Sep 09, 2006

Mullah Omar in Pakistan

Source: Mullah Omar in Pakistan

From CNN's Peter Bergen, Anderson Cooper and Charlie Moore in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who heads the religious militia fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is living in Pakistan, though not in the same area where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is thought to be, according to a U.S. intelligence source.

The elusive Taliban leader is believed to be in Quetta or its environs, a city of one million that is the capital of Baluchistan province in southwestern Pakistan. The intelligence source said of Mullah Omar's location: "At one point we had it down to a particular section of Quetta." Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did not address specifically the question on his visit to Kabul Thursday, but said "Please do understand the Pakistan government (is not) behind anything that is happening in Afghanistan." The last known location for Mullah Omar was in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, which he fled in December 2001 as U.S. forces closed in on the city. The U.S. government is now offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to his capture. The intelligence source says that Mullah Omar continues to supply "high level guidance" to his movement of religious warriors, although he is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the movement, a role that is largely played by military commander Mullah Dadullah.

Specific location

U.S. officials have been saying for some time that another of the world's most wanted men -- Mullah Omar's close friend and advisor, bin Laden -- is believed to be in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, and the intelligence source who spoke of Mullah Omar offered a specific location for bin Laden, as well. The source said that bin Laden is likely in Bajuar, a sparsely populated remote tribal region on the northern Afghan-Pakistan border, bordering Chitral. That is a region that a U.S. military intelligence official has identified to CNN in the past as a strong possibility for the location of al Qaeda's leader. Meanwhile, NATO's top military commander, U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, has called on the 26 member nations to provide more troops for Afghanistan, which is facing its deadliest spate of violence since the Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001. A huge suicide car bomb struck a convoy of U.S. military vehicles Friday in the Afghan capital, killing at least 18 people, officials and witnesses said.