Mullah Omar: The Taliban's reclusive leader
(CNN) -- The supreme leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, refuses to be photographed or filmed and rarely travels far from his base in the southern town of Kandahar.
Now in his early 40s he infrequently gives interviews and is thought to have met only two non-Muslims in the past few years.
Nonetheless what Mullah Omar says passes as law in the Taliban's Afghanistan and to challenge him is unknown.
The Commander of the Faithful, as he has become known, created the Taliban in the early 1990s and is their spiritual guide.
Those who have met him say he casts an imposing figure -- bearded with a black turban and with one eye stitched shut; the result of a wound sustained during a gunfight with Soviet troops during their occupation of Afghanistan.
In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, Mullah Omar created the Taliban to overcome what he saw as Afghanistan's descent into warlordism and lawlessness.
His recruits came from the Koranic schools within Afghanistan and in the Afghan refugee camps across the border in Pakistan.
Driven largely by faith they swept across the country.
Before the final assault on Kabul in 1996 Mullah Omar, entered Kandahar's grand mosque and took out a rarely seen holy cloth once carried by the Prophet Mohammed.
Waving it from a rooftop he received an ecstatic response from his Taliban foot soldiers.
Inspired by religious fervor they moved on to take Kabul within a matter of days, bolstering Mullah Omar's belief in his spiritual destiny.
With almost 95 percent of the country under Taliban control he has set himself the goal of transforming Afghanistan into the purest Islamic state in the world, declaring himself Amir-ul-Momineen, or head of the Muslims.
Whilst many ordinary Afghans disagree with his hardline interpretation of Islam, others say they are willing to endure the Taliban's excesses in exchange for the relative peace they have brought to the territory they now control.
In building the perfect Islamic state he has shown little regard for the concerns of the outside world.
Public executions and amputations are common and the Taliban's treatment of women has attracted much international condemnation.
Earlier this year he rejected pressure from around the world -- including from many Muslim countries -- not to go ahead with plans to demolish two ancient statues of the Buddha carved into cliffs near the town of Bamiyan.
The statues, described by many as world-class cultural relics, were blown to bits.
Mullah Omar dismissed the global outcry saying the statues' destruction was merely "breaking stones".
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