UK Daily Mail
Sunday, Aug 17, 2008
The abject failure of America’s intelligence services to broker a deal that could have led to the capture of the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan can be exposed for the first time today.
The US had persuaded a high-ranking Taliban officer to turn informer – a move that could have led to the elimination of insurgent chief Mullah Mohammed Omar.
However, infighting between the White House, FBI and US drug enforcement agents meant that the potential ‘supergrass’ is instead facing life imprisonment for heroin smuggling.
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The lives of British troops could have been saved if the deal had gone through because Haji Bashar Noorzai was leader of the second biggest tribe in Helmand province, where our soldiers are fighting against insurgents he once controlled.
Noorzai – known to the security services as HBN – was introduced to two US private investigators in 2004.
The men, one a retired FBI counter-intelligence agent and the other a former US Special Forces officer, were put in touch with him through an Afghan intermediary in London.
The private eyes, known for security reasons only as Brian and Mike, had been commissioned to investigate terrorist finance networks in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York, and HBN was of special interest.
As a member of the Taliban central council, HBN had become its ‘treasurer’ and reportedly received at least £10million in cash for safe-keeping.
He also had links to Taliban leader Omar, one of the world’s most wanted men, who is thought to be hiding in Pakistan. HBN’s tribe had played a major role in keeping him safe from capture.
This article was posted: Sunday, August 17, 2008 at 5:10 am