Mullah Omar never on FBI list

Dec. 28, 2011 at 12:59 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was never on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists, an agency spokesman said.

The Express Tribune, owned by The New York Times, reported that the FBI removed Omar's name from its list of most-wanted terrorism suspects. Since the report initially surfaced, The Express Tribune removed the story from its Web site.

Omar, the Afghan Taliban's key leader since the 1990s, is listed on a separate terrorism database maintained by the U.S. State Department, which put a $10 million bounty in his head.

The FBI's list concerns terrorists allegedly linked to attacks inside the United States or those targeting U.S. national interests. An FBI spokesman was quoted by India's Economic Times as saying that factor, and the State Department listing, meant there was "no question of him being removed from our list."

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper notes the original story in The Express Tribune used unidentified officials and wasn't backed by reliable sources. The original story, Dawn reported, alleged Washington pulled Omar's name off the list to build stronger ties with the Taliban.

Washington has maintained that reaching out to moderates in the Taliban was a part of a long-term peace plan for Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week reversed course, the BBC reports, by saying he supported a Taliban office in Qatar that would serve as a base for future peace talks.

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