Pakistani Intelligence hide Mullah Omar in Karachi - out of reach of America

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Pakistani Intelligence hide Mullah Omar in Karachi - out of reach of America

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, has fled a Pakistani city on the border with Afghanistan and found refuge from potential U.S. attacks in the teeming Pakistani port city of Karachi with the assistance of Pakistan's intelligence service, three current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

Mullah Omar, who hosted Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders when they plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been residing in Quetta, where the Afghan Taliban shura -- or council -- had moved from Kandahar after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials and one former senior CIA officer told The Washington Times that Mullah Omar traveled to Karachi last month after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He inaugurated a new senior leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism campaigns, the officials said.

The officials, two of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, helped the Taliban leaders move from Quetta, where they were exposed to attacks by unmanned U.S. drones.

The development reinforces suspicions that the ISI, which helped create the Taliban in the 1990s to expand Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, is working against U.S. interests in Afghanistan as the Obama administration prepares to send more U.S. troops to fight there.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran and analyst on al Qaeda and the Taliban, confirmed that Mullah Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently.
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Some sources claim the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe" from U.S. drone attacks. There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept.

Mr. Riedel also noted that there had been few suicide bombings in Karachi, which he attributed to the Taliban and al Qaeda not wanting to "foul their own nest."

Neither Osama bin Laden nor al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has been spotted in Karachi. The official said the top two al Qaeda figures are still thought to be in the tribal region of Pakistan on Afghanistan's border.

But, the official said, other midlevel al Qaeda operatives who facilitate the travel and training of foreign fighters have moved to the Karachi metropolitan area, which with 18 million people is Pakistan's most populous city.
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One reason, [al Qaeda] and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe U.S. drones do not strike there,
the official said. "It is a densely populated urban area."

Pakistani officials said they were perplexed by the U.S. reports regarding Mullah Omar and denied that the ISI had facilitated a move by the Quetta shura to Karachi.

Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said the U.S. has not provided Pakistan with any credible intelligence regarding Mullah Omar's whereabouts.
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We have no evidence of his presence in Pakistan, If anybody in the U.S. government knows of any Quetta shura or Karachi shura, why don't they share that intelligence with Pakistan so we can take care of the issue ourselves? We have not been made aware of any presence of Mullah Omar in the region.

Our forces are fighting the Taliban in Waziristan and other areas. The terrorists are now killing and targeting innocent people in Pakistani cities. ISI is a very professional intelligence agency and these allegations are baseless

Another Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his work, told The Times,
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If Pakistan is made aware of the allegations and we do nothing, then the U.S. will know who to blame. Pakistan can take action with credible information.

But to shift the blame on Pakistan and the security forces because Afghanistan is becoming more of a problem is not going to be helpful but have a demoralizing effect on the situation both here and there.

By netchicken: posted on 21-11-2009

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