Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said that former leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour had travelled frequently to the Middle East from Pakistan over the past decade to raise funds for an insurgency against US-led forces
He further added that the slain leader used to hold meetings with Afghan businessmen and Islamic nations in the UAE to discuss Afghan holy war and raise funds for Taliban operations in Western-occupied Afghanistan. Apart from that, Mansour is also reported to have visited Iran on unofficial trips.Iranian border police didn’t recognise Mansour because he was carrying a passport under a different name.
These claims help explain how the Taliban have managed to maintain a credible fighting force after the US spent almost $700 billion and lost more than 2,200 troops since it invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
As per recent statements of Afghan security officials, Mansour used the alias Wali Mohammad to travel mainly from Karachi’s international airport using a Pakistani passport over the past nine years. He went to Dubai 18 times and Bahrain once.
According to Bloomberg, prior to taking over as the Taliban’s leader, Mansour was a prominent drug trafficker and was responsible for the Taliban’s finances. The Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan says that the Taliban primarily fund their insurgency through illegal mining of Afghan minerals, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and foreign donations, according to the Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan.
In experts’ opinion, Pakistan has long been accused of harbouring the Taliban’s top leadership. They opine that Pakistan sees the group, which is predominately Pashtun and based in southern Afghanistan, as a counterbalance to ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks who are more aligned with India.
Former Foreign Ministry official in the Taliban regime Waheed Muzhda says that “it a major blow to Pakistan and possibly also Iran, which may have forged links with the Taliban to undercut US interests in the region.” “Iran has always opposed the US presence in Afghanistan,” Muzhda says. “Iran may also have been behind the curtain to stab the US in the back using Taliban militants.”