Showing the abysmal state U.S. intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban’s fugitive 55-year-old spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has been confirmed dead for at least two years. With a $10 million price on his head from the U.S. State Department, Omar’s Taliban gave Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden safe haven in Afghanistan to train his legion of programmed assassins to hijack and fly jetliners into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Pentagon, forever changing the world’s security landscape. Nothing in world history changed the nature of air travel around the globe more that Sept. 11, costing billions in added airline and transportation security. Speaking on behalf of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Abdul Hassib Sedddiq, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, confirmed Omar’s death in April 2013.
Battling the Taliban in what’s become its Spring and Summer offensives, the Afghan government confirmed that the Taliban’s late spiritual leader was no longer around, a stunner to U.S. intelligence agencies. When Bin Laden squeaked by U.S. defenses launching the most brazen terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland Sept. 11, 2001, former President George W. Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney were utterly disgusted with colossal U.S. intelligence failures, especially the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, unable to intercept Bin Laden’s plot. Bush and Cheney were so distrustful after Sept. 11 of the CIA, they created their own Pentagon-based intel unit called the Office of Special Plans.
Finding out about Omar’s death over two years after the fact shows the deteriorated state of U.S. intel in the region. Like Bin Laden, Omar fled Operation Enduring Freedom Oct. 7, 2001, officially beginning the U.S. assault on the Taliban. When the Taliban fell Nov. 16, 2001, Omar was long gone, fleeing with Bin Laden from Afghanistan around mid-December 2001 through the Khyber Pass on motorbikes during the battle of Tora Bora into Pakistan’s ungoverned Waziristan region. What irked so many of Bush’s critics was the fact that Bin Laden and Omar had long since escaped Afghanistan in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Bush insisted that battling the Taliban was essential to fighting the war on terror when, in fact, Bin Laden and Omar were long gone. Less that a year after toppling the Taliban, the Bush White House was already planning the Iraq War.
Bush, Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice were already hyping Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction on national news programs, over a year before the March 20, 2003 Iraq invasion. Less than one year after toppling the Taliban in Kabul, Bush & Co. made a convincing case to Congress, passing the Iraq War Resolution Oct. 16, 2002. By the time Powell made his case in the Security Council Feb. 5, 2003 about Saddam’s WMD, the launch date for Operation Iraqi Freedom was already set. Today’s revelation about Omar shows just how far out the intel loop U.S. has gone in the Mideast. Without any real boots-on-the-ground, intel services rely too heavily of foreign sources, something that led to the Iraq War. Before the Iraq War, the Pentagon’s OSP—headed by Douglas Feith Jr.—bypassed the CIA, DIA and FBI, making up unverified stories of Saddam’s WMD.
U.S. State and Defense Departments still seek the arrest of Omar and other Taliban figures for lending aid-and-comfort to Osama bin Laden. With Bin Laden dead since May 1, 2011 and Omar dead in April 2013, it gives the U.S. intel agencies another fat black eye. “Although Operation Enduring Freedom removed the Taliban regime from power, Mullah Omar remains at large and represents a continuing threat to America and her allies,” read the U.S. State Department Rewards Justice Website. White House officials, now partnering with Turkey to deal with ISIS along the Turkish frontier with Syria, need to get their intel right about who poses a threat to the region. Turkey sees fit to use ISIS as a smokescreen to attack their old nemesis the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]. Before the U.S. loses what’s left of any intel in the region, they’d better stop the Turk’s from attacking the Kurds.
U.S. officials must not squander what’s left of the minimal intel left in the Middle East. With President Barack Obama ending the Iraq War Dec. 15, 2011, refusing to stop the rise of ISIS, stealing some 30% of Iraq and Syria’s sovereign land, the White House needs to get its Mideast policy right. Backing the Turk’s attacks on the PKK is exactly the wrong way to improve U.S. intel operations in Iraq, Syria and Iran. Lending humanitarian and military support to the Kurds for their ongoing role battling ISIS was the right thing to do. Before it’s too late, burning all bridges with the Kurds, the White House needs to get its Turkey policy straight, regardless on how much the U.S. wants to use its Turkey-based Incirlik Airbase. Negotiating a nuke deal with Iran doesn’t improve U.S. intel in the Middle East one bit or figure out, for that matter, what to do with the Sunni assault on Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.