ISI helped Mullah Omar to escape to Karachi: US intelligence officials

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Washington, Nov.20 (ANI): Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar has shifted his base from Quetta to Karachi with the help of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the Washington Times reports.

According to the newspaper, two senior US intelligence officials and a former top CIA officer have confirmed that the one-eyed Taliban leader moved to Karachi last month after Ramzan.

"He (Mullah Omar) inaugurated a new senior leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism campaigns. 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 officials said on condition of anonymity.

"One reason, (Al Qaeda) and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe U.S. drones do not strike there.It is a densely populated urban area," said the official.

Former CIA official and an expert on Al-Qaeda and Taliban, Bruce Riedel also confirmed that Omar has been spotted in Karachi.

"Some sources claim that the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe.There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept," said Riedel.

Riedel, who had worked on the Obama administration's AFPAK policy, pointed out that there has been few suicide bombings in the port city, which he said was primarily due to the fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda didn't wanted to "foul their own nest."

Meanwhile, Pakistan has denied reports about Omar's presence in Karachi.

Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said the US has not provided any credible information about Taliban leaders movement to Islamabad.

"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," Kiani said.

Referring to reports that ISI had facilitated Omar's movement from Quetta to Karachi, he said such accusations were aimed at maligning the agency's image.

"The ISI and Pakistani military have suffered a lot of losses fighting the terrorists and people who are making these accusations have their own agendas," Kiani said. (ANI)

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