More on That “Mullah Omar Captured” Story

Back in July 2010, I was surprised to find that I had provoked the wrath of bestselling conservative thriller author Brad Thor:

I guess with Instaputz, Bartholomew, and Media Matters on the scene, the rest of the milblogging community can finally hang up their cleats.

…Lefty journalism is only fun after all when you can selectively attack sources.  Behold the utter nihilism of the left – available at a progressive website near you.

This was a strangely thinned-skin response to a blog-post in which I had discussed Thor’s alleged scoop – published by Andrew Breitbart the preceding May – that Mullah Omar had been “captured” by Pakistani authorities. Thor announced that

At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately.  From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.

When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed.

I expressed some scepticism a few weeks later, although I thought I had been fair-minded enough: I noted that Jeremy Scahill at the Nation had tentatively suggested that there might be something in it, while David Horowitz’s Newsrealblog had been unimpressed.

Thor quietly modified his position soon after, quoting Bill Roggio’s suggestion that Omar “is thought to be in a safehouse in Karachi, under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate”:

We believe we have a semantic difference with Roggio: “captured” or “protected,” why hasn’t the U.S. gotten access to Omar?

That “semantic difference” amounted to something of an anti-climax: Thor’s “explosive information” was in fact a story which was already three-and-a-half years old. As the BBC reported January 2007:

Taleban leader Mullah Omar is living in Pakistan under the protection of its ISI intelligence agency, a captured Taleban spokesman has said.

I was reminded of all this recently when I came across last week’s New Yorker, which contains a long profile of Mullah Omar by Steve Coll. According to Coll:

Alex Strick van Linschoten [website here – RB], a Dutch scholar who has been based in Kandahar since 2007 and has conducted interviews with Taliban leaders and sympathizers, told me that he believes Mullah Omar is “in a safe house in Karachi”… and that Omar’s movements and activities are closely  monitored by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Strick van Linschoten’s informants describe Omar as “essentially a prisoner”. Coll also cites journalist Anand Gopal, who regards Omar as being “effectively under house arrest”, and he notes that an Indian official at a US-Indian counterterrorism meeting last year had described Omar as being under “Pakistani protection”. Coll also spoke with “half a dozen American officials”, whose

views range from a belief that Omar is essentially under house arrest to a judgement that he enjoys considerable freedom of movement and action within Pakistan.

However, nowhere in Coll’s extensive and definitive account is there any mention of a particular development that supposedly occurred in May 2010, let alone “explosive information” that had taken the US Defense Department “by surprise”.

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  1. […] nilihism” for expressing scepticism of his May 2010 “Mullah Omar Captured” story) had previously narrated an audio-book version of Giduck’s The Green Beret in You. Stalcup […]

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