by S. Ghilzai / January 28, 2016
Notation by: Abdullah Qazi
Spelling variations of name: Mansur, Mansour, Mansoor
Mullah1 Akhtar Mohammad Mansur is the current leader (or “Emir”) of the Taliban insurgent group, replacing Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Mullah Mansur is believed to have been born sometime between the mid-1960’s and late 1960’s (different sources state 1965, but the Taliban’s website indicates 1968), in Band e Taimor, in Kandahar province (while some sources cite that he was born somewhere in Jowzjan province).
Mullah Mansur supposedly participated in the fight against the Soviet occupation, meeting Mullah Omar in the process. After the Soviets left, Mansur continued his religious studies in the same madrassa Mullah Omar attended – Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. During the mid-nineties, once the Taliban had captured and secured the Kandahar airport, Mullah Omar appointed him the director of the airport, whose responsibilities would also entail overseeing the air force and defense systems of Kandahar. Once the Taliban had taken over Kabul, in 1996, Mansur was appointed director of Ariana airlines, as well as Minister of Aviation and Tourism. Tourism would really only encompass Afghans traveling to Mecca for Hajj. In 1997, during an unsuccessful take over by the Taliban of Mazar-i-Sharif, Mansur was captured by Uzbek forces and was held prisoner for a few months until Mullah Omar made an exchange for his release.
After the U.S.-led invasion, Mansur “surrendered” to then President, Hamid Karzai and asked for amnesty. The president forgave him but U.S forces always maintained a close watch on him, suspecting him to still be working with the Taliban. It is suggested that Mansur played a part in the assassination of Hamid Karzai’s brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was then the Chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council. After Mullah Omar’s death, formally published in 2015, Mansur was elected as the new Supreme Leader of the Taliban in July 2015. Rumors are rampant within that Mansur himself killed Mullah Omar to take his place as the leader, which is one of the main reasons for recent dividing of Taliban groups. The splinter group that Mullah Rasul leads believes Mansur was the cause of Mullah Omar’s death. Not much is known about Mullah Mansur’s personal life, except for that he has residencies in Quetta and Karachi – which makes many wonder if he is in close contact and works with Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).
Editor’s Note: In certain Islamic countries like Afghanistan, the word “Mullah” is a title that is typically given to a Muslim scholar or someone who is an expert in Islamic law and theology. All of the Taliban leaders, including both the top and lower tiers, are referred to as Mullahs. No independent confirmation has been made if they are truly Islamic scholars or have attended any commonly recognized Islamic Universities; it’s just a title that they have assigned themselves, and every one else has gone along with it. — Abdullah Qazi
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