Taliban sources tell Al Jazeera that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is new leader of the group, confirming death of Mullah Omar.
The Taliban Supreme Council (Shura Council) was not consulted before the appointment of the new leader Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansoor, a move that could impact on the peace talks with the Afghan government, Al Jazeera has learned.
We have to appoint someone who has a proper knowledge and hold on Sharia and our Afghan values. Mullah Akhtar Mansoor did not even contribute much to our movement
Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, a senior member of the Supreme Council, told Al Jazeera on Friday that Mullah Mansoor was appointed after a brief discussion with four to five senior Taliban commanders without consulting the Supreme Council members.
“This decision was taken without our consent. Our Mujahideen have sacrificed their blood for two decades. We have to appoint someone who has a proper knowledge and hold on Sharia and our Afghan values. Mullah Akhtar Mansoor did not even contribute much to our movement,” Mullah Niazi said.
Mullah Mansoor was appointed as the new leader of the Taliban on Thursday following the death of Mullah Omar, widely known as the founder of the Taliban. Afghan authorities said on Wednesday that Omar had been dead since 2013.
The announcement has sparked much speculation over the future of the Taliban and the impact it would have on the upcoming peace talks. The second of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have already been postponed.
However, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a member of Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name the group refers to itself, released a statement today denying claims of disagreements and conflict on the decision.
“I have heard that Mullah Muhammad Hassan Rahmani, Mullah Abdul Razzaq, Mullah Muhammad Rasul and other individuals have claimed in radios and some gatherings that Mullah Abdul Qayyum is in conflict with Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor Sahib,” Zakir said in a statement published on the group’s official website.
“These claims are absolutely baseless. I reassure you all that I will exert my complete efforts in working for the Islamic Emirate and hope from Allah that I will be one of the most obedient individuals from it.”
Niazi, who belongs to the Quetta Shura, claims that the “rivals” that also includes Zakir are working on replacing the existing Council members. The armed group has been based in Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan since 2001, when US forces ousted them from power.
Sami Yousafzai, a journalist covering politics in the region, also said that Supreme Council did not have a major role in the decision making process of the group from the start.
“Now that they heard of Mullah Omar’s death, they are vocally expressing their disagreement. The Taliban on the ground did not consult the Council members over several issues in the past as well,” Yousfzai told Al Jazeera.
No one in the Taliban opposes all talks. The differences may well have more to do with power and control over finances than policy or ideology
“This disagreement will affect the peace talks now because of the discord between the Taliban on the ground and the Shura Council members. The peace talks too are negotiable and it’s impossible to happen if the Taliban commanders on the ground are not a part of it.”
Mullah Zakir, a former chief military commander of the Taliban, has previously supported Mullah Yaqoub, the son of Mullah Omar, for the post.
Mullah Yaqoub and Mullah Mansoor have been long rivals for control of the group.
“No one in the Taliban opposes all talks. The differences may well have more to do with power and control over finances than policy or ideology,” said Barnett Rubin, a former senior State Department official.
“It seems unlikely that many fighters would abandon the Taliban for the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) whose religious and political views are anathema to Afghans.
“Afghans, who resent claims by Arabs to be their elder brothers in Islam, will not easily swear allegiance to an Iraqi Emir,” Rubin said.
The new leader Mansoor belongs to the Kandahar province, a former stronghold of the Taliban movement.
Sources say Mansoor is about 50 years old and has studied at a madrassa in a village called the Jalozai in the Nowshera district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.
Mullah Mansoor fought against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan for a short period of time and was a part of Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami, a former paramilitary group formed by Maulana Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi to fight against Soviet troops.