Afghan officials, citing the nation’s intelligence agency, are claiming that Taliban leader Mullah Omar, a reclusive man for whom only a handful of putative photographs even exist, died over two years ago in the Pakistani city of Karachi in a hospital.
This is the fourth time Omar has been reported dead since the 2001 US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which removed him from power. Throughout all that time, statements have continued to emerge that claim to be from him, the most recent only two weeks ago, an endorsement of the Afghan peace process.
Afghan officials are saying Omar’s death, even if it’s not particularly recent, proves the need for peace talks, though the timing seems awkward since it would undercut Omar’s own endorsement of the process.
Bizarrely enough, media reports claim that the Taliban’s leadership council, the Quetta Shura, are “beginning” to have meetings on a successor, which seems belated if Omar has actually been dead for multiple years. There was no indication who is in the running.
Ultimately, very little was known about Omar to begin with, and his apparent death may or may not have any impact on the ongoing war at any rate. If the narrative of him being dead a long time ago proves valid, it suggests he was of limited import to day-to-day operations, since the Taliban didn’t visibly skip a beat since then.