Mullah Muhammad Omar

Mullah Muhammad Omar is the leader of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He goes under the name of Amir-ul-Momineen, which means Commander of the Faithful. He is considered to be one of the most mysterious figures in Afghan politics today, mostly due to that fact the he has rarely been photographed and hardly speaks to journalists directly. There are even some who doubt his existence. Still there are others who believe Mullah Omar is most likely a nominal figure trained and controlled by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.

Followers of the Taliban claim that Mullah Omar was born in the central province of Uruzgan in 1962. Other sources place his birth in Kandahar. They also say that he studied in several Islamic schools outside of Afghanistan (Quetta, Pakistan) before joining the Jihad against the Russian occupation in the 1980s. It is believed that he lost his eye fighting the Soviets as a deputy Chief Commander in the Harakat-i-Inqilab-i Islami party of Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi.

In the beginning, the story that was propagated by his followers was that Mullah Omar had a dream in which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) appeared to him and told him to bring peace to Afghanistan (US News & World Report, 3-6-95). Mullah Omar then gathered men together to fight against the Rabbani government. In reality this story is probably more myth than historical reality.

Mullah Omar has strong links with another popular figure in world politics, Osama bin Laden. Despite several US requests to hand over Osama bin Laden because of alleged terrorism charges, Mullah Omar refuses and claims he is a guest of the Afghan nation. His current whereabouts are unknown. 

AQ/1997
updated November 18, 2007

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