Fugitive Taliban leader lived short walk from US base, book reveals
Account exposes failures of US intelligence, which put $10m bounty on Mullah Omar
The Talibans elusive one-eyed leader Mullah Omar lived within walking distance of US bases in Afghanistan for years, and American troops once even searched the house where he was hiding but failed to find a secret room built for him, a new biography claims.
The account exposes an embarrassing failure of US intelligence, which put a $10m bounty on Omars head after the 9/11 attacks in the US. Officials repeatedly suggested that, like the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, he was hiding in Pakistan and died there.
It also upends the Talibans own account of their movement, revealing how Omar handed over practical control of the insurgency to his deputies in 2001, even though they claimed him as leader for the rest of his life, and for two years after his death in 2013.
While statements issued in his name were scrutinised around the world, he was living as a virtual hermit, refusing visits from his family, filling notebooks with jottings in an invented language and occasionally hiding from US patrols in irrigation tunnels.