AT News Report
KABUL: The government of Afghanistan has seriously brushed aside a report where says Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founding leader, had lived near a US base in Afghanistan before to die.
The report which quotes “Searching for an Enemy”, by Dutch journalist Bette Dam, says that Mullah Omar lived within walking distance of US bases in Afghanistan for years.
In contrary to Afghan and US officials saying that Mullah Omar died in one of hospitals in Pakistan in 2013, but the new book says Omar was living just three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in Zabul province.
The Dutch journalist Bette Dam says in the book that the Taliban chief lived as a virtual hermit, refusing visits from his family and filling notebooks with jottings in an imaginary language.
Dam spent more than five years researching the book and interviewed Jabbar Omari, Omar’s bodyguard who hid and protected him after the Taliban regime was overthrown.
The author spent years reporting in Afghanistan and also wrote an earlier book about former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 which led to the fall of the Taliban, the US put a $10 million bounty on Omar and he went into hiding in a small compound in the regional capital Qalat, Dam writes.
The family living at the compound was not told of the identity of their mystery guest, but US forces twice almost found him.
At one point, a US patrol approached as Omar and Omari were in the courtyard. Alarmed, the two men ducked behind a wood pile, but the soldiers passed without entering.
A second time, US troops even searched the house but did not uncover the concealed entrance to his secret room.
Omar decided to move when the US started building Forward Operating Base Lagman in 2004, just a few hundred meters from his hideout.
He later moved to a second building but soon afterwards the Pentagon constructed Forward Operating Base Wolverine — home to 1,000 US troops, and where American and British special forces were sometimes based — close by.
He dared not move again, Dam says, rarely even going outside and often hiding in tunnels when US planes flew over.
Though he listened to the BBC’s evening Pashto-language news broadcasts, even when he learned about the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden Omar rarely commented on the outside world, the book says.
The book goes on to claim that Omar became ill in 2013, did not see a doctor and refused to travel to Pakistan for treatment, later dying in Zabul.
It is a just a game according to Afghan official to give Taliban an identity for their foreign backers.
“We strongly reject this delusional claim and we see it as an effort to create and build an identity for the Taliban and their foreign backers,” President Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said. “We have sufficient evidence which shows he (Mullah Omar) lived and died in Pakistan.”
Almost all Afghans, from ordinary to officials lambasted the reported, saying it is a bogus tale, as all leadership of the militant groups living in Pakistan, some of them died some of them targeted by US drones. Mullah Omar was died in one of hospitals in Karach, while Osma bin-Laden and Mullah Akhtar Mansoor were killed in Pakistan by US drones, and this is a world reality.
Amrullah Saleh, a young Afghan politician, and first vice president to Ashraf Ghani for July presidential polls strongly reacted to the claim, terming it a piece of propaganda.
“The so called investigative report claiming Mullah Omar lived and died in Afghanistan is nothing but a manipulative piece of propaganda aimed to give a leg to ISI denial that there is no Quetta Shura. There is. The physical feature of Doha negotiators show they haven’t been in field or caves,” he wrote in his twitter message.