The Taliban have published a biography of their leader, Mullah Omar, who has spent a decade in hiding, stating that he is alive and remains in touch with the current events and political developments in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar has not appeared in public since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
But, why did Mullah Omar feel the need to address the rumours about his serious illness or death?
The release of Omar’s accounts could either be a sign of the Taliban’s regained strength following the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country or – perhaps more likely – a reaction to defections from within and an attempt to reunite the increasingly scattered and demoralised group. With the growing influence of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan many disgruntled commanders are believed to have withdrawn support and pledged allegiance with IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. So with the re-emergence of Mullah Omar, the Taliban hope to reinstate their power and boost fighters’ morale.