A friend of mine (not Bill Roggio) with very good sources inside the military continues to insist that it’s not true, but I’m intrigued at the number of different reports that are now claiming that it is. First there was Brad Thor’s piece for Breitbart’s site, then the Jawas said they were hearing the same thing, then the Nation(!) admitted that rumors had been circulating for awhile (before ultimately concluding that they were bogus), and now this.
Last month, while I was still in Afghanistan, rumors were circulating that the ISI had detained Mullah Omar in Karachi on March 27, and placed him under house arrest in what they call “community care.” American operatives say he has since been transferred to a secret ISI lock-up under the Pakistani euphemism: “institutional care.” According to several reports, all of this information was confirmed to U.S. officials by a senior Pakistani military officer “several weeks ago.”
“Why would the ISI take down ‘one of their own?’” I asked. The answer came in a mixed metaphor but the meaning was clear: “The ISI intends to be in the driver’s seat when the ‘Peace Talks’ get underway in Afghanistan later this month. And the ISI officers calling the shots know Mullah Omar is the best bargaining chip they have.”
None of this bodes well for the “Consultative Peace Jirga,” on which Mr. Obama has now placed his imprimatur. Some of those watching preparations for the “peace talks” predict a call for an immediate, Vietnam-style, “cease fire” as a pre-condition for the conference – and a demand to grant Mullah Omar – Osama bin-Laden’s closest ally – safe haven in Saudi Arabia. If the O-Team agrees to any of this, it will be akin to putting perfume on a skunk.
Still just “rumors,” huh? Well, the rumors here do jibe — almost precisely — with the leading theory for why ISI went and picked up the Taliban’s number two, Mullah Baradar. They don’t want their Taliban proxy making any agreements with Karzai or America or anyone else without their approval, and if that means hauling them in, so be it. Question, though: If that’s the game, why not arrest Omar in the first place instead of Baradar? Surely they knew where to find him without needing Baradar’s help. Also, given Omar’s reputation as a diehard true believin’ jihadbot, why would ISI fear that he would go and make a deal with America that would sell out Pakistan? Baradar is the one who’s allegedly interested in reconciliation; it makes sense to grab him before he goes and gives away the farm. That’s a lesser or even nonexistent concern with Omar, so why risk infuriating his followers by grabbing him? He’s basically the jihadi pope. Even the slight indignity of house arrest would, I assume, risk a ferocious backlash from the mujahedeen.
So filthy is ISI that even if all the rumors are true, I’m not sure how it advances the ball. To some extent, they’re the real Taliban leadership; saying that Omar is in their custody is like saying that the Taliban have Omar under arrest. Whoopee. Exit question: Would the Saudis really consider granting this degenerate asylum? They’ve got enough on their plate without dumping a charismatic religious fanatic with thousands of armed loyalists in their lap, no?