Taliban Chief at Peace Talks Was Impostor

Fake leader paid handsomely for taking part in talks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2010 1:20 AM CST
Updated Nov 23, 2010 6:00 AM CST
The phony mullah was flown in from Pakistan to attend several meetings with Karzai and other leaders.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

(Newser) – A "Taliban leader" heavily involved in peace talks in Afghanistan was an impostor, according to US and Afghan officials. The man, who pretended to be high-ranking Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, was flown to several meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and was given a sizable sum of cash for his participation in the talks. "It’s not him,” a Western diplomat in Kabul involved in the discussions tells the New York Times. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

Officials say the man—whose presence at the talks was arranged by an Afghan middle man, made surprisingly reasonable demands on behalf of the Taliban—raising hopes that a peace deal was possible. The man's identity remains a mystery. Some officials believe he was an agent sent by the Taliban, some believe he was an agent of Pakistan's security services, and at least one Afghan official believes he was sent by the real Mullah Mansour, and may return for another round of talks.

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