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Although rumors of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have circulated for years—rumors that the Afghan National Directorate of Security even confirmed several times, first in classified communications with its allies and then in a December 2014 public statement—it was only on July 29, 2015, that the Afghan and U.S. governments affirmed that he had died. Perhaps even more surprising, this time the Taliban admitted that Omar is dead, after having staunchly rejected the possibility for years.
The timing appears odd. Kabul and the Taliban have just recently started meeting officially to discuss a peace process, and acknowledging the death of Omar is not going to help things along. The Taliban tried to gloss over the issue by claiming, through Omar’s younger brother, Mullah Abdul Manan, and his son, Mohammad Yakub, that Omar had just died after a long illness. If that had been true, the timing