Turns Out Mullah Omar Was Never on the FBI’s Top Terrorists List

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012


Update 12:56 p.m.: Since posting this story, we’ve gotten a few reader emails suggesting that the FBI never had Mullah Omar on its most wanted terrorist list in the first place A post from Storify suggests that the story originated in the Pakistani media with reports like the one from Pakistan-based (and The New York Times-owned) The Express Tribune, where we first heard the news. We phoned the FBI’s press office, and FBI spokesperson Paul Bresson confirmed that Omar was never initially on the list (though he is on a State Department list offering a cash reward for his capture, Bresson noted). Meanwhile, The Express Tribune has unceremoniously pulled its story from its website to leave only a 404 page. Also with egg of its face: the fake Twitter account for Mullah Omar, which played off of the fake news by tweeting “Hellooo my dears. What? I’m free? Now I can FINALLY visit Las Vegas? #nomoreFBI” And we too apologize for passing along the not-real news (and for using a poorly chosen photo originally).

Original post: Wow, how far we’ve come from October 2001. Back then the U.S. was bombing the Taliban out of power for supporting terrorism, while today we’ve pulled its top leader from our terrorist list. The FBI today has taken Mullah Muhammad Omar, head of the Taliban in Afghanistan, off of its ‘Most Wanted Terrorists” listreports The Express Tribune. It’s unclear whether the U.S. no longer thinks Omar is a terrorist or if he’s just not wanted anymore. In any case, the Obama administration is trying ploy after ploy to get the Taliban to negotiate a peace in Afghanistan and put that war to bed like the one in Iraq. Already thrown on the table: The 20 something Gitmo prisoners part of the Taliban and control of southern Afghanistan, according to The Tribune. But so far the Taliban doesn’t want much to do with us after, you know, declaring war on them a decade ago and all.

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author at dgrandoni@theatlantic.com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.

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