Channel 4 News has learned that the dead Afghan Taliban chief’s relatives are refusing to swear allegiance to his successor.
Mullah Omar’s death was confirmed by the Taliban last week. The Afghan government said the one-eyed cleric died more than two years ago.
On Saturday a new audio recording from his succcessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, emerged. The new leader called for unity amid reports of splits among different Taliban factions.
The jihadi group has been fighting the US-backed Afghan government since being ousted from power after the US invasion in 2001.
Omar’s brother, Abdul Manan, issued a recorded message in Pashto on behalf of the dead leader’s family to say they will not accept any new chief without the agreement of all leading members of the militant group.
We have not declared allegiance to anyone and will never do it because of the differences over the new leader. Abdul Manan
Manan said: “We have not declared allegiance to anyone and will never do it because of the differences over the new leader.
“We also want the religious leaders to resolve the differences rather than siding with any one or declaring allegiance to any side.
“The Ameer-ul-Momineen (leader of the faithful) had always desired unity and understanding and he had, to a large extent, succeeded to maintain unity.
“So we want to consult and respect opinion of the ulema (religious leaders), Mujahideen (fighters) and those renowned personalities in the election of the new chief who had played important role in the foundation of the Islamic Emirate.”
We will serve the new leader if he is elected with consensus but will not support anyone including Mullah Akhtar Mansoor if the leaders failed to demonstrate unity. Abdul Manan
He added: “The election with consensus will be homage and respect to the desire of Mullah Mohammad Omar.
“We will serve the new leader if he is elected with consensus but will not support anyone including Mullah Akhtar Mansoor if the leaders failed to demonstrate unity.”
The message highlights the difficulty Akhtar Mansoor faces in unifying different elements of the Taliban.
Some members favour negotiating with the Afghan government, while others want military operations to continue until the Taliban achieves its goal of replacing the elected government with rule by Islamic sharia law.
Former Taliban Minister Mutasim Agha Jan, who was close to Mullah Omar, confirmed to Channel 4 that it is Abdul Manan’s voice on the recording.