It takes some pretty big balls to impersonate a ranking member of the Taliban in peace talks. And one Pakistani shop keeper seems to have balls just that big. Apparently he spent months impersonating the #2 Taliban commander, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. He met with Afghanistan officials in an effort to end the war in that country, was flown around in NATO planes and even went to the presidential palace and met with President Hamid Karzai.
“It’s not him,” a Western diplomat in Kabul told the New York Times. “And we gave him a lot of money.”
The New York Times spins a couple of ideas about who this guy could have been - maybe he was a Taliban guy and the Taliban were just fucking with everybody, or maybe he was a Pakistani secret agent throwing a wrench in it all. The Washington Post has sources claiming he was a shopkeeper, which is the version that is most likely to get itself a Hollywood adaptation.
On the one hand it’s truly tragic that negotiations to end the terrible war in Afghanistan have failed because of this. On the other hand - holy shit, what a weird story.