Leader caused rift among in­sur­gents

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

The death of the leader of the Afghan Tal­iban in a US drone strike last week could make the in­sur­gent move­ment stronger by bring­ing back dis­si­dent com­man­ders and uni­fy­ing the move­ment’s ranks, a se­nior Afghan Tal­iban fig­ure has said.

Mul­lah Mo­ham­mad Ghous, a for­eign min­is­ter dur­ing the Tal­iban’s 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Mul­lah Akhtar Man­sour’s death cleared the way for those who left af­ter he be­came leader to re­turn to the in­sur­gency.

Man­sour was killed on Satur­day in the strike in south­west­ern Pak­istan, just over the bor­der from Afghanistan. The US has de­scribed him as an “ob­sta­cle to peace”.

Man­sour’s death has been con­firmed by some se­nior Tal­iban mem­bers, as well as Wash­ing­ton and Kabul. The Tal­iban has yet to for­mally an­nounce his death.

Man­sour had led the Tal­iban since last sum­mer, when the death of founder Mul­lah Mo­ham­mad Omar be­came pub­lic. Man­sour ran the move­ment in Mul­lah Omar’s name for more than two years. The rev­e­la­tion of Mul­lah Omar’s death and Man­sour’s de­cep­tion led to wide­spread mis­trust, with some se­nior lead­ers leav­ing to set up their own fac­tions. Some of th­ese ri­vals fought Man­sour’s men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-grow­ing south­ern Tal­iban heart­land.

Ghous said a fac­tion loyal to the leader of a ma­jor break­away fac­tion, Mul­lah Mo­ham­mad Ra­sool could re­join the main branch “bring­ing greater strength”.

“Once the death of Mul­lah Akhtar Man­sour is con­firmed, Mul­lah Ra­sool’s group will have no ex­cuse,” he said.

Man­sour is widely said to have been a ma­jor player in Afghanistan’s multi-bil­lion-dol­lar drug pro­duc­tion and smug­gling business, which along with other con­tra­band helps fund the in­sur­gency.

An­other re­spected vet­eran in the in­sur­gency, re­li­gious scholar Mul­lah Hameedul­lah, agreed that Man­sour’s death re­moved an ob­sta­cle to unity.

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