‘I’m Alive’: Afghan Taliban Issue Message from ‘Terrorist Leader’ + Audio Message

Sun Dec 6, 2015 07:33:07

The Afghan Taliban released an audio message Saturday it said was from leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, vehemently rejecting reports of his death in a firefight with his own commanders as “enemy propaganda,” AFP reported.

The 16-minute file said those “rumors” had been deliberately planted to weaken the Taliban, which has seen a new resurgence under the firebrand supremo despite its internal divisions.

“I have recorded this message to let everyone know that I am alive,” the man purported to be Mansour says in a relaxed drawl.

Multiple reports citing intelligence and insurgent sources had stated that Mansour was wounded or killed on Tuesday in a firefight at an insurgent gathering in Kuchlak.

“I didn't have a fight with anyone, no meeting was held and I have not been to Kuchlak (near Quetta in Pakistan) in years. This is all enemy propaganda,” the message added.

The clip, emailed to media by a Taliban spokesman, comes after days of fevered speculation about the fate of Mansour, who was elected leader just four months ago in a bitter power succession.

The voice in the clip could not be independently verified by AFP while some militant commanders said it appeared to be that of Mansour.

But government spokesman Sultan Faizi, who sparked a flurry of reactions when he tweeted on Friday that Mansour was dead, said it was not certain the audio message was from him.

“We will do our assessment,” he said in a new tweet.

The Taliban, which saw its first formal split last month, had appeared anxious to quell speculation about Mansour’s death as it grapples with simmering divisions inside the movement.

Vehement denials by the Islamist group of any shoot-out had fallen on skeptical ears, especially after they kept the death of longtime chief Mullah Omar secret for two years.

“The Taliban is suffering from a credibility crisis after they admitted to hiding Omar’s death,” Kabul-based military analyst Jawed Kohistani told AFP.


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