Taliban leader Omar lived next to US Afghan base: biography

Taliban leader 'lived near US bases'

Taliban leader 'lived near US bases'

A biography of one-eyed former Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar says he lived near a United States base in Afghanistan for years, not in Pakistan as U.S. officials have said, exposing Western failure to track him down, but a spokesman for the Afghan president described the claim as "delusional".

Omar's eldest son, Mohammad Yaqoob, said in an audio tape released in September 2015 that his father had been suffering from hepatitis C and died in Afghanistan.

But the Taliban's one-eyed leader actually might have remained in Afghanistan and relinquished direct command of the group, according to the report.

Omar, who delegated effective Taliban leadership after 2001, appears to have acted as more of a spiritual leader, and the militant movement kept the news of his death in 2013 secret for two years.

Omar´s Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, and has waged an anti-government insurgency since then. Omar moved yet again - this time to a hiding spot that was only a few miles away from another, smaller USA base.

Omar did not trust Pakistan, and would not go there even for medical help, it said.

"The so-called investigative report claiming Mullah Omar lived and died in Afghanistan is nothing but a manipulative piece of propaganda", he Tweeted. The mullah had nearly no interaction with other people until his death, except for a few scares in which American troops failed to find his hidden room, the report said.

Since 2006, Dam has reported from Afghanistan and the new book took more than five years to complete.

The report has received mixed reactions in Kabul, where officials have long blamed Islamabad for insecurity in the region.

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Omari, who is now in the custody of Afghanistan's spy agency, said the Taliban leader died from illness on April 23, 2013. "He suffered somehow but he didn't go anywhere out of the country and died there".

In the introduction published in English, Dam says, "As I show in my book, during the US-and-Pakistan-backed "jihad" against the Soviet occupation, Mullah Omar went only twice to Pakistan: once to a Quetta hospital to treat his wounded eye, and the other time also to Quetta, to collect weapons after an internal conflict in his mujahideen group".

"We strongly reject this delusional claim and we see it as an effort to create and build an identify for the Taliban and their foreign backers", tweeted Haroon Chakhansuri - a spokesman for the Afghan presidency.

Former CIA director and U.S. military commander in Afghanistan David Petraeus also appeared sceptical, saying the Taliban leader's alleged decision to stay in Afghanistan would have been laden with risk.

Afghan officials have repeatedly accused Pakistan of harbouring Taliban insurgents.

According to the book, Mullah Omar never lived in Pakistan.

The new book highlights embarrassing failures of American intelligence and makes it clear that contrary to USA claims, Mullah Omar appeared more as a spiritual leader among the Taliban ranks after the U.S. invasion and didn't lead armed activities against United States forces.

Omar could not run the Taliban group from his hiding places, but he is said to have approved a Taliban office in Qatar, where USA and Taliban negotiators have been holding peace talks in a bid to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

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