Akhtar Mohammad Mansour
ملا اختر محمد منصور
|Supreme leader of the Taliban|
29 July 2015 – 21 May 2016
|Preceded by||Mohammed Omar|
|Succeeded by||Hibatullah Akhundzada|
|Minister of Civil Aviation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan|
September 1996 – December 2001
Karize, Band Taimor, Maywand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
|Died||21 May 2016|
Ahmad Wal, Balochistan, Pakistan
|Alma mater||Darul Uloom Haqqania|
|Years of service||1985–1992|
Afghan Civil War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour (/ , /; Pashto: اختر محمد منصور; c. 1968 – 21 May 2016) was the leader of the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan, from 29 July 2015 to 21 May 2016.
Mansoor is thought to have been born either in a village named Kariz or another village named Band-i-Taimoor (source: I.E.A.), both of which are situated within the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, sometime during the 1960s. The biography released by the Talibans' Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website shows 1347 for his date of birth, which is according to the solar Hijri calendar, which corresponds to 1968. This year of birth is corroborated by S. Mehsud, of the C.T.C. West Point. According to Ahmed Rashid, Mansoor belonged to the Alizai tribe, but other sources claim that he was of the Ishaqzai tribe,[note 1] in any case, both the Alizai and the Ishaqzai are of the Durrani line of the Pashtun people. Mullah Mansoor was educated at a village mosque and joined primary school at about the age of seven (source: I.E.A.).
Soviet war and mujahideen era
Sometime during the year 1985, he joined the jihadi war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This involvement included his participation within the Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi group. During the same time Mohammad Omar was a commander of an organization within Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi. Mansoor participated in the war ( jihad ) against members of the Soviet military, within Maiwand, Sang-e-Hessar, Zangawat and other parts of the city, and the Pashmul area of the Panjwai district, under the command of Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhond, apparently commanded by him at least while fighting at the last location. During 1987 he was apparently injured (sustaining 13 separate wounds according to the I.E.A. source), while stationed at Sanzary area of Panjwai district in Kandahar. Known as one of the prominent warriors, Mansoor joined the Maulvi Obaidullah Ishaqzai group in 1987 but later Ishaqzai surrendered to Nur ul-Haq Ulumi, now the interior minister. Soon afterwards, he migrated to Quetta.
After the war, Mansoor resumed his religious education in different seminaries and later shifted to Peshawar where he joined Jamia Mohammadia at the Jalozai Refugee camp. He was a student at Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa, which is where Mohammed Omar also studied. He was apparently a popular student, during his time at the madrassa from 1994 to 1995, located within the Jalozai refugee camp for Afghans near Peshawar, Pakistan, according to Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai, who met him during that time.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
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. After the taking of Kabul during the 1996 he was made director of Ariana airlines, and additionally Minister of the Emirate for aviation and tourism, by Mohammed Omar, within the Talebani Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, together with his overseeing the Emirates' air force and air-defence systems, from his additional appointment as head of these within the ministry of defence. Notably, while minister, Mullah Mansoor organized a 24-hour flights services within Afghanistan, thereby organizing the provision of facilities for Muslims to go to Mecca as Hajj via air-flight. During 1996 the Mullah appointed the individual Farid Ahmed to station manager of Ariana airlines.
During 1997, when the Taliban tried unsuccessfully to capture the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Mansoor was captured by an Uzbek warlord. For two months he remained there as a prisoner of war before Mohammed Omar traded him out.
During 1998, the Mullah visited amongst other places within the area, Frankfurt, and Prague of the Czech Republic, for a period of 25 days, as part of his visit to the unofficial envoy to Europe at the time, Mullah Nek Muhammad:
He came to Germany to purchase airport equipment, parts for airliners and military choppers for the Taliban air force— Mullah Nek Muhammad, as reported by S. Yousafzai
After the conclusion of the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814, Akther Masour is reported, by Anand Arni, a former officer with the Indian organisation Research & Analysis Wing, as being seen embracing Maulana Masood Azhar, the then leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed.
In 2001, he surrendered to the Afghan President Hamid Karzai to ask for amnesty. He was forgiven after which he returned to his home district. American forces however refusing to believe he and other senior Taliban commanders had given up fighting, conducted a series of night raids to capture him after which he fled to Pakistan, where he helped to shape the Taliban as an insurgent organisation.
2007 and later
Quetta Shura and Taliban insurgency
According to leaked material, Mansour attended a meeting dated 24 August 2007 with other senior Taliban officials, so that he and those others present might discuss and organize a potential suicide bombing and bombing campaign upon the areas of Kandahar and the Helmand Province, and also particularly focused on killing Ahmad Wali Karzai and Hamid Karzai.
The council of the Taliban appointed him as deputy to the newly appointed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during 2007, the Indian Express reported Akthar Mansour as appointed to the Taliban's Quetta Shura (council for political and military matters and affairs), sometime during 2007, while within Quetta. One source gives Mansoor as being appointed deputy to Mohammed Omar during 2010; another source states him to have been "by some accounts" the second most senior member of the Taliban behind Mohammed Omar, during 2010. A contradictory report states his appointment occurred during 2013 after Abdul Ghani Baradar, the then deputy, was jailed. A source claims to know of Akther Mansour having a "direct influence" over military units operating within Khost, Paktia and Paktika, at a time after his appointment to the Council of the Taliban.
Listed by the United Nations for sanctioning
In a communique published 29 November 2011, the Mullah was identified with the reference number TI.M.11.01. as an individual associated with the Taliban and accordingly was made pursuant to sanctions, as of 25 January 2001, and those sanctioned were to have any available assets frozen, to be banned from traveling and to be subject to an arms embargo.
2013 - June 2015
in 2013 he convinced other Taliban leaders to open the group's political office in Qatar to initiate negotiations with the West.
According to a 2014 report, Akther Mansoor, together with Abdul Qayum Zakir and Gul Agha Ishakzai, were stated to be involved in fighting over control of a major opium-producing area (land of Maiwand District) against a co-founder of the Taliban movement, Abdul Ghani Baradar.
An article, published 12 March 2015, stated Mullah Mansour and Abdul Qayum Zakir, who were long-term rivals, had met together in order to find an agreement and at the meeting had slaughtered sheep for the purposes of a feast. The article stated Mansour was in favour of initiating so-called talks with Afghani government officials at the time, but was unable to make any progress in his own direction due to Zakir being opposed to the opening of a dialogue with the Afghan government.
Mansour wrote a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on behalf of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, released on June 16, 2015, in order to express his concerns of the potential for a negative influence of ISIS upon Afghan Talibans' progress, since ISIS activities might pose a risk of causing "multiplicity" within forces of the jihad of Afghanistan. The letter, appealing to the unity of "religious brotherhood", requests al-Baghdadi might extend "goodwill" to the Taliban, which "doesn't want to see interference in its affairs". The letter was written in the Pashto language, and released within the Voice of Jihad site.
Additionally, the letter shows Mansour considered the late (Sheikhs) Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden, the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Ibn al-Khattab, to be heroes. In addition the letter expresses recognition of the support to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, of "famous religious scholars", of these he provides (Sheikh) Hamud bin Uqla al Shuaybi as an example.
July 2015 - May 2016
Leader of the Taliban
The Taliban splinter group Fidai Mahaz claimed Mohammed Omar was assassinated in a coup led by Akhtar Mansour and Gul Agha. Taliban commander Mansoor Dadullah, brother of former senior commander Dadullah, also claimed that Omar had been assassinated. Mullah Yaqoob, Omar's eldest son, denied that his father had been killed, insisting that he died of natural causes. A Ṭālibān communique published 30 July 2015 stated Mullah Omar had died within hospital.
Some Taliban sources considered Mansour's selection as leader to be invalid, while other senior Ṭālibān commanders and officials preferred Mohammed Omar's eldest son, Mohammad Yaqoob, to have ascended as leader. Yaqoob was said to have been supported by his uncle, Abdul Manan and former Taliban military chief Abdul Qayyum Zakir. The head of the Talibans' political office in Qatar, Tayyab Agha also opposed the selection of Mansour as leader. However, a statement allegedly from Zakir denied he had any conflict with Mansour. Yaqoob is known to have publicly rejected the appointment of Akhtar Mansoor.
Features of Mansoor's leadership
The Brookings Institution reported the Mullah referred to his own leadership as Commander of the faithful, a translation of Amir al-Mu'minin. A separate source states the Mullah used this particular title to refer to his role as leader of jihad. The Mullah was, according to RAND corporation, and elsewhere, leading a jihad (i.e. an insurgent force) limited to concerns orientated only to within Afghanistan, and not elsewhere.
... We should all work to preserve unity, division in our ranks will only please our enemies, and cause further problems for us ...Our goal and slogan is to implement sharia and an Islamic system, and our jihad will continue until this is done ...
The Mullah stated his position with regards to peace talks; the suggestion of his being willing to engage in peace talks as "enemy propaganda".
The website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan published a biography of Mullah A.M. Mansoor on the occasion of his becoming Emir.
On 21 May 2016, U.S. military conducted an airstrike against Mullah Mansour's vehicle coming from Iran, near Ahmad Wal, not far from Pakistan–Afghanistan border. It was reported by a United States Department of Defense official that Mansour had been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. The reporting official, who was not sanctioned to speak publicly about the attack, said Mansour and a second militant were believed killed when a drone hit a vehicle in which they were riding. According to reports, Mullah Mansour was on his way to attend peace talks with US and Afghan officials in Pakistan. The death of Mansour was also later officially confirmed separately by the Afghan government and members of the Taliban.
Response by President Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Monday, 23 May 2016, that Mansour had been killed in the American airstrike which he had sanctioned. President Obama stated afterwards that he had hoped Mansour's death would lead to the Taliban joining a peace process.
Response by U.S. Secretary of State and State Department
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a press conference: "Yesterday, the United States conducted a precision airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Mansour posed a continuing, imminent threat" to U.S. personnel and Afghans. Kerry also declared that the leaders of both Pakistan and Afghanistan were made aware of the airstrike but he refused to elaborate on the timing of the notifications, which he said included a telephone call from him to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A U.S. State Department spokesperson claimed that "I don’t have any more clarity of where the actual strike took place. What I can say is that it was in that border region. I just can’t say on which side of the border it was."
Responses from other sources
According to the Wall Street Journal, the strike took place on the N-40 National Highway as Mansour was being driven by taxi from the Iranian border to Quetta, after a "lengthy" stay in Iran. Later reports placed the missile strike close to the town of Ahmad Wal. The U.S. government agencies involved reportedly agreed that officials were to be vague about identifying the location of the strike, beyond saying it took place along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
According to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, U.S. officials stated that Mullah Mansour's death was "unavoidable" due to the then Emir being unwilling to engage in peace talks.
Impact on peace process in Afghanistan
Mullah Mansour was believed to be among those Talibans leaders who are reconcilable and actually wanted a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. His death was setback to the reconciliation process. He was a strong advocate of peace talks and was killed as attempt was being made to launch direct negotiations with the Taliban. The timing of Akhtar Mansour death remains mystery as officials described him as pragmatic and open to efforts of resolving the conflict through negotiations.
Mansour is alleged to have owned a cell-phone company, among other investments, and is claimed to have been wealthy as a result of his profiting from the dealings of Ishaqzai drug dealers. According to Richard Spencer of The Telegraph, Mansour performed his business operations via a residence located in Dubai.
The following is a list of reported information:
- Born sometime during either 1960, 1963, 1965 or 1968.
- Joined war against Soviet invasion during 1985.
- Joined Maulvi Obaidullah Ishaqzai during 1987.
- Injured during battle during 1987.
- Student at Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa 1994–1995.
- Made director of Ariana airlines during 1996.
- Sometime during 1996 appointed to Minister of Civil Aviation (including both domestic and military flights), Transportation, Tourism.
- Injured during battle May 1997.
- Visited Europe during 1998.
- Listed for sanctioning by the United Nations as of 25 January 2001.
- Known to be involved in activities identified as terrorist within the provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika, Afghanistan as of May 2007.
- Made Governor of Kandahar by the then powers of the Taliban, as of May 2007.
- Attendee of meeting (2007) to organize bombing campaign to kill Ahmad Wali Karzai and Hamid Karzai.
- Appointed to the Quetta Shura sometime during 2007.
- Deputy to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the Taliban Supreme Council as of 2009.
- Temporarily in charge of the Taliban Supreme Council from February 2011.
- Identified as involved within the trafficking of illegal drugs, principally through Gerd-e-Jangal (within Afghanistan); 2011.
- Public statement as leader of Taliban as of 30 July 2015.
- During August and September 2015, the Mullah had sent a request to Mullah Dadullah to leave Zabul, using the Taliban shadow governor for Zabul, and subsequently sent fighters against the non-allegiant Mullah Dadullah.
- Mullah Mohammad Rabbani
- Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid
- Sharia law
- The other sources are: Qazi, Giustozzi;
- Sami Yousafzai. article. published by CBS 10 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-02.
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...and they resent the power now wielded by the Alizai Pashtun tribe to which Mansoor belongs
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- "Google Translate". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
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- Deutsche Welle. "About us". dw.com.
- "Pakistan frees top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar". BBC News. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team. 4th report (S/2014/402) (PDF). United Nations Security Council 10 June 2014. Retrieved 2015-08-05.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)(page 12)
- J. Ahmad; M. Zahra-Malik. article. published March 12, 2015 by Reuters. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
- T. Ruttig – article published 17 March 2015 by the Afghanistan Analysts Network [Retrieved 2015-11-06]
- M. Mashal and T. Shah – article published September 6, 2015 by The New York Times Company [Retrieved 2015-11-05]
- M. Harooni & K. Johnson (including copy of material of letter signed by A.M. Mansour). article. published by Reuters June 16, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-06.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- original source / translated source – published by Well Persian[permanent dead link] of ( Deutsche Welle ) [Retrieved 2015-11-08]
- Reporter of Tribune wire. report. published August 2, 2015 by The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
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- "Why the Taliban murdered their own leader and the terrifying fallout now threatening the West". The Mirror. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
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- AP. News – World:Middle East. SUNDAY 02 AUGUST 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
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- reporter for British Broadcasting Corporation. Al-Qaeda's Zawahiri pledges loyalty to new Taliban chief. BBC. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
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- Bruce Riedel – article published by the Brookings Institution August 20, 2015 [Retrieved 2015-10-31]
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc – term definition [Retrieved 2015-10-31]
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- J. Eggers –  published by RAND Corporation [Retrieved 2015-11-11]
- (reporter)AFP – article, 5 of November 2015 by Mailonline (Daily Mail and General Trust) [Retrieved 2015-11-17]
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The document showed that earlier on Saturday he had crossed into Pakistan from Iran at the Taftan border post, some 450km from where he was killed.
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How and why the United States came to kill a man that some officials believed could bring the Taliban to the negotiating table reveals unresolved questions that have plagued the war
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