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Taliban 'godfather' dies in captivity

The godfather of the Taliban, one of Pakistan's most prominent retired spies, has died of a heart attack in Waziristan while held captive by Islamist militants he helped spawn.

Sultan Amir Tarar, better known as "Colonel Imam", had been held hostage by militant groups since March 2010.

He was captured when he accompanied another former spy and a British journalist on a doomed mission to film a documentary about the Pakistani Taliban along the Afghan border.

Fears for Col Imam's life have been building since the trio were seized in North Waziristan by the pro al-Qa'ida group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Col Imam's 10-month ordeal illuminated the unravelling of a perilous policy he set in train 30 years ago. In the 1970s, he emerged as a US-trained army officer who went on to train and dispatch thousands of Afghan mujahideen to counter the Soviets.

After the Communist threat was vanquished, he returned to oversee the rise of his disciple, Mullah Omar.

Those sympathies endured. But his death came in the custody of a younger, fiercer generation of militants, unmoved by his role in their history.

Belfast Telegraph

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