The New York Times quotes Zalmay Khalilzad Chair on Afghanistan and Resident Senior Fellow James B. Cunningham on the death of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the secretive leader of the Taliban:
American officials said they had long ago come to believe that Mullah Omar’s role in the insurgency was primarily spiritual, and that he had little to no operational control over the Taliban. In an interview last year, a former American military commander went so far as to compare Mullah Omar to the medieval Spanish commander El Cid, whose corpse, according to legend, was suited with armor and propped up on a horse to bolster Spanish troops fighting the Moors.
“It’s not that we weren’t trying to find him; we just never had the lines to do it,” said James B. Cunningham, a former American Ambassador to Afghanistan. “Even most of the Taliban didn’t know where he was.” Mr. Cunningham said that while “it’s probably fair to say” that the United States “caught a break on” Osama bin Laden, that never happened with Mullah Omar.