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Mohammed Omar

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The only known photo of Omar

Mullah Mohammed Omar (born 1959) is the reclusive leader of the Taliban of Afghanistan who has been in hiding since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. He is wanted by US authorites for harboring international terrorist Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida organization.

Omar is 6'6 tall, considered to be a fierce commander by many and was wounded four times in the jihad against the Soviets, which left him with one eye. Omar has given few interviews, rarely meets with non-Muslims, and there is only one known photo of him - as a young man. Diplomats describe him as shy and untalkative with foreigners. Omar says he has one son.

He was son of a peasant farmer, and grew up in mud huts around the village of Singesar, near Kandahar. He was relatively unknown in Afghanistan until 1994. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, Mullah Omar created the Taliban to overcome what he saw as Afghanistan's descent into warlordism and lawlessness. His recruits came from the Koranic schools within Afghanistan and in the Afghan refugee camps across the border in Pakistan. Reportedly, Omar started the Taliban after a dream in which Allah came to him in the shape of a man, asking him to lead the faithful.

Omar is known for a pure devotion to Islam. He was a mullah with a village madrassah near Kandahar. His title, "Commander of the Faithful," has not been adopted by any Muslim anywhere for nearly 1000 years. In 1996, as Omar accepted the title of "Amirul Momineen," or "commander of the faithful," in an emotional meeting in Kandahar where he appeared on a balcony above thousands of cheering Taliban, wrapping himself in a cloak said to belong to the Prophet Mohammed. The cloak had not been removed from its Kandahar shrine in 60 years, and had never been worn before. Omar is the first Muslim since the Fourth Caliph, a nephew of Prophet Mohammed, to publicly accept the Amirul title, a ranking in Islam nearly second to the Prophet.

Omar's dedication to Islam led him to order the destruction of two large statues of Buddha which stood at the cliffs of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, which were archaeological and historical treasures, but which he characterized as idols. Osama bin Ladin commended Omar for ordering this action.

Many ordinary ethnic Pashtun followers see him as a repository of piety. "It is our duty to follow Omar, he is our father, the first man to take the cloak of the prophet".

Some quotes by Mullah Omar:

  • "I am ready to sacrifice everything in completing the unfinished agenda of our noble jihad...until there is no bloodshed in Afghanistan and Islam becomes a way of life for our people."
  • "God says he will never be satisfied with the infidels. In terms of worldly affairs, America is very strong. Even if it were twice as strong or twice that, it could not be strong enough to defeat us. We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us."

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