The Hit on the Taliban Leader Sent a Signal to Pakistan

Mullah Mansour was Pakistan’s man picked to lead the Afghan Taliban, and he was killed on Pakistani soil. Is this the beginning of a new U.S. strategy?

By Bruce Riedel

The death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in an American drone strike is a significant but not fatal blow to both the Taliban and their Pakistani Army patrons.  

The critical question Afghans and Pakistanis are asking is whether this is a one-off or the beginning of a more aggressive American approach to fighting the war in Afghanistan.

Mullah Mansour became the Taliban’s leader last year after it was revealed his predecessor, Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, had been dead for two years from unknown causes.

Mullah Omar’s death in a Pakistani hospital in Karachi had been covered up for two years by the Pakistani Army’s intelligence service, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI, and the cover-up allowed the ISI to manipulate the Taliban very effectively behind the scene.  Mullah Mansour was the ISI’s handpicked successor.