Diplomacy FAIL: 'Taliban leader' in peace talks was phony


This one falls in the “laugh so you don’t cry” category. The Afghan government and NATO has been negotiating for months with someone they thought was Taliban second-in-command Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, hoping to find a way to end the nine-year war. But it turns out — whoops! — this supposed militia leader was an imposter. In reality, he was just a shopkeeper from Quetta, Pakistan, who was running a scam. And according to the New York Times, it worked:

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

Positively identifying the members of an ultra-secret, resilient militia is not an easy task, of course. But considering the fact that intelligence failures allowed an al Qaida suicide bomber to infiltrate a CIA outpost in Khost last year and kill 7 employees, the fact that a faker could get a face-to-face meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is embarrassing — and frightening. Just imagine what could have happened if he was a killer instead of a con artist.

But the most damning statement comes from an anonymous U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke to the Washington Post:

One would suspect that in our multibillion-dollar intel community there would be the means to differentiate between an authentic Quetta Shura emissary and a shopkeeper. On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. It may have been Mullah Omar posing as a shopkeeper; I’m sure that our intel whizzes wouldn’t have known.


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  1. I should let NATO know about this Nigerian prince I’ve been communicating with. Though he solicited my strictest confidence, which is by virtue of its nature being utterly confidential and a “top secret,” I am sure and have confidence in NATO’s ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude involving a pending transaction requiring maximum confidence.

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