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Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar 'lived close to US bases'


Amsterdam: The Talibans elusive one-eyed leader Mullah Omar lived within walking distance of US bases in Afghanistan, a new book has claimed.

Bette Dam's "The Secret Life of Mullah Omar" says the leader never hid in Pakistan as believed by the US, the BBC reported.

Instead, he lived in hiding just three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in his home province of Zabul.

Dutch journalist Dam spent five years researching and interviewing Taliban members for her book.

She managed to speak to Jabbar Omari, the man who effectively became Omar's bodyguard when he went into hiding after the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Omari hid the Taliban leader until his death from illness in 2013, the report quoted the Dam as saying.

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, Omar -- on whose head the US placed a $10 million bounty after the 9/11 terror attacks -- hid in secret rooms in a house close to a base, the book said.

US forces even searched the accommodation on one occasion, but failed to find his hiding place, it added.

He later moved to a second building just three miles from another US base, home to about 1,000 troops, Dam said, adding that Omar got his news from the BBC's Pashto language service.

Despite claims by the militants, Omar could not run the Taliban group from his hiding places. However, he is said to have approved the Taliban office in the Gulf state of Qatar, where US officials have been talking with Taliban leaders in a bid to end the long war in Afghanistan, the BBC report said.

Dam's book was published in Dutch in February, and is set to be available in English shortly.

Mullah Mohammed Omar signed control of the Taliban over to his Defence Minister, Mullah Obaidullah, in December 2001.

He lived three miles from Forward Operating Base Wolverine, home to 1,000 US troops and where US Navy Seals and British SAS forces were sometimes based, Dam's book claimed.

Omar would sometimes hide in irrigation tunnels to avoid detection. He lived in isolation and eventually invented his own language. He died on April 23, 2013, and was buried without a coffin in a featureless grave, Dam said.



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