Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is alive and hiding in the Pakistani city of Karachi, a top Afghan intelligence official has said, echoing a similar assessment by Western intelligence officials.
“There is a lot of doubt whether he is alive or not. But we are more confident that he is in Karachi,” acting Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil was quoted as saying in the New York Times regarding Omar’s whereabouts.
An European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in the NYT report that there is a “consensus among all three branches of the Afghan security forces that Mullah Omar is alive”.
“Not only do they think he’s alive, they say they have a good understanding of where exactly he is in Karachi,” the Pakistani metropolis where some say Mullah Omar is hiding.
The report said that Mullah Omar has always functioned more as the spiritual and ideological leader of the movement than as an operational commander.
His inner circle, made up of village mullahs who have known one another for decades, has provided the active leadership of the Taliban’s many local factions.
“But now one man, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, has risen to the No 2 role and become the main link to Mullah Omar, allowing him to place his loyalists up and down the ranks,” Nabil said in the report.
Nabil, in his assessment, saw Pakistan’s security establishment driving the changes, an appraisal shared by some Western officials.
“Some said it was a bid for greater control over the insurgency; others saw it as the evolution of a long-running Pakistani effort to avoid the embarrassment of having Mullah Omar discovered being sheltered in their country,” the report said.