Yahoo! News is reporting that the spiritual leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, is dead. Omar, who is known for sheltering Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan during the time of the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan, was declared dead by officials from the Afghan administration and the country’s intelligence agencies. The surprising thing about the claim is that Mullah Omar had probably died two or three years ago. There were reports of the death of mullah Omar being dead in the past as well — but these fresh reports are being taken more seriously than the previous ones, BBC News reports.
The Taliban, who has not confirmed the news of Omar’s death, is, however, expected to make a statement soon. An official from the Afghan government has added that all efforts are being made to verify the reports of Mullah Omar’s death.
“As soon as we get any more authentication… we’re going to let the media and the people of Afghanistan know about that,” Sayed Zafar Hashemi, an official from the government said..
The news of Mullah Omar’s possible death comes a year after the new Afghan government elected last year were in talks with the Taliban for a long term peace process.
Meanwhile, a security official from Pakistan has warned that the reports of the death of Mullah Omar is “mere speculation” that is designed to destabilize the negotiation process between the government and the Taliban.
Mullah Omar rose to fame in the late 90s when he led the Taliban to victory against Afghan militias following the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The Taliban later controlled Afghanistan till 2002, when U.S troops overthrew the regime following the 9/11 attacks. Omar famously hosted Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Following the Afghan war, the U.S. State Department had offered a $10 million bounty to anyone who provided information that would lead to Omar’s capture. The Taliban over the years went on to release several messages that according to them were from Omar. In fact, even as recently as July 11, a statement purported to be from Mullah Omar was released by the Taliban in which he welcomed the peace talks between the Afghan government. However, this was a printed statement as opposed to a recorded audio or video statement. He remained in hiding even after the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
It remains to be confirmed whether this latest news of the death of Mullah Omar proves to be true.
[Image via BBC]