After the US-led invasion, remnants of the Taliban led by Mullah Omar fled over the border into Pakistan, where they are believed to have the protection of Islamabad.
Mullah Omar had been the supreme commander and spiritual leader of the Talibans since 1996.
In a statement released by the Taliban on July 30, the group described Mullah Mansur as one of the most “trusted” associates of the late Mullah Omar and an “active director” of the movement’s war effort.
According to Schultz, the U.S. government is still not in a position to confirm when Mullah Omar died.
Insurgent sources say Omar’s son Mohammad Yakoub and current Taliban deputy Mullah Mansour are both top contenders to replace him, with the group expected to announce his successor soon.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman confirmed reports of Omar’s death, as he said it happened more recently than April 2013 which was a hoax which is the date given by the Afghanistan government previously.
“Pakistan and other friendly countries of Afghanistan hope that the Taliban leadership will stay engaged in the process of peace talks in order to promote a lasting peace in Afghanistan“, the foreign ministry statement said.
Mansoor grew up in Maiwand district of Kandahar province in Afghanistan, and lived not far from the home of Mullah Omar when the country descended into civil war.
Omar’s rise was born from frustration at abuses perpetrated by armed factions in the chaotic early 1990s, and he and his hardline Islamist Taliban movement seized power in 1996.
Like his former boss, who was reclusive and mysterious even in death, little is known publicly about Mansoor. Some prominent commanders did not attend the Shura meeting held on Thursday, while others, including Mullah Omar’s son Yaqoob and brother Mullah Abdul Mannan reportedly left the meeting in anger.
A statement from Pakistan’s foreign minister said the Taliban had requested the postponement amid “uncertainty” following confirmation of the death of Omar.
Omar Samad, senior adviser to Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, also told CNN, “All odds and indications point to the fact that he has been dead for at least two years“.
The IS, however, just like Taliban and Mujahideen before it, can not survive in Afghanistan without outside patrons and sanctuary. The Taliban movement itself was reported to be riven by divisions about whether or not he was alive, and frustration about the leadership void he created or bequeathed.
Sources with knowledge of the nascent Afghan peace process also dismissed reports of Mulla Omar’s death, suggesting they are aimed at derailing the second round of talks planned to take place in Pakistan.
Not all within the insurgency’s ranks believed the man not seen in public since 2001 was still running the show, and when the dissatisfaction surfaced, the Afghan leadership decided to finally kill the myth. That decision is likely to shake the foundations of the Afghan political landscape, officials, diplomats and analysts said.
The Taliban too have confirmed the death of their leader.
Zakir, who is opposed to peace talks and wants Yaqoob to succeed his father, is now openly challenging Akhtar Mansoor.
More vicious is the new Taliban deputy emir Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose terrorist network has carried out nearly all major attacks in the Afghan cities and hit global targets, including the U.S. and Indian embassies.