Mullah Omar (Image BBC)
Rumours are rife once again regarding the wellbeing of Mullah Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban. Uncertainty resurfaced around 3 weeks ago when an online statement claiming to be from Hafiz Saeed Khan (Wilayat Khorasan, leader of the Islamic State in Afghanistan/Pakistan) entitled “Messages to the people of Khurasan” questioned whether he was alive and challenged the Taliban to produce evidence. A series of allegations raised concerns highlighting splits within the Taliban as several Commanders had previously defected to the Islamic State. Hafiz Saeed Khan’s statement (English translation) can be read here,
Today, several media organizations including the BBC ran stories of claims regarding Mullah Omar’s alleged death which were said to have come from “top sources within the Afghan administration and intelligence agency.” Sayed Zafar Hashemi, a spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghania told the BBC that authorities were trying to verify reports stating, “as soon as we get any more authentication… we’re going to let the media and the people of Afghanistan know that.” According to Al Jazeera, the US State Department’s spokesperson, John Kirby could not confirm Omar’s death. The State Department have a $10 million bounty on Mullah Omar’s head asserting that he “represents a continuing threat to America and her allies.”
Rumours of Mullah Omar’s supposed demise are varied. There were varying suggestions as to how the “Commander of the Faithful” may have died. Some said his life ended 2 to 3 years ago from TB or hepatitis and even that he had been murdered. Mullah Omar was not however killed by a dentist from Minnesota. (US citizen Walter Palmer recently caused global outrage over the shooting of an elderly lion at a game park in Zimbabwe but even he could not be blamed for any attempt on the life of the elusive Taliban leader).
Shawal Times was told by Taliban spokesperson today that Mullah Omar
Samiullah Dawar of Shawal Times which covers socio-political issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan contacted me soon after news broke saying he had been in contact “an hour ago” with Zabihullah Mujahid, Islamic Emirate spokesman. Dawar stated,
“I contacted the spokesman and other very important leaders of Afghan Taliban they denied his death. They told that he is alive and has given statement on 17 July on Eid occasion.”
The confusion surrounding the status of Mullah Omar comes at a time of so called peace talks in Murree, Pakistan. Earlier tweets from Abdulqahar Balkhi an English account affiliated with Zabihullah Mudahid advised,
“negotiations, talks, all political affairs will be made public by the Islamic Emirate as previously announced in statements”
“Islamic Emirate does not believe in talks/negotiations behind curtains, Muslims/Afghans have the right to know what is happening”
Referring to talks he said,
“Taliban’s official political office in Qatar ‘not authorized’ ‘hijacked'”
The annual Eid message claiming to be from Mullah Omar can be read here,
“Eid Felicitation message of Amir -ul-Momineen Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid”
There was also a later Taliban article on 25th July 2015 where Mullah Omar reaffirmed his goals saying, “I will strongly defend my sharia-based stance on every front.” The following extract relates to the Islamic Emirate Political Office in Qatar and its activities,
“The esteemed leader, due to his sagacity and God gifted insight, acknowledges the importance of political activities. That is why he established the Political Office for further effectiveness of political momentum and it carries out its activities in light of direct instructions and orders of the esteemed leader. Some internal and external circles are trying to create externations among our oppressed people regarding the political activities of the Islamic Emirate. Thus, on the bases of their futile propaganda, they want to create hurdles in the way of true peace. These selfish activities have drawn the attention of Amir ul Momineen (may Allah, the Almighty protect him) and mentioned it in his message as saying: “We have established a ‘Political Office’ for political affairs, entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring and conducting all political activities”. Through the above mentioned sentence, on one hand the sagacious leader has thwarted and eliminated all overt and covert conspiracies which interrupt the process of durable peace and on the other hand, has kept the political office open as the only reliable and exclusive contact address for peace.”
It was business as usual for the Islamic Emirate spokesperson on social media tweeting the latest advances made by the militants. Taliban commanders have claimed in the past that authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan give out misinformation simply to try to draw key figures out of hiding. Mullah Omar has resisted pressure to “go public” and managed to stay out of the limelight for many years now so it is unlikely that he will appear anytime soon, unless it is of his own choosing.
Social Media response to news of Mullah Omar’s alleged death
Mehreen Zahra Malik
No confirmation yet of
#MullahOmar ‘s death but worth asking why we’re hearing about this now, two days before the 2nd round of peace talks?
Al Qisaas Media
in islam, even women are not supposed to observe the kind of purdah that mullah omar is observing.
if he is martyred i wudnt be sorry… it wud be better than to be a leader with whom unislamic things are being associated
It must be Wednesday, because Mullah Omar is dead again
2 weeks ago Ghani thanked Mullah Omar for his peace talks endorsement, now media reports quoting Ghani’s officials say Omar died 2 years ago
False news to sabotage Peace talks
Sources: apparently, he died of boredom, waiting to be caught by the allied forces.
“The biography of the leader of Islamic Emirate Ameer-ul-Momineen, Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.