ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban released on Monday a rare video showing a gathering of their members pledging allegiance to new chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor amid differences over his election as some Taliban cadres and Mullah Omar’s family have refused to submit to his leadership.
Mullah Mansoor was chosen to replace Mullah Omar days after the death of the Taliban creator was officially confirmed by the Afghan Taliban on July 30. Traditionally, the Afghan Taliban do not release videos of their gatherings or leaders and Monday’s video could be an attempt to dispel the impression of an internal rift. The video was released a few days after the Taliban issued a 33-minute audio speech of Mullah Mansoor to a meeting that had elected him last week.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has also joined the dissident Afghan Taliban in rejecting Mullah Mansoor’s election with a commander saying they were not consulted on the matter.
The Taliban’s information section sent the video and some photographs to The Express Tribune purportedly showing a meeting somewhere in Afghanistan where participants declared allegiance to the new Taliban supremo.
Mullah Mansoor is not clearly identifiable in the video, but some Taliban members and Islamic scholars are shown swearing allegiance to him. Dozens of Taliban, wearing white turbans and caps, are lined up to shake and kiss hands of their new leader. The meeting was held apparently inside an Islamic seminary, though the Taliban did not identify the place.
The voiceover in the video is inaudible. The caption reads ‘one part of the ceremony of the allegiance to the new chief’. Some Taliban can be heard saying ‘Allah has willed it’, others say ‘be careful’ as Taliban delegates approach to swear allegiance to Mullah Mansoor.
TTP opposes new chief
The Pakistani Taliban on Monday expressed disappointment over the election of Mullah Mansoor as the new Afghan Taliban chief. “The way he has been elected is unacceptable to us. We were not consulted,” a TTP leader said requesting not to be identified.
When pointed out the Afghan Taliban have never owned the TTP, the leader said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2015.