Washington :Pakistan’s intelligence had knowledge about the death of reclusive Taliban chief Mullah Omar and its move to hide the news is “failure” of not only the US-Pak intelligence co-operation, but also the American intelligence as well, a former top Pentagon official has said.
Mullah Omar, the one-eyed commander who led the Taliban for some 20 years, is reported to have died in a hospital in Karachi on April 23, 2013.
But the information about his mysterious death, most probably due to tuberculosis, was leaked only this month and then subsequently confirmed by the Taliban, the White House and the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan, which has considerable influence over the Taliban leadership and was instrumental in bringing them to the peace talks table with the democratically elected government of Afghanistan last month, has as usual strongly denied that it had any information about the death of Omar.
However, David Sedney, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan-Pakistan during 2009-2013, has intensive knowledge of the terrorist groups of the region and has strong network of contacts within the intelligence community of the region and the US, refuses to buy the Pakistani argument.
“I am highly highly confident that at least few people in the Pakistani government and intelligence agencies (Inter-Services Intelligence) knew about this (death of Mullah Omar),” Sedney told PTI.
“The whole issue of Mullah Omar’s death and the fact that it was kept secret for so long and so successfully leads to a host of other questions,” he said.
“People are asking everywhere – in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the US, – how did this happen and why? Because to carry out that kind of deception, I would say, is an example of highly professional intelligence tactics. There does not seem to be any history, anywhere I know of, similar kinds of movements where they have lost a leader and then kept it secret for so long,” Sedney said.
Sedney, who now is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank, argued that not knowing the death of Mullah Omar for two years is a failure of US intelligence in a major way.
“It is failure of US intelligence in two ways. First it did not find out what was going on inside the Taliban and secondly it did not find out from Pakistan. US intelligence has had a mixed relationship with ISI over the years. One of the things people have used to justify our relationship with Pakistan is that in a number of areas we had good intelligence sharing co-operation. To me this is a failure of that intelligence relationship,” Sedney said.