Mullah Omar never figured in most wanted list: FBI

Washington/Islamabad: Afghan-Taliban`s secretive head Mullah Omar`s name as been "quietly removed" from the FBI`s list of most wanted terrorists, Pakistani media has claimed, prompting the US investigative agency to clarify that he had never figured in its list.

Mullah Omar, who ruled Afghanistan during the Taliban regime in mid-90s, was never on the FBI`s most wanted list but continued to be on a list of the State Department, which has declared "up to USD 10 million" on his head. "So there is no question of him being removed from our list," said a spokesman for FBI, which maintains a list of most wanted terrorists responsible for attacks inside the US.

His remarks came when asked about news reports appearing in Pakistani media that one-eyed Mullah Omar`s name has been quietly removed from the most wanted terrorist list of the US.

Amid claims and counter-claims about Mullah Omar`s name in the FBI list, The Express Tribune newspaper, which originally reported about the removal of his name from the FBI list, has pulled the story from its website.

According to `The Atlantic` magazine, "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." It also noted that The Express Tribune has "unceremoniously" pulled its story from its website.

Speculation was earlier rife about Mullah Omar`s removal from the list given that the US was reportedly holding talks with the Taliban. While FBI clarified that he never figured in its list, Mullah Omar continued to be on the State department`s Reward for Justice (RFJ) programme list.

Under the RFJ programme, the State Department has declared an award of USD 10 million to anyone who provides information leading to the capture or death of Mullah Omar, believed to be in his early 50s. "Mullah Omar`s status in the RFJ (Reward for Justice) Programme remains unchanged," a State Department official told PTI when asked about news reports.

According to latest information posted on the Rewards For Justice website, Mullah Omar`s Taliban regime in Afghanistan sheltered Osama bin-Laden and his al-Qaeda network in the years prior to the September 11 attacks. "Although Operation Enduring Freedom removed the Taliban regime from power, Mullah Omar remains at large and represents a continuing threat to America and her allies," it said.