A bit of good news out of Afghanistan as several sources are now confirming that a U.S. air strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Pakistani intelligence, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban all have confirmed that Mansour was killed in the strike.
“Mansour played a key leadership role in not only orchestrating the Taliban but orchestrating a variety of other organizations to include the Haqqani Network and al Qaeda who were perpetrating operations against not only U.S. forces but coalition forces and Afghan forces for a long period of time,” Gen. Joseph Votel of U.S. Central Command said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan. “He’s an individual who has been in that structure for a long time. I’m glad he’s gone.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Mansour “was directly opposed to peace negotiations.”
“This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan,” Kerry said at a news conference in Myanmar. “It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together.”
The United States notified Pakistan’s government of the strike, Kerry said.
Yes, we informed them. But Prime Minister Sharif is upset because the notification came after the fact.
Pakistan protested on Sunday, saying the U.S. government did not inform Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif beforehand.
“This is a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Sharif told reporters in London.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Washington only notified Pakistan after the strike.
And the terrorist Mansour may have been in Iran immediately prior to the attack.
A passport found at the site of a U.S. drone attack targeting Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour bears the name of a Pakistani man named Wali Muhammad and carries a valid Iranian visa, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
The ministry did not directly comment on the possibility that Mansour might have been traveling under another name.
Afghanistan’s spy agency said it was sure Mansour had been killed in the attack, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told reporters in London that Pakistan was unsure if Muhammad was “Mullah Mansour or someone else”. He called the attack “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.
Saturday’s strike, which U.S. officials said was authorized by President Barack Obama and involved multiple drones, took place in Pakistan’s remote Baluchistan area near the Afghan border. Pakistan said the air strike had destroyed a car carrying two people, and that Sharif had not been told about it in advance.
The ministry said one of the charred bodies had been identified as a local taxi driver but the badly burnt second body had not. It added that the purported passport holder was believed to have returned to Pakistan from Iran on May 21, the day of the drone strike targeting Mansour.
Photos of Muhammad’s passport seen by Reuters show a passing resemblance to some of the old photos available of Mansour. “(Muhammad’s) passport was bearing a valid Iranian visa,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Mohammad Qasim, brother of the dead taxi driver, told Reuters his brother had picked up his passenger from Taftan, a town on the Iranian-Pakistani border.
If it is confirmed Mansour had traveled to Iran before his death, it would raise fresh questions about the Taliban’s use of neighboring territories.
What is the leader of an ultra-radical, Sunni terrorist group meeting with an ultra-radical Shiite terror regime?
I leave it to your imagination.
It hardly matters that Mansour was opposed to talking peace with the Afghan government. There are non Taliban groups who won’t talk peace with the Afghan government, so why should it matter? Another devil will take Mansour’s place and the killings will go on as before.
About the best we can hope for is that the new leader is an incompetent fool and gets himself killed in a hurry. The U.S. has given up defeating the Taliban on the battlefield — so any “peace” deal the Afghans make will see the Taliban back in power sooner rather than later.