Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir al Mumineen (“commander of the faithful”) of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
News outlets were abuzz with reports late Tuesday night that Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammed Omar had died of natural causes. A statement was released on the Taliban’s website, Voice of Jihad, that announced his death, while texts were sent out from the phones of Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid and Mohammad Qari Yousuf. But hopes were quickly dashed when Mujahid and Yousuf contacted the press to deny the reports, and claimed their cell phones and the Voice of Jiahd were hacked. From Reuters:
“This is the work of American intelligence, and we will take revenge on the telephone network providers,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted by Reuters to confirm the veracity of one text message.
The messages came from phone numbers used in the past by both Mujahid and a second spokesman Mohammad Qari Yousuf and said “spiritual Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid has died” and “May Allah bless his soul.”
Yousuf said the hacking was an attempt at psychological warfare by NATO-led forces.
“The enemies have sophisticated technology so they can easily manipulate our website and our phone numbers. The enemies are spreading rumors because they are facing a decisive defeat and their morale is weakened,” he told Reuters.
The Taliban denied reports that Omar was killed one other time this year. In late May, rumors surfaced that Omar was killed while being moved from a safe house in Quetta to North Waziristan.
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