Taliban Leader Is Hiding and Being Protected in Pakistan, Says Spokesman
ABC News | January 17, 2007
Maddy Sauer and Gretchen Peters
Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is alive and well and living in Pakistan under the protection of the Pakistan intelligence agency, according to the captured spokesman for the Taliban, Mohammad Hanif.
Hanif was captured in Afghanistan yesterday, and today the Afghan government released video footage of him in which he claims to know the location of Omar.
"He is living in Quetta," says Hanif, "and the ISI [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency] is protecting him."
While Pakistani officials dismiss this statement, the information coincides with secret U.S. military documents obtained by ABC News earlier this year. The documents were part of a U.S. targeting assessment produced in January 2005 and, incredibly, were bought at an Afghanistan street bazaar, just a few hundred feet from the front gate of the U.S. air base in Bagram.
The documents listed 16 senior level al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, including Omar, as hiding in Pakistan where U.S. troops cannot operate.
U.S. officials said the information was provided to the government of Pakistani Pres. Pervez Musharraf but that the tier-one targets continue to operate inside Pakistan.
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