Rumors are flying, particularly in the right wing blogosphere, that Taliban leader Mullah Omar has been taken into custody. That’s primarily because Andrew Breitbart is promoting an "exclusive" story on both his BigGovernment and BigJournalism websites by novelist Brad Thor, which proclaims: "Mullah Omar Captured!"
"Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody," Thor wrote:
"At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately. From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.
"When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed."
There are all sorts of reasons to be skeptical of Thor’s story, not the least of which is the source. It is a bit hard to believe that such a major development would have been leaked to a right-wing novelist with a name out of a Nordic porno, who is a regular contributor to Glenn Beck’s show, for publication on Andrew Breitbart’s web sites. You would think that it would leak to some establishment media the way the approval of the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki was to The New York Times and the Washington Post.
This is not the first time in recent months rumors of Omar’s capture have surfaced (see here). I wouldn’t even be bothering to look into this now if I had not heard some parallel buzz about these rumors from military sources I actually trust. No one is confirming anything at all, but I am told there are some pretty unenthusiastic denials making their way through the special forces world. Hence, this post.
As for Thor, he has spent time with US special forces in Afghanistan–he claims they were a "black-ops team"– and may very well keep up some relationships with those men. You can see a picture of an armed and bearded Thor playing special forces operative here. This would be the only way Thor has this story remotely right: If, by chance, he happens to know people on the ground who are in a very small, compartmentalized loop on this.
The corporate media have not touched this report (perhaps rightly so), though Marc Ambinder notes that "Official sources cast doubt on the claim," adding that "these sources are advising extreme skepticism in a way that suggests Omar is not in U.S. or Pakistani custody."
The right-wing/conservative blogosphere, while universally hoping Thor’s story is correct, has been lukewarm in believing its veracity. At the National Review Online, Greg Pollowitz writes, "I’m not sure this one’s going to pan out. I hope it does, of course."
Cdr Salamander proclaims, "Hold off from cracking open the bottle … but as the initial report is coming from Brad Thor … at least put one on ice as we wait for more info."
Over on RedState, Dan McLaughin writes: "If Thor’s sources pan out, this is excellent news, and a moment for real vindication for everyone – from the military brass to Republican leaders and conservative commentators to, yes, President Obama – who argued for pressing on for victory in Afghanistan and not abandoning the region to the Taliban."
At The Captain’s Journal, Herschel Smith states bluntly, "This sounds too bizarre to be believed as is. There has to be more to it than the information wasn’t passed up the chain of command," adding: "This has the distinct possibility of being a ruse or a mistake. I lost track of the number of times that Baitullah Mehsud was allegedly killed. Now Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed – but wait, no he hasn’t and there is evidence of his being alive. This is why I don’t usually cover HVT killings. In general I don’t think that they are very effective, and quite often the information is wrong. I think I’ll just wait before breaking out the champagne."
"I’m skeptical," Allahpundit wrote, concluding, "The left will rub [Andrew Breitbart’s] face in a pile of shinola if it doesn’t pan out and he knows it only too well."