A Taliban spokesman said Wednesday that despite the circulation of phone and Internet messages claiming the group’s one-eyed, bearded, most-wanted leader Mullah Omar had died, Omar was still very much alive.
“He is overseeing operations in the country,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Associated Press. “Outsiders must have hacked into Taliban phones and the Web site.”
Thankfully, Mujahid did not blame Rupert Murdoch’s now-closed tabloid News of the World for the hacking, instead saying U.S. intelligence agencies had pulled the stunt “to demoralize the Taliban.”
The hack was reminiscent of June’s “Operation Cupcake,” when hackers from the U.K. intelligence agency MI6 modified an online al-Qaeda magazine and replaced the bomb recipes inside with cake recipes.
False reports of Omar's death also circulated in May, but were just as staunchly denied by insurgent leaders.
The Taliban says it will exact revenge on mobile phone companies in Afghanistan, which may have been involved in the alleged hacking.
A second Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf, said the group may change the way it puts out news, ditching short text messages for online ones.