'Unfazed' Mullah Omar appoints two new deputies following Baradar's arrest

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Kabul, Mar. 24 (ANI): Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar has named two new deputies to succeed his arrested military chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The BBC quoted a senior Taliban leader as saying that the aim to appoint Abdul Qayuum Zakir and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor is to send across a message that "one arrest will not affect our movement."

Mullah Baradar was arrested in Karachi in February in what was seen as a blow to the militants as they gear up to face a major NATO offensive this year.

Earlier the Taliban denied Mullah Baradar's arrest by Pakistani authorities but later a Taliban spokesman confirmed it.

"Such arrests will not deter us from carrying on our activities," he told Newsweek.

The role of both new Taliban deputies will be vital at a time when the US is pouring in thousands of men as part of a troop "surge" before a withdrawal begins next year.

Abdul Qayuum Zakir, a former inmate at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, is said to be very popular with the younger generation of Taliban fighters because of his willingness to fight on the ground beside his men.

According to reports, Zakir was detained in Guantanamo Bay until 2007 and then deported to Afghanistan before being freed in 2008.

Soon after his release, he was back amongst his old comrades and has risen swiftly up the ladder.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor is seen as a key behind-the-scenes leader.

Mansoor, who was part of the original Taliban leadership prior to the 9/11 attacks, has been instrumental in managing Taliban logistics and raising funds, especially from the Gulf countries. (ANI)

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