Taliban excavates founding leader’s car, buried to escape US troops

The Taliban have dug up a white Toyota used by their founding leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, to escape into hiding in southern Afghanistan after the US invasion.

Senior officials have called for the vehicle to be put on display at the national museum in Kabul. It already houses the cars and coaches of former kings and prime ministers, including one with bulletproof glass fragmented by an assassination attempt.

“A man travelled in this car who took part in the most amazing events in history,” Anas Haqqani, the brother of the interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and an influential government figure, wrote on Twitter.

“He relied on God Almighty, he commanded (Taliban forces) in an unequal war against dozens of invading countries, and won. This memorial … should be kept in the country’s national museum.”

Defence minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoub – Mullah Omar’s son – ordered officials to uncover the car, which had been buried for around 20 years, a Taliban source said.

Images of the excavation, shared on Twitter by a Taliban-linked activist, showed the car, covered in a sheet of plastic, being dug out by hand from beside the mud wall of a traditional village compound in southern Zabul province.

“This Toyota wagon was used by the late Amir to travel from Kandahar to Zabul province during the start of US-led invasion,” Muhammad Jalal, said. “It is in good condition.”

Bette Dam, author of a biography of the Taliban founder, Looking for the Enemy, said Omar was known to have left his Kandahar base in a white Toyota at the end of 2001 after US-backed forces toppled the government in Kabul.

Toyota Wagon belonging to the founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, late Mullah Muhammad Umar Mujahid has been dug up and will be cleaned. This Toyota wagon was used by the late Amir to travel from Kandahar to Zabul province during the start of US led invasion.

— Muhammad Jalal (@MJalal313) July 5, 2022

He would spend the rest of his life within walking distance of US bases there despite a $10m bounty on his head. US forces once searched a house where he was hiding, an aide told Dam, but did not find the entrance to a secret room that hid him.

Omar died in 2013, but the movement did not admit his death until two years later. Omar had effectively handed over practical control of the insurgency to his deputies in 2001, when he went into hiding.

At the time the Taliban were trying to surrender to the new US-backed government in Kabul led by Hamid Karzai, the president, but the US refused to accept their plea.

“The car can be seen as significant – Omar used it during a historical moment for peace,” said Dam. “When he entered this white Toyota, and left his office, most of his leadership had surrendered…

“He himself took at that moment the decision to disappear to his grandfather’s land. I didn’t know about the hiding of the car but I am sure they didn’t feel safe at all … because soon the hunting down of the surrendered Taliban started, so he buried the car and was hiding.”


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.