US forces ‘missed two chances’ to catch Taliban leader Mullah Omar claims author

A new book that suggests an array of embarrassing failures claims despite US and Afghan leaders believing the one-eyed fugitive leader died in Pakistan after fleeing there, he had lived just three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in Zabul province where he died in 2013. Dutch journalist Bette Dam say the terrorist head lived as a hermit by refusing visit from his family and using notebooks to compile scrawling in a made up language. In the book, Searching for an Enemy, Ms Dam said that following the collapse of the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the US put a £7.6million ($10million) bounty on Omar, promoting him to go into hiding in a compound in Qalat.

The family living at the compound were not told about Omar’s identity, and US forces missed two attempts to find him.

At one point, a US patrol approached the compound as Omar was in the courtyard.

He ducked and hid in a bush with the soldiers passing by without noticing.

Ms Dam, who spent four years in Afghanistan researching and reporting on the terror group and wrote an earlier book about former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, also said US troops even searched the house but did not come across a secret entrance to Omar’s room.

Omar then moved when the US started building Forward Operating Base Lagman in 2004, before moving to a second building.

But soon afterwards the Pentagon constructed Forward Operating Base Wolverine, which was home to 1,000 US troops.

British forces were also housed there.

He did not move again through fear of being caught, and even to to hiding in tunnels when US planes flew over.

The book goes on to claim he got ill and refused to see a doctor before dying in Zabul, an allegation strongly denied by the Afghan government.

Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesman for the Afghan presidency, said: “We strongly reject this delusional claim and we see it as an effort to create and build an identify for the Taliban and their foreign backers.”

He added: “We have sufficient evidence which shows he lived and died in Pakistan. Period!”

Omar’s Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.