The death of the leader of the Afghan Taliban in a U.S. drone strike last week could make the insurgent movement stronger by bringing back dissident commanders and unifying the movement’s ranks, a senior Afghan Taliban figure said on Tuesday.
Mullah Mohammad Ghous, a foreign minister during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, told The Associated Press that Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death cleared the way for those who left after he became leader to return to the insurgency.
Mansour was killed on Saturday in the strike in southwestern Pakistan, just over the border from Afghanistan.
His death has been confirmed by some senior Taliban members, as well as Washington and Kabul. The Taliban has yet to formally announce his death.
Mansour had led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of founder Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. Mansour ran the movement in Mullah Omar’s name for more than two years. The revelation of Mullah Omar’s death and Mansour’s deception led to widespread mistrust, with some senior leaders leaving to set up their own factions.