US General McChrystal Approved Fake Taliban Leader for Peace Talks

related: British Special Forces dressed as insurgents caught attacking NATO troops. (Here and  here)

Fake leaders for peace talks are the not-so-distant cousin of  faked terror events for war profits.

source: Guardian UK     Nov 27, 2010

Peace talks conducted with an impostor who posed as a Taliban leader, and which led to a meeting with Hamid Karzai in Kabul and thousands of dollars in “goodwill payments”, were started by the Afghan government and approved by the former American commander, Stanley McChrystal, the Guardian has learned.

This account sharply contradicts claims made by the Afghan presidency, which has put the entire blame on Britain, apparently supported privately by US officials.

In fact, the overriding desire to find a negotiated end to the conflict, particularly on the part of David Cameron, appears to have generated credulity on all sides, and led to an embarrassing debacle that has lessened trust and set back hopes of meaningful negotiations in the near future.

Sources close to the contacts said the impostor, who claimed to be Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the Taliban’s deputy leader, was originally introduced by an insurgent commander in Kandahar to the then Afghan interior minister, Hanif Atmar.

This Taliban commander, Muhammad Aminullah, is close to the movement’s overall leader, Mullah Omar, and has led some of the fiercest Taliban fighting in the Zhari and Panjwai districts of Kandahar province. When he was picked up and held in a Nato raid in January this year, the Afghan government complained that he was a longstanding channel of Atmar’s to the Taliban, and asked for him to be freed. In return, Aminullah offered contacts with Mansour, suggesting he might be open to political talks. The deal was approved by McChrystal, then the commander of Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, and a supporter of reconciliation efforts.

McChrystal asked MI6 to develop the contacts, rather than go to the CIA, which was not empowered by the necessary White House directive to enter into direct talks with Taliban officials. The absence of such a “presidential finding” is seen by many diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic as an obstacle to progress towards a political settlement.

At this point, MI6, delighted to have been given the mission, appears to have got carried away with enthusiasm for the “breakthrough”, and brushed aside doubts raised by both US and British officials about “Mansour’s” credibility. “Our friends got very excited,” one official involved in the discussions recalled. “I remember everyone being very pompous and secretive about this.” McChrystal’s successor, Gen David Petraeus, is believed to have had doubts about Mansour’s identity, but ultimately encouraged the contacts and discreetly publicised them.

Last night the head of the US military, Admiral Mike Mullen said the US had suspected the self-described Taliban leader was an imposter. “There were very early initial suspicions. And it took a little while to verify who he was or who he wasn’t. And, in fact, it turns out he wasn’t the guy he was claiming he should be.”

After the coalition took office in May, both Cameron and William Hague were briefed about the talks with Mansour. The prime minister’s eagerness to pursue a negotiated settlement contributed to an echo chamber in which more cautious voices were drowned out.

A series of meetings at a Nato military base in Kandahar culminated in the supposed Taliban leader being flown to Kabul in a British military plane to meet Karzai just over three months ago.

In that meeting, and at some of the preliminary meetings, the impostor (reported by the Washington Post, citing Afghan intelligence, to be a grocer from Quetta), was given tens of thousands of dollars as a reward for attending and as encouragement to develop the dialogue.

It is unclear how much of that money was paid by Britain and how much by Karzai, who keeps his own fund, partially financed by Iran, for such purposes. The US has insisted no American money was used.

It was at the meeting with Karzai that “Mansour’s” identity was definitively challenged, leading to his unmasking earlier this week.

McChrystal, who has retired from the US army, could not be reached for comment and Atmar, who was in London this week, did not reply to emails seeking comment.

Interviewed in today’s Washington Post, Karzai’s chief of staff, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, squarely blamed the British for the fiasco. “This shows that this process should be Afghan-led and fully Afghanised,” Daudzai said. “The last lesson we draw from this: international partners should not get excited so quickly with those kind of things … Afghans know this business, how to handle it.”

Another Afghan official echoed that account, telling the Guardian: “Generally speaking, British intelligence has been the main director and architect of the peace plan; and in this particular case the mediators were British.”

The official also blamed the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, which he said introduced the fraud to MI6. The Guardian, however, could find no confirmation of any role played by the ISI, which is frequently blamed for setbacks by the Kabul government.

British intelligence is conducting an inquiry into the episode, in part to uncover the motive. One theory is that it was an exercise in kite-flying by the Taliban, to discover what Kabul and the British were offering, without risking a senior figure in the movement. Taliban leaders have been wary about attending meetings with would-be mediators, fearing they are on a Nato hit-list, known as the Joint Priority Effects List. A Nato source said: “If you look at it from their point of view, as soon as they turn up for a meeting, they give us an eight-digit map reference of where they are. This, on the other hand, is no risk.”

4 Responses to US General McChrystal Approved Fake Taliban Leader for Peace Talks

  1. Nikhil says:

    I still find it mindbogglingly sutipd that Stanley McChrystal would trust that Rolling Stone reporter. No reporter should be privy to the private conversations that go on between a General and his personal staff. As for Afghanistan, well, let\’s face it, most Americans want out. If anyone noticed, even during the GOP debates the candidates, almost uniformly, took the position that was in essence we need to get out and soon.

  2. Chiranjit says:

    The desertion rate of trpoos trained in the ANA stands at 20% — and is reportedly even higher among forces deployed in combat. Afghan field officers are in short supply, and the top echelon of the officer corps is dominated by ethnic Tajiks who are often viewed with suspicion by Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group and the one in which the Taliban is based. And the recent killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman they had been mentoring, who then ran off to join the Taliban, highlights the risk of infiltration This description of the Afghan army (from later in Tony Karon’s piece) seemingly leads to a counsel of despair. Yet the description is hard to argue against. Why, indeed, should Afghans kill Taliban and Al Qaeda outside of America’s war on terror ? Won’t the terrorists melt away and regroup until they eventually force their way onto the Afghan state?And why should we expect a tribal, pre-industrial people to help us hunt down our enemies? Perhaps if we left the country immediately the Afghans could come to some sort of resolution of their own strife at great cost, to be sure, but would it be any higher than what will be paid if we continue our presence there? Our military adventurism will remain inconclusive and destructive until we can imagine & foster a country called Afghanistan that doesn’t answer to our needs and our national security interests.

    • Manuel says:

      RANDOM OPINION While it did take time, the United States does understand well trbial nations. It would have been expected that the United States sign treaties it would not adhere to and establish small land areas for the tribes to reside within. Instead of arms the US could import alchohol and establish distilleries for the tribes. This worked once. It seems that the US has strengthened their resolve, fueled their determination and quite unexpectedly, gave them the perfect vehicle in which to experience an event for which they would all die for. They have nothing left to lose and the US for all it’s political turmoil and confusion of the issue have nothing more to offer than taxpayer money and more potential dead bodies of men who are not prepared for this type of adversary. Seems those guys over there really understand the Art of War.

  3. … How Biden expects to ensure we’re out of Afghanistan by 2014 “come hell or high water” is beyond me. Is he really delusional enough to think the Democrats, any Democrats, are gonna be in the Whire House in 2014?Further, I see no point in being deferential to a corrupt stooge who was installed simply to grease the skids for a natural resources grab that oilmen have been drooling over since the 80s and who consistently loots our treasury posing as the head of state of a non-entity, like throwing federal funds at the mayor of Nogales.

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