The Afghan government has denied reports suggesting that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, had lived three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, for years before he died in 2013.
“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. We have sufficient evidence which shows he lived and died in Pakistan”, presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said on Monday as cited by TOLOnews.
The comments came after Dutch journalist Bette Dam released a book, entitled “Searching for an Enemy”, in which the author claimed that Omar never hid in neighbouring Pakistan.
“The story that emerges is that the US, and almost everyone else, had it wrong. He never lived in Pakistan. Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in his native land – and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major US Forward Operating Base that house thousands of soldiers. This finding, corroborated by the Taliban and Afghan officials, suggests a staggering US intelligence failure, and casts even further doubt on America’s claims about the Afghan war”, one extract read.
According to the book, Omar became ill in 2013 and refused to travel to Pakistan to receive treatment there, later dying in Zabul. Washington and Afghanistan have long maintained that Omar took refuge in Pakistan following the fall of the Taliban.
In 2015, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, and the Afghan presidential office announced that Mullah Omar had died in a Karachi hospital.
“We knew he was in Pakistan. He was really generally down in Balochistan and would go to Karachi and that’s where the hospital was, but we just didn’t have the ability to operate in Pakistan, and couldn’t get our Pakistani partners to go after him”, said then-CIA Director David Petraeus.