Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour is dead
Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, a Taliban leader, has been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. Mansour along with another male were both killed during a strike on the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban.
Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, who was also known as Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, was killed on Saturday.
According to several sources, including the Secretary of State John Kerry, Senior Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Rauf, and Afghan authorities, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour along with an unnamed man died during an American airstrike in Pakistan. The attack was carried out by multiple unmanned drones operated by U.S. Special Operations Forces.
He was traveling without his usual large security detail and was apparently carrying a Pakistani passport in the name of Wali Muhammad with a visa for Iran. It has been revealed that Muhammad Mansour, who was elected leader of the Taliban organization in July 2015, died as he was fleeing the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban located in Baluchistan.
Several strikes were approved in the area by President Barack Obama, who stated that the removal of Muhammad Mansour would lead to the Taliban joining a peace process. Who was Mansour?
“Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor born probably 1968, although possibly 1963 or ’65 in in the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan.
During 1985 he joined the jihadi war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and this included, or at sometime also, he joined the Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi group, during the same Soviet–Afghan War. After the capture of Kandahar airport he was appointed as director general, or otherwise termed, security officer in charge, of the Kandahar airport, a role which encompassed both the air-force and air-defence systems of Kandahar. Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour became the Taliban leader after the previous leader Mullah Omar had died of natural causes in 2013 in Pakistan. Mullah Mansoor apparently has a home within Quetta, which is under the protection of Pakistans’ Inter-Services Intelligence agency, and another residence located within Dubai.”
During a press conference in Myanmar, Kerry addressed the strike on the Taliban leader by saying:
“Yesterday, the Unites States conducted a precision airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Mansour posed a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, to afghan civilians, Afghan security forces and resolute support coalition members across the country. And this action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they look to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.”
“The United States has long maintained that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process is the shortest way to achieve peace and peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort and to bringing an end to the violence.”
The Taliban denied that Mansour was killed in a brief statement that read:
“We heard about these baseless reports but this not first time. Just wanted to share with you my own information that Mullah Mansour has not been killed.”
The Taliban has a tradition of denying the deaths of its senior members. It has been confirmed that Obama authorized the airstrike and was briefed before it happened and was kept updated as he was on board Air Force One flying to Vietnam to begin his last official visit to Asia. Mr. Obama called the death:
“…an important milestone… Mansour had rejected peace talks and had “continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces. The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict – joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability.”
Many experts say that the United States and the Afghan government were aware of the Taliban sanctuaries in Baluchistan, but never took action, so this weekend’s strike is “seen as a signal that the Obama administration was growing less patient with Pakistan’s failure to move strongly against the Taliban insurgency.”
Now that Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour is dead, what will happen next? Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. has a theory:
“I imagine there will be a long, ugly, drawn out succession battle, and especially because unlike with the case of Mullah Omar, the loss of Mansour was sudden and unexpected. In a fragmented organization like the Taliban, there are no clear cut successors and there is no clear cut process to select one.”
What are your thoughts in this new shift in direction?