KABUL—The Taliban promised on Friday to launch an audio concept from their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour to confirm he is even now alive, days following Afghan officers explained he may possibly have been mortally wounded in a gunfight.
The Taliban has appeared nervous to deal with the rumors of Mullah Mansour’s loss of life, but the movement’s leaders have acknowledged it was having a long time to arrive up with proof he was even now alive.
“We have despatched a particular person to get the concept. It is time-consuming but we are making an attempt to get out before long,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated in a text information.
The evidence-of-lifestyle guarantee appeared to be an endeavor to maintain together an insurgent team that has splintered underneath Mullah Mansour’s view, and has threatened, with his attainable dying, to fragment further. The Taliban is combating factions that have broken away because his appointment and emergent Islamic State for recruits, resources and territory in a multisided wrestle that could determine the condition of the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Mullah Mansour has also experimented with to steer the Taliban toward peace talks with the authorities, regardless of a lot of Taliban leaders resisting any reconciliation.
With the uncertainty in excess of Mullah Mansour’s destiny, the Taliban is jeopardizing an additional damaging blow to its reliability. It emerged in July their founder and meant leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been useless for two many years. Afterward, Mullah Mansour, his deputy, was unveiled to have been secretly in cost, even releasing statements in his identify to dispel increasing suspicion amid the ranks of Taliban subject commanders.
Now it is Mullah Mansour who is the subject matter of these kinds of speculation. The conflicting accounts of his dying level to disarray that has permeated the motion because he took handle.
In some accounts, Mullah Mansour was shot by 1 of his personal males after a enormous firefight erupted in the course of a assembly of senior Taliban leaders. In other people, he was assassinated by customers of a rival faction allied to Islamic State, in an act of vengeance for a fallen commander.
“His dying [if real] will additional intensify their interior rivalries,” Afghan protection ministry spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri said. “They have previously divided into two groups and this will be an additional massive blow to their movement.”
But other people mentioned that one particular of his deputies might be completely ready to consider his area and guidebook a smooth changeover. They consist of Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, a team specified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the Taliban’s spiritual main, Mullah Haibatullah.
Mullah Mansour’s dying could also empower a former Guantanamo detainee and tough-liner, Mullah Qayum Zakir, who is believed to have clashed with him above talks with the Afghan authorities.
“I do not consider that his death will massively impact the Taliban or the preventing on the floor,” explained former shut good friend and former member of the Taliban authorities, Sayed Mohammad Akbar. “They have no shortage of knowledgeable leaders.”
Because Mullah Mansour became the public encounter of the Taliban, divergent photos of his character have emerged—both of a peacemaker and a warmonger.
Mullah Mansour despatched a delegation for talks with the Afghan authorities earlier this 12 months, ahead of the nascent peace method was derailed by the announcement of Mullah Omar’s loss of life. But he also renewed phone calls for war given that taking above, top the Taliban to rating their finest military victory in much more than fourteen many years when they briefly seized their initial provincial capital in September.
Afghan officers say he is simply serving the pursuits of the Taliban’s main patron, Pakistan, a region they blame for funding a covert war in Afghanistan and retaining handle in excess of the militant group.
“The Taliban movement is on the brink of collapse,” a senior Afghan protection formal explained. “It is the Pakistani spy company ISI which is keeping them with each other.”
Write to Jessica Donati at Jessica.Donati@wsj.com
and Habib Khan Totakhil at Habib.Totakhil@wsj.com