Did you hear about the secret talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban aimed at ending the War in Afghanistan? Well, it turns out the "senior commander" the Afghan government was meeting with... wasn't.

Always encouraging to hear stories about NATO getting scammed by some bro pretending to be a Taliban! According to The New York Times, the high-level peace meetings were promising "if only because of the appearance of... Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement." Mansour showed up at three meetings and accepted a lot of money from NATO and the Afghans. The only thing? That wasn't actually Mansour.

See, most American, NATO and Afghan officials haven't ever seen the senior Taliban leadership. So, really, any old guy could have shown up and put on a "HELLO, my name is AKHTAR" tag and negotiated a peace deal. It wasn't until the third meeting, when a "man who had known Mr. Mansour years ago told Afghan officials that the man at the table did not resemble him," that they realized what was going on. Gosh! No wonder his only demands were "surprisingly moderate"! How embarrassing!

The question remains, though: Who is Con-sour?

  • A Taliban agent. Just because "Mansour" isn't Mansour doesn't mean he's not a representative of the Taliban. "The Taliban are cleverer than the Americans and our own intelligence service," says one Afghan official, encouragingly.
  • A Pakistani intelligence agent. "Mansour" could be someone sent by the Pakistani Intelligence Service ISI to further the "double-game" whereby the ISI aids the Taliban while claiming to help further American interests.
  • The actual Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. One Afghan leader says "it's still possible that it's him," which is such a sweet and hopeful thing to say! But, somehow, doesn't seem likely.
  • Just some guy. This is my favorite choice, as it would further my idea for a darkly comic screenplay based on the episode, in which a laid-off Pakistani-American office worker returns home and realizes he can feed his family by pretending to be a Taliban commander. Hijinks ensue.

[NYT; Image via Shutterstock]