He is seen as the "number three" man in the Taliban. In late 2001 or early 2002, Obaidullah surrendered to Northern Alliance
troops, but was released as part of an amnesty. He was one of the main military leaders in 2003, and was named to the Mujahideen Shura Council
. It is believed that he was one of the Taliban leaders closest to Osama bin Laden
. Abdul Latif Hakimi
, who was captured by Pakistan in 2005, said that Obaidullah was one of two people with direct access to Mullah Omar
, and that Obaidullah had personally ordered insurgent attacks, including the killing of a foreign-aid official in March 2005.
Obaidullah was captured by Pakistani Forces on February 26, 2007, in the city of Quetta, which is located in Balochistan, near the Afghan border. The Taliban denied that he has been captured. Obaidullah is the most senior Taliban official captured since the 2001 U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan. The arrest coincided with U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan in late February 2007, but the timing has been reported to be a coincidence rather than a reaction to Cheney's visit.
Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan was captured on February 11 2008.
When he was set free on May 16 2008 Pakistani authorities denied that his release was due to a negotiated prisoner swap.
But the Taliban reported that there had been a prisoner swap, and that Mullah Obaidullah was one of the senior Taliban leaders who was released in return for Tariq's release. The Asia Times reported that Baitullah Mehsud had accepted a cash payment of 20 million Pakistani Rupee in lieu of Obaidullah's release.