Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mullah Omar

Mullah Mohammed Omar (Pashto: ملا محمد عمر; born c. 1959), often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title "Head of the Supreme Council". He held the title Commander of the Faithful of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which was officially recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Mullah Omar has been wanted by the US State Department's Rewards for Justice program since October 2001, for sheltering Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda militants in the years prior to the 11 September attacks. He is believed to be directing the Taliban insurgency against NATO forces and the Karzai administration in Afghanistan.

Despite his political rank and his high status on the Rewards for Justice most wanted list, not much is publicly known about him. Few photos exist of him, none of them official, and a picture used in 2002 by many media outlets has since been established to be another Taliban official. The authenticity of the existing images is debated. Apart from the fact that he is missing one eye, accounts of his physical appearance are contradictory: Omar is described as very tall (some say 2 m). Mullah Omar has been described as shy and non-talkative with foreigners.

During his tenure as Emir of Afghanistan, Omar seldom left Kandahar and rarely met with outsiders, instead relying on Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil for the majority of diplomatic necessities. Many, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, believe that Mullah Omar and his Taliban movement is used as a puppet by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan. Additionally, many current and former U.S. senior military officials such as Robert Gates, Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus and others believe that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are also involved in helping the Taliban.

Personal life
Omar is thought to have been born around 1959 in Nodeh, near the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan to a Pashtun family of poor, landless peasants. He grew up in mud huts in the village in the Maiwand area of Kandahar Province in the south of the country. He is an ethnic Pashtun from the Hotak tribe, which is part of the larger Ghilzai branch.

His father is said to have died before he was born and the responsibility of fending for his family fell to him as he grew older. He is believed to have attended the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa.

 Soviet invasion and radicalization
Omar fought as a guerrilla with the Harakat-i Inqilab-i Islami faction of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen under the command of Nek Mohammad, and fought against the Najibullah regime between 1989 and 1992. It was reported that he was thin, but tall and strongly built, and "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 shrapnel destroyed one of his 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.

After he was disabled, Omar may have studied and taught in a madrasah, or Islamic seminary, in the Pakistani border city of Quetta. He was reportedly a mullah at a village madrasah near the Afghan city of Kandahar.

Unlike many Afghan mujahideen, Omar speaks Arabic. He was devoted to the lectures of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, and took a job teaching in a madrassa in Quetta. He later moved to Binoori 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 Soviet-backed regime in 1992, the country fell into chaos as various mujahideen factions fought for control. Omar returned to Singesar and founded a madrassah. 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. God will help you." Mullah Omar started his movement with less than 50 armed madrassah students, known simply as the Taliban (Students). His recruits came from madrassahs 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. Reportedly, in early 1994, Omar led 30 men armed with 16 rifles to free youths who had been kidnapped and raped by a warlord, hanging the local commander from a tank gun barrel. The youths have been inconsistently identified as two young girls, a single boy, or two boys. His movement gained momentum through the year, and he quickly gathered recruits from Islamic schools. By November 1994, Omar's movement managed to capture the whole of Kandahar Province and then captured Herat in September 1995.

Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
In 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 which was locked in a series of chests, held inside the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed 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. A "reclusive, pious and frugal" leader,[5] Omar visited Kabul twice between 1996 to 2001. 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.

Some believe that Mulla Omar fits the description of the one-eye-blind Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist). In a BBC's Pashto interview after the September 11 attacks in 2001, he told that "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... We will not accept a government of wrong-doers. We prefer death than to be a part of an evil government..."

In hiding
After the US led Operation Enduring Freedom began in early October 2001, Omar went into hiding and is still at large. He is thought to be in the Pashtun tribal region of Afghanistan or Pakistan. At first, the United States offered a reward of US$10 million for information leading to his capture but eventually the reward was raised to US$25 million.

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.

In the opening weeks of October 2001, Omar's house in Kandahar was bombed, killing his stepfather and his 10-year old son.

Mullah Omar continues to have the allegiance of prominent pro-Taliban military leaders in the region, including Jalaluddin Haqqani. Former foe Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's faction has 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".

A captured Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Hanif, told Afghan authorities in January 2007, that Omar was being protected by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Quetta, Pakistan. This matches an allegation made in 2006 by the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, though it is denied by officials in Pakistan.

Numerous statements have been released 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 100+ 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 the ISI, had moved to Karachi in October. In January 2010, Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar, a retired officer with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency 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 Inter-Services Intelligence agency rushed Omar to a hospital near Karachi where he was operated-on and treated, then was released several days later. Pakistan's ambassador to the US, 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 remain 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 email accounts had been hacked, and swore revenge on the telephone network providers.

From : www.wikipedia.org