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Mullah Mohammed Omar

Mullah Omar, ‘Commander of the Faithful’, heads the Taliban regime, which controls approximately 90 per cent of the territory in Afghanistan. Very little is known about his personal life, as he is a reclusive figure reportedly living a secluded life in Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taliban. He rarely gives interviews to the media and has left virtually all contacts to the outside world to the Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil. However, Mullah Omar is the final authority in the Taliban hierarchy.

Born in Mewand district of southwestern Afghanistan in 1962, he studied in several Islamic schools outside Afghanistan before joining the Jehad against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. During the fight against the Soviets, he was reported to have been injured several times including an attack in which his right eye was injured by shrapnel. Upon his return to Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 Mullah Omar resumed his Islamic scholarship in the various madrassas (religious schools). Consequent to the fall of Najibullah regime in April 1992, as also the anarchy in Afghanistan, he launched the Taliban with active support from the Pakistani military and its external intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1994. A large number of madrassas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border provided a significant number of recruits to the Taliban.

In Mullah Omar’s perception, the rationale of the Taliban was to overcome what he saw as Afghanistan’s descent into warlordism. The paramount purpose of Mullah Omar was to forge a unity among the various warring factions and establish a true Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. Initially, the people of Afghanistan welcomed him as a ‘harbinger of peace and stability’ in the war-torn country. The Taliban under his leadership captured Kabul in 1996, founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and also introduced Shariah (Islamic law) as the legal system of the country. With approximately 90 per cent of Afghanistan under Taliban control, Mullah Omar is reported to have commenced the agenda of ‘transforming’ Afghanistan into the ‘purest Islamic State’ in the world. In building such an Islamic state, he has shown little regard for the concerns of the outside world. Recent edicts from Mullah Omar have included death sentence for anyone converting to another religion as well as the infamous orders to destroy the country's ancient Buddha statues. He rejected diplomatic pressure from around the world -- including from many Muslim countries -- not to go ahead with plans to demolish the two ancient statues of the Buddha near the town of Bamiyan. The Taliban militia later destroyed the statues. Mullah Omar dismissed the global outcry by indicating that the statues' destruction was merely ‘breaking stones’.

His association with Osama bin Laden is traced back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Laden is reported to have partially financed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan from which Mullah Omar emerged as the ‘Commander of the Faithful’. Reports also indicate that Mullah Omar has close personal ties with Laden as he has married bin Laden’s eldest daughter and that bin Laden has married one of Mullah Omar’s daughters. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and the US allegation that Osama bin Laden is the prime suspect in the same, Mullah Omar while vigorously defending him has also indicated that Laden does not possess the wherewithal to carry out such lethal terrorist attacks.





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