Fake Taliban leader ‘dupes Nato negotiators’

Impostor claiming to be Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour has tricked Afghan and Nato officials

Musadeq Sadeq/AP

Jon Boone

The Afghan government and its Nato allies were duped into holding peace talks with a man posing as one of the most senior members of the Taliban leadership, it was revealed today.

According to Afghan and US sources quoted by the New York Times, authorities held face-to-face talks with the man who claimed to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the second highest official in the Taliban movement.

Western sources quoted by the New York Times also confirmed a Guardian report that the man was paid a large sum of money in the hope that he would remain engaged in negotiations.

But foreign and Afghan sources believe the man was lying about his identity after an Afghan official involved in one of the clandestine talks – who had previously met the Taliban chief – said he did not recognise the man posing as Mansour.

The revelation is a potential humiliation for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president who has increasingly put his hopes in a peace deal with insurgents.

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