KABUL (AFP): The car used by Taliban founder Mullah Omar to escape being targeted by US forces after the 9/11 attacks has been excavated in eastern Afghanistan, where it lay buried for more than two decades, officials said.
The white Toyota Corolla was buried in a village garden in Zabul province by former Taliban official Abdul Jabbar Omari, who ordered it to be dug up this week.
“It is still in good condition, only its front is a bit damaged,” Rahmatullah Hammad, the director of information and culture of Zabul province, told AFP.
“This vehicle was buried by the mujahideen as a memorial to Omar in 2001 to avoid it being lost,” he said.
Taliban media officials published pictures of the car being dug from its vehicular grave by men using hand shovels.
The Taliban want the car to be displayed in the capital’s national museum as a “great historical monument”, Hammad added.
The Taliban were formed in Kandahar by Mullah Omar, who led the hardline Islamist movement to power in 1996 after a bloody civil war, and imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the country.
Afghanistan then became a sanctuary for jihadist groups, including Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, the architects of the September 11 attacks.
When the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden, the US and its allies launched air strikes on Afghanistan, before invading, removing the Taliban from power and installing a new government.
Taliban officials said this week that Mullah Omar made his getaway from Kandahar in the Toyota Corolla.
He died in hiding in 2013, although officials kept his death secret for several years.
After two decades of attempting to hold back a bloody insurgency, Washington withdrew the last of its troops last year as the Taliban swept across the country, seized Kabul and returned to power.