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Karzai aide blames British for Taliban impostor
Reminds me of the time a taxi driver was waiting in the BBC foyer to collect his passenger and the next thing he knows he is being whisked through the building and ended up in a studio on the set of some deep and meaningful current affairs programme being interview about his thoughts on a matter of great importance of the day. He was bemused and confused at what had happened and broke it to them gently that he was a taxi driver.
Quote:Karzai aide blames British for Taliban impostor

[Image: _50160020_000215210-1.jpg] Few if any Afghan or US officials have ever set eyes on Taliban leaders, such as Mullah Omar
Continue reading the main story

President Hamid Karzai's chief of staff has said British authorities brought a fake Taliban commander into sensitive meetings with the Afghan government.
The British embassy refused to confirm or deny the remarks, made in an interview with the Washington Post.
A man described as Mullah Mansour, a senior Taliban commander, was flown to Kabul for a meeting with President Karzai.
Now it is claimed he was really a Pakistani shopkeeper.
The impersonator reportedly met officials three times and was even flown on a Nato aircraft to Kabul.
Mystery man But doubts arose after an Afghan who knew Mullah Mansour said he did not recognise the man.
The faker then vanished, but not before he had reportedly been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr Karzai's chief of staff, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, told the Washington Post that British diplomats had brought the impostor to meet Mr Karzai in July or August.
Continue reading the main story Analysis

Paul Wood BBC News, Kabul
Given the British policy of not commenting on "operational matters", all we have is the Afghan government's version of events, as given to the Washington Post.
That version smells of people trying to pass the blame. There may be enough blame to share around: the CIA, MI6 and the Afghans themselves.
Why, for instance, did Afghan officials not spot this man earlier? Mullah Mansour was civil aviation minister during Taliban rule.
The question remains: who is this man who met President Hamid Karzai? A Pakistani shopkeeper, a gifted conman or a junior member of the Taliban (or all three)?
If there was British involvement, did they simply fly the impostor to Kabul? Did they take Mullah Mansour off Nato's capture-and-kill list? Or was the impersonator actively sought out and promoted by the British?
Given that we're dealing with the murky world of spying and intelligence it may be a long time before we get answers to those questions.

"The last lesson we draw from this: international partners should not get excited so quickly with those kind of things," Mr Daudzai told the newspaper.
He added: "Afghans know this business, how to handle it. We handle it with care, we handle it with a result-based approach, with very less damage to all the other processes."
The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says if there was indeed British involvement, the question is whether this was logistical support or something more active.
He says full negotiations to end this conflict still seem a long way off - and the case of the Taliban impostor will not have helped matters.
Unnamed senior US officials told the Washington Post that the Mansour impersonator was "the Brits' guy".
They said the Americans had "healthy scepticism" from the start because their intelligence had suggested Mullah Mansour would be a few inches taller than the man claiming to be the Taliban commander.
The UK's Times newspaper reports that the impostor was promoted by British overseas intelligence agency MI6, which was convinced it had achieved a major breakthrough.
The real identity of the faker remains a mystery.
Some reports suggest he was a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.
It is still not clear whether he had any links to the Taliban or if he was simply a conman.
Another theory is he could have been a Pakistani intelligence agent.
Western diplomats have previously conceded that some of those claiming to represent the Taliban have turned out to be frauds.
The real Mr Mansour was civil aviation minister during Taliban rule and is now said to be in charge of weapons procurement for the insurgents.
The Afghan government's meetings with the Taliban - fake or otherwise - have been described as contacts rather than negotiations.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
More feverish spin.

Can't have the veracity of British intelligence challenged, old chap, can we?

Quote:US general McChrystal approved peace talks with fake Taliban leader

• American Nato commander asked MI6 to develop contacts
• News contradicts Hamid Karzai's attempt to put blame on UK

Julian Borger in London and Jon Boone in Kabul, Friday 26 November 2010 18.06 GMT

Peace talks with an impostor posing as a Taliban leader, 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 the British government, 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 which has diminished 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.

The Taliban commander was Mohammad Aminullah, who 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 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 called for him to be freed. In return, Aminullah offered contacts with Mansour, suggesting he might be open to political talks. The agreement 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 going 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.

It is at this point that 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, General David Petraeus, is believed to have harboured doubts about Mansour's identity, but ultimately encouraged the contacts and discreetly publicised them.

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 between "Mansour", Atmar and British officials 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 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."
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

Quote:Taliban impostor — consequences and rebuttals

By Ali K Chishti

While different versions of the identity of the so-called ‘Taliban impostor’ are being discussed, Daily Times can confirm that some sections of the US military in Afghanistan knew about the real identity of the Taliban impostor from the start, but deliberately kept quiet. The idea was to ‘wait and watch’, while the real agenda was to prolong and sabotage the 2014 withdrawal date announced by US President Obama and recently decided in Lisbon at the NATO conference.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

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