Taliban acknowledge Mullah Omar died in 2013

The Taliban say Mullah Mohammed Omar's death was kept secret for more than two years.

Story highlights

  • In statement, Taliban admit former leader died in April 2013
  • Taliban: Death wasn't revealed then to keep morale high as foreign troops pulled out
  • Manifesto claims Mullah Mohammed Omar passed baton to new leader

(CNN)The Taliban, it turns out, were not initially forthcoming about the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Sunni Islamist organization.

Omar died on April 23, 2013, according to a statement the Taliban released Monday in support for his presumed successor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
    The Taliban had acknowledged in late July that Omar was dead at the time Mansour was first announced as the new leader. But the group did not at that time specify when he died.
    Omar's death was kept secret to keep morale high as international intervention in Afghanistan wound down, according to the statement.
    "One of the main reasons behind this decision was due to the fact that 2013 was considered the final year of power-testing between the (mujahedeen) and foreign invaders who in turn had announced that at the end of 2014, all military operations by foreign troops would be concluded," the statement said.
      The section is part of a longer manifesto saying that Omar passed the baton of leadership to Mansour and further outlining the biography and jihadist bona fides of the new leader.
      Under Omar's leadership, the Taliban offered safe haven to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, precipitating the U.S. military action in Afghanistan after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.