ملا محمد عمر
|Head of the Supreme Council of Afghanistan|
27 September 1996 – 13 November 2001
Abdul Kabir (acting)
|Preceded by||Burhanuddin Rabbani (President)|
|Succeeded by||Burhanuddin Rabbani (President)|
January 3, 1960|
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
|Died||April 23, 2013 53)(aged|
|Alma mater||Darul Uloom Haqqania|
|Years of service||
• Battle of Arghandab
Afghan Civil War
• Battle of Jalalabad
Mullah Mohammed Omar (Dari / Pashto: ملا محمد عمر, Mullā Muḥammad ‘Umar; 1960 – 23 April 2013), or simply Mullah Omar, was an Afghan mujahideen commander who founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996. The Taliban recognized him as Commander of the Faithful or the Supreme Leader of the Muslims until being succeeded by Mullah Akhtar Mansour in 2015. Mullah Omar was also "Head of the Supreme Council of Afghanistan".
Omar was wanted by the United States Department of State's Rewards for Justice program after October 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda militants in the years prior to the September 11 attacks. He was believed to be directing the Taliban insurgency against NATO-led forces and the government of Afghanistan.
During his tenure as Emir of Afghanistan, Omar seldom left the city of Kandahar and rarely met with outsiders, instead relying on Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil for the majority of diplomatic necessities.
In July 2015, the Afghan government reported that Omar had died in 2013 in the Pakistani city of Karachi. These reports were confirmed by Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Taliban's Quetta Shura.
According to most sources, Omar was born sometime between 1950 and 1962 in a village in Kandahar Province, Kingdom of Afghanistan (in present-day Kandahar Province or Uruzgan Province). Some suggest his birth year as 1950 or 1953, or as late as around 1966. According to a "surprise biography" published by the Taliban in April 2015, he was born in 1960.
His exact place of birth is also uncertain; one possibility is a village called Nodeh near the city of Kandahar. Matinuddin writes that he was born in 1961 in Nodeh village, Panjwai District, Kandahar Province. Others say Omar was born in a village of the same name in Uruzgan Province. In Omar's entry in the UNSC's Taliban Sanctions List, "Nodeh village, Deh Rahwod District, Uruzgan Province" is given as a possible birthplace. Other reports say Omar was born in 1960 in Noori village near Kandahar. 'Noori village, Maiwand District, Kandahar Province' is a second location suggested in Omar's entry in the Sanctions List. According to a biography of Mullah Omar published online by the Taliban in April 2015, he was born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in Khakrez District, Kandahar Province. It has also been mentioned that Sangasar was his home village. Better established than Omar's place of birth is that his childhood home was in Deh Rahwod District, Uruzgan Province, having moved to a village there with his uncle after the death of his father (though some identify the district as Omar's birthplace). He attended Darul Uloom Haqqania.
An ethnic Pashtun, he was born in conservative rural Afghanistan to a poor landless family of the Hotak tribe, which is part of the larger Ghilzai branch. According to Hamid Karzai, "Omar's father was a local religious leader, but the family was poor and had absolutely no political links in Kandahar or Kabul. They were essentially lower middle class Afghans and were definitely not members of the elite." His father Mawlawi Ghulam Nabi Akhund died when Omar was young. According to Omar's own words he was 3 years old when his father died, and thereafter he was raised by his uncles. One of his uncles married Omar's mother, and the family moved to a village in the poor Deh Rawod District, where the uncle was a religious teacher. It is reported that they lived in the village of Dehwanawark, close to the town of Deh Rahwod.
After the 1978 Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, Omar went to Karachi, Pakistan, in 1979 to study at the Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia, the city's premier seminary for orthodox Sunni Muslims." After the Soviet invasion, the family moved to Tarinkot in Urozgan province. Young Mohammed was left to fend for his family. Unemployed, Omar moved to Singesar village in Kandahar province, and became the mullah, where he established a madrassa in a mud hut. He returned to Afghanistan in 1982 to fight with Hizb-e-Islami party, one of seven such parties training across the Afghan province.
Omar fought as a rebel soldier with the anti-Soviet Mujahideen under the command of Nek Mohammad of the Hizb-e-Islami Khalis, but did not fight against the communist regime of Najibullah between 1989 and 1992. It was reported that he was "a crack marksman who had destroyed many Soviet tanks during the Afghan War."
Omar was wounded four times. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef claims to have been present when exploding shrapnel destroyed one of Omar's eyes during a battle in Sangsar, Panjwaye District shortly before the 1987 Battle of Arghandab. Other sources place this event in 1986 or in the 1989 Battle of Jalalabad.
Unlike many Afghan mujaheddin, Omar spoke Arabic. He was devoted to the lectures of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, and took a job teaching in a madrassa in Quetta, Pakistan. He later moved to a mosque in Karachi, where he led prayers, and later met with Osama bin Laden for the first time.
Forming the Taliban
Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of Najibullah's regime in 1992, the country fell into chaos as various mujahideen factions fought for control. Mullah Omar went back to the madrassa at Singesar, although when he returned to religious teaching is unclear. According to one legend, in 1994, he had a dream in which a woman told him: "We need your help; you must rise. You must end the chaos. Allah will help you." Mullah Omar started his movement with less than 50 armed madrassah students, known simply as the Taliban (Pashtun for 'students'). His recruits came from madrassas in Afghanistan and from the Afghan refugee camps across the border in Pakistan. They fought against the rampant corruption that had emerged in the civil war period and were initially welcomed by Afghans weary of warlord rule. Apparently, Omar became sickened by the abusive raping of children by warlords and turned against their authority in the mountainous country of Afghanistan from 1994 onwards.
The practice of bacha bazi by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban. Reportedly, in early 1994, Omar led 30 men armed with 16 rifles to free two young girls who had been kidnapped and raped by a warlord, hanging him from a tank gun barrel. Another instance arose when in 1994, a few months before the Taliban took control of Kandahar, two militia commanders confronted each other over a young boy whom they both wanted to sodomize. In the ensuing fight, Omar's group freed the boy; appeals soon flooded in for Omar to intercede in other disputes. His movement gained momentum through the year, and he quickly gathered recruits from Islamic schools totaling 12,000 by the year's end, with some Pakistani volunteers. By November 1994, Mullah Omar's movement managed to capture the whole of the Kandahar Province and then captured Herat in September 1995. Although some accounts estimated that by the spring of 1995 he had already taken 12 of the 31 provinces in Afghanistan.
Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
On 4 April 1996, supporters of Mullah Omar bestowed on him the title Amir al-Mu'minin (أمير المؤمنين, "Commander of the Faithful"), after he donned a cloak alleged to be that of Muhammad that was locked in a series of chests, held inside the Shrine of the Cloak in the city of Kandahar. Legend decreed that whoever could retrieve the cloak from the chest would be the great Leader of the Muslims, or "Amir al-Mu'minin".
In September 1996, Kabul fell to Mullah Omar and his followers. The civil war continued in the northeast corner of the country, near Tajikistan. The nation was named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in October 1997 and was recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Described as a "reclusive, pious and frugal" leader, Omar very seldom left his residence in the city of Kandahar, and visited Kabul only twice between 1996 and 2001 during his tenure as ruler of Afghanistan. In November 2001 during a radio interview with the BBC, Omar stated: "All Taliban are moderate. There are two things: extremism ['ifraat', or doing something to excess] and conservatism ['tafreet', or doing something insufficiently]. So in that sense, we are all moderates – taking the middle path."
According to Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, Mullah Omar stated in the late 1990s that "We have told Osama not to use Afghan soil to carry out political activities as it creates unnecessary confusion about Taliban objectives."
In July 1999, Mullah Mohammed Omar issued a decree in favor of the preservation of the Bamiyan Buddha statues. Because Afghanistan's Buddhist population no longer exists, so the statues are no longer worshiped, he added: "The government considers the Bamiyan statues as an example of a potential major source of income for Afghanistan from international visitors. The Taliban states that Bamiyan shall not be destroyed but protected."
In March 2001, the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban under an edict issued from Mullah Omar, stating: "all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed." This prompted an international outcry. Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam. "They came out with a consensus that the statues were against Islam," said Jamal. A statement issued by the ministry of religious affairs of the Taliban regime justified the destruction as being in accordance with Islamic law. The then Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef held that the destruction of the Buddhas was finally ordered by Abdul Wali, the Minister for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar explained why he ordered the statues to be destroyed in an interview:
I did not want to destroy the Bamiyan Buddha. In fact, some foreigners came to me and said they would like to conduct the repair work of the Bamiyan Buddha that had been slightly damaged due to rains. This shocked me. I thought, these callous people have no regard for thousands of living human beings -- the Afghans who are dying of hunger, but they are so concerned about non-living objects like the Buddha. This was extremely deplorable. That is why I ordered its destruction. Had they come for humanitarian work, I would have never ordered the Buddha's destruction.
In July 2000, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, collaborating with the United Nations to eradicate heroin production in Afghanistan, declared that growing poppies was un-Islamic, resulting in one of the world's most successful anti-drug campaigns. The Taliban enforced a ban on poppy farming via threats, forced eradication, and public punishment of transgressors. The result was a 99% reduction in the area of opium poppy farming in Taliban-controlled areas, roughly three quarters of the world's supply of heroin at the time. The ban was effective only briefly due to the deposition of the Taliban in 2002.
September 11 attacks
Following the September 11 attacks orchestrated by al-Qaeda, the United States under the Bush administration issued an ultimatum to Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden and other high ranking al-Qaeda officials and shut down all al-Qaeda training camps within the country. In an interview with Voice of America, Omar was asked if he would give up Osama bin Laden. Omar replied, "No. We cannot do that. If we did, it means we are not Muslims, that Islam is finished. If we were afraid of attack, we could have surrendered him the last time we were threatened." Omar explained his position to high-ranking Taliban officials:
Islam says that when a Muslim asks for shelter, give the shelter and never hand him over to enemy. And our Afghan tradition says that, even if your enemy asks for shelter, forgive him and give him shelter. Osama has helped the jihad in Afghanistan, he was with us in bad days and I am not going to give him to anyone."
Omar was adamant that bin Laden was innocent of planning the 9/11 attacks despite the accusations directed against him. Despite this, high ranking Taliban officials attempted to persuade Omar and made offers to the United States through its contacts with Pakistan. The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said at a news conference in Islamabad that "our position in this regard is that if the Americans have evidence, they should produce it." If they can prove their allegations, he said, "we are ready for a trial of Osama bin Laden." The Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil also attempted to negotiate, offering the Americans the proposal of setting up a three-nation court under the supervision of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference as it was a "neutral organization" or having bin laden tried by an Islamic council in Afghanistan. Muttawakil said "the US showed no interest in it." The Taliban Prime Minister Abdul Kabir stated that if evidence was provided, "we would be ready to hand him over to a third country".
The Supreme Council of the Islamic Clergy, a council of around 1,000 clerics convened in Kabul in late September 2001 and issued a decree against the United States and its threats of militarily invading Afghanistan. They also recommended that Osama bin Laden be asked to leave Afghanistan of his own free will to "avoid the current tumult" and expressed sympathy and a conciliatory tone towards those who died in the September 11 attacks: "The ulema voice their sadness over American deaths and hope America does not attack Afghanistan." The Taliban Education Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said that Omar had agreed to follow guidance offered by the clerics and would encourage bin laden to leave Afghanistan without handing him over to the United States for prosecution.
However, according to an interview with Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, Omar told him:
"I don't want to go down in history as someone who betrayed his guest. I am willing to give my life, my regime. Since we have given him refuge I cannot throw him out now."
According to Afghan experts, Mullah Omar and the clerics wanted to rid themselves of bin Laden by asking him to leave Afghanistan without compromising their previous assertion that their Afghan culture and Islamic principles prohibited them from endangering their guest.
Shortly after the U.S.-led War in Afghanistan began in early October 2001, Omar's house in Kandahar was bombed, killing his 10-year-old son and his uncle.
According to fellow Taliban fighters, Omar had secretly fled his residence in Kandahar for security purposes and was last seen riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by his brother-in-law and right-hand man, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Senior and former Taliban officials have said that there has not been one confirmed sighting of their Amir-ul-Momineen (commander of the faithful) in Afghanistan since then. Omar is believed to have hid out for over one year in the mountains and deserts of southern Afghanistan before fleeing to neighboring Pakistan in late 2002. According to sources, he was living for a time somewhere in Karachi, Pakistan, where he worked as a potato trader. The United States offered a reward of US$10 million for information leading to his capture. In November 2001, he was heard over a short-wave radio in ordering all Taliban troops to abandon Kabul and take to the mountains, noting, "defending the cities with front lines that can be targeted from the air will cause us terrible loss." In a November 2001 BBC's Pashto interview, Omar said, "You (the BBC) and American puppet radios have created concern. But the current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause – that is the destruction of America.... This is not a matter of weapons. We are hopeful for God's help. The real matter is the extinction of America. And, God willing, it [America] will fall to the ground...."
Claiming that the Americans had circulated "propaganda" that Mullah Omar had gone into hiding, Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil stated that he would like to "propose that prime minister Blair and president Bush take Kalashnikovs and come to a specified place where Omar will also appear to see who will run and who not." He stated that Omar was merely changing locations due to security reasons.
Mullah Omar continued to have the allegiance of prominent pro-Taliban military leaders in the region, including Jalaluddin Haqqani. The former foe Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's faction also reportedly allied with Omar and the Taliban. In April 2004, Omar was interviewed via phone by Pakistani journalist Mohammad Shehzad. During the interview, Omar claimed that Osama Bin Laden was alive and well, and that his last contact with Bin Laden was months before the interview. Omar declared that the Taliban were "hunting Americans like pigs."
In the years following the allied invasion numerous statements were released that were identified as coming from Omar. In June 2006, a statement regarding the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was released hailing al-Zarqawi as a martyr and claimed that the resistance movements in Afghanistan and Iraq "will not be weakened". Then in December 2006 Omar reportedly issued a statement expressing confidence that foreign forces will be driven out of Afghanistan.
In January 2007, it was reported that Omar made his "first exchange with a journalist since going into hiding" in 2001 with Muhammad Hanif via email and courier. In it he promised "more Afghan War", and said the over one hundred suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan in the last year had been carried out by bombers acting on religious orders from the Taliban – "the mujahedeen do not take any action without a fatwa." In April 2007, Omar issued another statement through an intermediary encouraging more suicide attacks.
In November 2009, The Washington Times claimed that Omar, assisted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had moved back to Karachi in October. In January 2010, Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar, a retired officer with ISI who previously trained Omar, said that he was ready to break with his al-Qaida allies in order to make peace in Afghanistan: "The moment he gets control the first target will be the al-Qaida people."
In January 2011, The Washington Post, citing a report from the Eclipse Group, a privately operated intelligence network that may be contracted by the CIA, stated that Omar had suffered a heart attack on 7 January 2011. According to the report, Pakistan's ISI rushed Omar to a hospital near Karachi where he was operated on, treated, and then released several days later. Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, stated that the report "had no basis whatsoever".
On 23 May 2011, TOLO News in Afghanistan quoted unnamed sources saying Omar had been killed by ISI two days earlier. These reports remained unconfirmed. A spokesman for the militant group said shortly after the news came out. "Reports regarding the killing of Amir-ul-Moemineen (Omar) are false. He is safe and sound and is not in Pakistan but Afghanistan." On 20 July 2011, phone text messages from accounts used by Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid and Qari Mohammad Yousuf announced Omar's death. Mujahid and Yousuf, however, quickly denied sending the messages, claimed that their mobile phones, websites, and e-mail accounts had been hacked, and they swore revenge on the telephone network providers.
On 31 May 2014, in return for the release of American prisoner of war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, five senior Afghan detainees were released from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. A person purporting to be Omar reportedly hailed their release.
On 23 September 2014, Omar's aide, Abdul Rahman Nika, was killed by Afghan special forces. According to Afghan intelligence service spokesman Abdul Nasheed Sediqi, Nika was involved in most of the Taliban's attacks in western Afghanistan, including the kidnapping of three Indian engineers, who were later rescued.
Post-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan
In December 2014, acting Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil stated he was not sure "whether Omar is alive or dead". This came amid reports after the Afghan intelligence agency revealed fracturing within the Taliban movement, speculating that a leadership struggle had ensued and therefore that Mullah Omar had died. Later reports from Afghan intelligence in December revealed that Mullah Omar has been hiding in the Pakistani city of Karachi. An anonymous European intelligence official who confirmed this has stated that "there's a consensus among all three branches of the Afghan security forces that Mullah Omar is alive. Not only do they think he's alive, they say they have a good understanding of where exactly he is in Karachi."
Emergence of ISIS
In April 2015, a man claiming to be Mullah Omar issued a fatwa declaring pledges of allegiance to the Islamic State group as forbidden in Islamic law. The man described ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a "fake caliph", and said "Baghdadi just wanted to dominate what has so far been achieved by the real jihadists of Islam after three decades of jihad. A pledge of allegiance to him is 'haram'." However, Mullah Omar was later found to have died two years earlier, suggesting that these remarks came from his successor Akhtar Mansour.
On 29 July 2015, the Afghan government publicly announced that Mohammed Omar had died on 23 April 2013 from tuberculosis. It was confirmed by a senior Taliban member that Omar's death was kept a secret for two years. It is alleged that Omar was "buried somewhere near the border on the Afghan side". The place of Omar's death is disputed; according to Afghan government sources, he died in Karachi, Pakistan. A former Taliban minister stated that Karachi was "Omar's natural destination because he had lived there for quite some time and was as familiar with the city as any other resident." However, this claim has been dismissed by other Taliban members, stating that his death occurred in Afghanistan after his health condition had deteriorated due to "sickness", and that "not for a single day did he go to Pakistan". According to an official statement by Pakistani defence minister Khawaja Asif, "Mullah Omar neither died nor was buried in Pakistan and his sons’ statements are on record to support this. Whether he died now or two years ago is another controversy which we do not wish to be a part of. He was neither in Karachi nor in Quetta." Initially, some Taliban members denied that he had died; other sources considered the report to be speculative, designed to destabilise peace negotiations in Pakistan between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), said: "We confirm officially that he is dead."
The following day, the Taliban confirmed the death of Omar; sources close to the Taliban leadership said his deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, would replace him, although with the lesser title of Supreme Leader. Omar's eldest son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob was opposed to Mansour's ascension as leader.
The Taliban splinter group Fidai Mahaz claimed Omar did not die of natural causes but was instead assassinated in a coup led by Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Mullah Gul Agha. The Taliban commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, brother of former senior commander Mullah Dadullah confirmed that Omar had been assassinated. The leader of Fidai Mahaz, Mullah Najibullah, revealed that due to Omar's kidney disease, he needed medicine. According to Najibullah, Mansour poisoned the medicine, damaging Omar's liver and causing him to grow weaker. When Omar summoned Mansour and other members of Omar's inner circle to hear his will, they discovered that Mansour was not to assume leadership of the Taliban. It was due to Mansour allegedly orchestrating "dishonourable deals". When Mansour pressed Omar to name him as his successor, Omar refused. Mansour then shot and killed Omar. Najibullah claimed Omar died at a southern Afghanistan hide-out in Zabul Province in the afternoon on 23 April 2013. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, Mullah Omar's elder son denied that his father had been killed, insisting that he died of natural causes.
Despite his political rank and his high status on the Rewards for Justice most wanted list, not much was publicly known about him. Before his death, only two known photos existed of him, neither of them official, and a picture used in 2002 by many media outlets has since been established to be someone other than him. The authenticity of the existing images is debated. After his death the Taliban released a newer and clearer photo showing Omar in his youth in 1978. Apart from the fact that he had a missing eye, accounts of his physical appearance state that Omar was thin, strongly built and very tall, at around 2 m (6 ft 6 in). Mullah Omar was described as shy and non-talkative with foreigners.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Mohammed Omar|
- Works by or about Mohammed Omar in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "Mohammed Omar collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- Mullah Mohammed Omar collected news and commentary at Newsweek
- "Mullah Omar – in his own words", The Guardian, 26 September 2001
- "Interview with Mullah Omar – transcript", BBC News, 15 November 2001
- Investigating Terror: Accomplices, BBC News, 2001
- US says Mullah Omar 'in Pakistan', BBC News, 9 February 2008
- Mullah Mohammed Omar, Hindustan Times, 6 September 2009
- Profile: Mullah Mohammed Omar, BBC News, 6 July 2010
- DIA releases through the FOIA:
as President of Afghanistan
|Emir of Afghanistan
| Succeeded by|
as President of Afghanistan