Taliban officials have said that they will soon release an audio recording of their leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour in order to prove that he is still alive. The recent announcement came amid rumors that the Taliban leader had been critically wounded or killed.
The chief spokesperson of the terrorist organization Zabihullah Mujahid denied reports that Mansour was shot during a gunfight. The alleged conflict took place between rival terrorist groups during peace talks that went wrong.
The Taliban has a poor track record for being honest when it comes to such news. It took the terrorist group two years before they would truthfully admit that their former leader Mullah Muhammad Omar had been killed. Despite the assurances that Mansour is alive, it’s a very possibility that he is actually dead, or at least critically injured.
Meanwhile, several Twitter accounts have been spreading the news. Nevertheless, members of the Taliban have insisted that their leader is still alive and well. In fact, they have said that he wasn’t even in the area at the time the conflict arose.
Mujahid said about Mansour on Friday, “We have already put efforts into sending our men to get a voice recording of the emir himself in order to avoid the growing confusion and assure the people about his well-being.”
According to an anonymous government official of Afghanistan and two anonymous Taliban commanders, Mansour was shot on Tuesday while he was in the home of the chief judicial official of the Taliban Qazi Haybatullah. The home is located in Pakistan, in a suburb in the border city of Quetta. Many Afghan Taliban leaders openly live in this area.
Reports indicate the Haybatullah organized a meeting between Mansour and rival leader Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi. While the meeting was supposed to discuss possibilities of achieving peace, violence quickly broke out. In the shooting, Sadhadi was reportedly killed, and Mansour was either wounded or killed.
Intelligence officials in Pakistan have said that the reports are credible, and a prominent official of the Haqqani Network said that Mansour was wounded and was being treated in Quetta. The official said that he did not know how serious the injuries were.
Many officials have said that they don’t believe the rumors. This includes the police chief of Kandahar, Afghanistan, General Abdul Raziq.
Raziq said, “Nothing has happened to Mansour and nothing has happened security-wise in his safe place.”
Taliban spokesperson Mujahid added that the reports are merely propaganda from their enemies, created for the sole purpose of stirring up confusion. Mujahid has said that the group normally wouldn’t go through the trouble of recording their leader, but the group feels as though it is very important in this particular case.
Mujahid said, “Since the emir is located in a distant area, we have to be very careful to ensure his safety, and that's why it is taking time to reach out to him. Nonetheless, we are trying to get his voice and will be releasing it as soon as we can."
Earlier this year in July, the Taliban finally announced that they had lost their former leader of Omar, who hadn’t been seen in at least two years. Mujahid and other officials of the Taliban had continuously denied those rumors.