Taliban founder Mullah Omar lived close to U.S. army camp in Afghanistan

March 12, 2019 - 9:59

TEHRAN - In a startling disclosure that has once again raised questions over U.S. involvement in war-ravaged Afghanistan, a new book says Mullah Omar lived close to a U.S. army base in Afghanistan.

The leader of Taliban, who died in 2013 following a prolonged illness, lived out his final days in ‘relative peace’ and ‘within walking distance of a U.S. (military) base in Afghanistan, reveals a book by Dutch journalist Bette Dam.

It is widely believed that Omar fled Afghanistan following the invasion of U.S.-led coalition forces and hid himself in the border region of Pakistan from where he planned and orchestrated attacks in Afghanistan.

However, the forthcoming book claims he was right under the nose of U.S. forces in southern province of Zabul in Afghanistan.

The one-eyed Taliban leader’s former bodyguard and some Afghan officials told the author that he spent first four years of insurgency living in a modest house in Zabul, an hour’s walk from the U.S. military’s Forward Operating Base (FOB) Lagman, the author was quoted as saying a Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

The book says the U.S. forces occasionally patrolled the area but failed to find him. He relocated to a mud hut in the remote district of Siuray when the U.S. forces made another base close to his house.

In Siuray, he was under the nose of FOB Wolverine, which at one point housed more than 1,000 U.S.-led coalition troops. “It was very dangerous for us there,” Omar’s bodyguard tells the author.

In his eight years in Siuray, Omar was a ‘spiritual leader’ for the Taliban, but rarely planned military offensives with the militants. He received food and clothing from local people who hated the presence of U.S. forces mostly remained indoors, praying and meditating, the author reveals.

He eventually fell sick in 2013 and died April 23 that year but the news was not disclosed until 2015.

Dam’s book contradicts the U.S. claims on Omar’s location. How Omar eluded the world’s most powerful military for over a decade, the author said the issue was that of trust.

“[The Americans] are in big military camps,” she told De Volkskrant. “Very little information comes to them... I also speak to the guys they speak to. But I come in local clothing, as a citizen. I have nothing with me. That makes everything different.”

Omar’s rise to prominence began when he joined the fight against Russians in 1980s. He fought against Russians on the main Kabul-Kandahar high way in Shahr-i-Safa and Qalat cities of southern Zabul province, according to his biography posted on Taliban’s official website.

A large number of Taliban commanders at a meeting in Kandahar on April 4, 1996 chose him as the supreme leader of the insurgent group, following which the group Afghanistan ruled for a few years.

Ironically, Omar fought alongside U.S. forces against Russia and later the U.S. forces sought to kill him.

However, some analysts feel that he had full support of the U.S. forces which helped him survive all those years, even under their noses.

“How is it possible that you are the ‘most wanted man’ living in the shadow of a massive U.S. military camp for almost 10 years,” asks Hashmat Yousufzai, a researcher and analyst based in Kabul. “There is definitely more to it than meets the eye.”

Ali Moosavi, a university student in Mazar Sharif, says if locals had knowledge about his presence there it is virtually impossible that the U.S. intelligence agents wouldn’t know of it. “He lived there, not despite the U.S. presence, but because of it”.

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