By Abdullah Qazi , January 2, 1997
Last updated: June 3, 2018
Mullah Muhammad Omar was the alleged leader of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He went 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 political history. He never gave any interviews with any credible news organization, and during his leadership of the Taliban, many even doubted his existence. Still, there are others who believe Mullah Omar was 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, March 6, 1995). Mullah Omar then gathered men together to fight against the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. In reality this story is probably more myth than historical reality.
Mullah Omar had strong links with another popular figure in world politics, Osama bin Laden. The United States (US) held Osama bin Laden responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite several requests by the US to hand over Osama bin Laden, it was reported that Mullah Omar refused and claimed he was a guest of the Afghan nation. Both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar have been reported to be deceased. Osama bin Laden was reported to be killed by covert US forces in May 2011, and Mullah Omar supposedly died in April 2013 of tuberculosis. His death was kept a secret by the Taliban for two years until it was announced in July 2015 by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS). The Taliban initially denied his death, but later confirmed that he was dead.
Mullah Omar was replaced with Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Unfortunately, Mansour’s leadership of the Taliban did not last long, as it was reported that on May 21, 2016, a US drone attack killed him in Pakistan. A few days later, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada was announced the leader of the Taliban.