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22 February 2024

Mullah Omar treated in Pakistan: report


The reclusive one-eyed chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammed Omar was treated for a heart attack in Pakistan with the help of its intelligence service, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The spiritual leader of the Islamist insurgency, who went deep underground after the 2001 US-led invasion, suffered a heart attack on January 7 and was taken to a hospital near Karachi for several days, the Post said, citing a report by a private intelligence network run by former US security officials.

The network, operating as a private company known as "The Eclipse Group," said its source was an unnamed physician in the hospital.

"While I was not personally in the operating theater... my evaluation based on what I have heard and seeing the patient in the hospital is that Mullah Omar had a cardiac catheter complication resulting in either bleeding or a small cerebral vascular incident, or both," the physician was quoted as saying.

The doctor added that Omar appeared to have suffered some brain damage and had slurred speech following the operation.

The report said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had "rushed him to a hospital in Karachi, where he was given heparin (an anticoagulant) and operated on."

"After 3-4 days of post-operative care in the hospital, he was released to the ISI and ordered to take absolute bed rest when at home for at least several days," it added.

Although Pakistan is officially an ally of the international coalition battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, US officials have long accused the ISI of playing a double game.

The ISI is reportedly still close to Omar, whom it backed as the leader of the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul.

Pakistan has always strongly denied such charges, and its Washington ambassador Husain Haqqani said the Eclipse report "had no basis whatsoever."

"Sometimes intelligence tips received by professionals turn out to be wrong. The story about Mullah Omar falls under that category," he told the Post.

The Post said Eclipse appeared to be "the latest iteration of a shadowy, Pentagon-backed operation that began contracting with former CIA and military operatives to supply intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009."

The newspaper said it was run by a former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's counterterrorism center, a retired diplomat and a former US army Special Forces information operations specialist in Iraq.