Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Taliban denies Mullah Omar 'death'

The Taliban, who have targeted Afghan President Hamid Karzai, have denied reports leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has died
The Taliban, who have targeted Afghan President Hamid Karzai, have denied reports leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has died

Taliban officials in Afghanistan have denied that the group's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has died, claiming that a phone message and a posting on the internet were fake.

Zabiullah Mujahid said a text message sent to journalists on his behalf was the result of a phone hack.

"He is overseeing operations in the country," he said. He added that "outsiders must have hacked into Taliban phones and the website". Mr Mujahid blamed US intelligence agencies, saying they were trying "to demoralise the Taliban".

Rumours spread that Mullah Omar had died when the text message, allegedly sent from Mujahid, announced that the "Amir ul Mumineen", or "commander of the Muslim faithful", was dead. The title is reserved for the Taliban leader.

Afghan and coalition military officials also said they could not confirm the reports of his death.

Another Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said: "Those agents who have been unsuccessful in Afghanistan are now trying to use these tactics to bring down the morale of the mujahedeen."

Mullah Omar has led the decade-long uprising against the US-led military coalition and the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. He ruled most of Afghanistan as leader of its Taliban government before the United States and its allies invaded on October 7 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The decision to invade was tied to Mullah Omar's decision to shelter al Qaida's late leader, Osama bin Laden. The invasion ended Mullah Omar's nearly five-year rule of Afghanistan, a time when the Taliban government imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Women were barred from being educated and forced to cover themselves. Men were not allowed to shave and adultery was punished by stoning people to death.

Mullah Omar's exact age is not known but he is believed to be around 50.

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