Pakistan released Taliban co-founder and deputy Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Thursday after serving nearly nine years in a Pakistani prison, the Taliban and Pakistan authorities said. Baradar was arrested in 2010 during a joint intelligence operation in Karachi, Pakistan by U.S. and Pakistani officials. The insurgency group was conducting a constant barrage of deadly attacks against U.S. forces and the Pakistani military in South Asia.

By Friday, SaraACarter.com spoke with sources in Pakistan that stated that when Baradar was released from prison, he visited his family in Quetta and then left for Helmand, Afghanistan. According to authorities in Pakistan, Baradar’s release will help with the negotiations to free American Kevin King, 60, and Timothy Weeks, 48, from Australia. The men were teaching at Kabul’s American University of Afghanistan when members of the Haqqani network, a militant arm linked to the Taliban, took them hostage in August 2016  while they were driving from the campus.

His release comes after an Oct.12 meeting between American diplomats and the Taliban held in the Gulf state of Qatar. According to reports this is the second time President Trump’s administration ordered direct talks with the Taliban. Sources told this news site that his release may play a role in getting King and Weeks safely back to their countries from captivity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told this news site that both Weeks and King are alive and are “recovering from health issues.”

SaraACarter.com and Pakistani writer Sajid Khan obtained the first exclusive video of Baradar after his release. He is surrounded by militants, carrying AK-47s and some of them are throwing flower petals at the militant leader.

Sajid Khan contributed to this report.

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