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Dead Afghan Taliban chief’s Karachi properties up for auction

SAMAA | - Posted: Feb 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Feb 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Dead Afghan Taliban chief’s Karachi properties up for auction

A combination of photos from the several fictitious identity cards Mullah Mansoor had acquired. These images are part of the FIA charge sheet dated 09.01.2020 submitted to the terrorism court.

Assets worth Rs100 million, including a life insurance policy, purportedly belonging to the man who headed the Afghan Taliban, will go under the hammer by order of a special court in Karachi.

An anti-terrorism court has advertised the auction of six properties owned by former Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan in 2016. They are: A plot in Gulshan-e-Maymar, a house in Gulshan-e-Maymar, a flat in Sanober Heights, Gulshan-e-Maymar, a flat in Ammar Tower, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, a flat in Bismillah Terrace, Gulzar-e-Hijri, a flat in Samya Tower, Shaheed-e-Millat Road.

The order comes in a case of terror financing against Mansoor and two close associates, who, according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), served as his frontmen in Karachi. The case, which was pending as an inquiry since his death, found second wind last year as Pakistan faces pressure from the Financial Action Task Force to crack down on such funding and money laundering.

The properties, established by the FIA investigation to be owned by Mullah Mansoor through fictitious identities as well as two frontmen, are located in two different areas and were purchased as investments.

The inquiry was opened after a Pakistani identity card and passport, in the name of Muhammad Wali, were discovered at the site of the drone strike at the time of Mansoor’s killing. It led to the suspension of at least two low-ranking officials involved in issuing the credentials, according to the then-interior minister Chaudhry Nisar.

Subsequent investigations uncovered another fictitious identity, Gul Muhammad, also used by the Taliban chief for real estate and banking transactions.

The photographs on the identity cards as well as undated photos of the Taliban commander show a man with a full beard, receding hairline, prominent lines on the forehead and the prayer bump or zabibah. The photos differ only in the subject’s headgear: an Afghan turban, Pushtun cap and skullcap.

Despite his high profile, it was easy for Mansoor to operate undetected in the vast and populous Karachi.

He was able to acquire at least half a dozen properties within a year. According to the FIA, four properties have been identified as being bought with two fictitious identities of Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Wali. These two identities have listed the same woman as spouse, Hafsa Begum, believed to be the name of Mansoor’s wife.

Mansoor met real estate agents several times and even visited the properties before buying them. One of the real estate agents he dealt with confirmed that he met a man who called himself Muhammad Wali on several occasions, visited properties with him, and even sold his apartment to him. He was perceived as a family man trying to secure a future for his four children, though those the authorities spoke to said they never met the family, said one official privy to the investigation.

The real estate agent confirmed that ‘Wali Muhammad’ was accompanied by two other men, who also conducted business on his behalf.

Authorities say these two men, identified as Ammar Yasir and Akhtar Muhammad, bought two other properties linked to assets acquired by Mansoor. Officials say both men are senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban, who acted as front men for Mansoor in Karachi, adding that they fled to Afghanistan with Mansoor’s wife and children soon after his killing.

An official, while requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media, claimed that the same Ammar Yasir (Amar Yaser) has also been part of the Afghan Taliban’s delegation that is holding talks with the US and Afghan governments. His father, said the official, was a senior member of the original Afghan Taliban shura at the time of Mullah Omar.

The properties were not the only vehicle for investment used by Mullah Mansoor, who lived near Tariq Road and invested on the city’s outskirts.

The advertisement placed in Dawn on Feb 14, 2020. Taken from the epaper edition. https://epaper.dawn.com/?page=14_02_2020_007

During the investigations, the FIA found that the former Afghan Taliban chief had invested in a life insurance policy, for which he had already made payments of Rs333,000. The policy was in the name of his fictitious identity, Gul Muhammad. The beneficiary, yet again, was listed as Hafsa Begum.

The FIA found that Mansoor was operating three bank accounts, with a total of around Rs3 million in them at the time of his death. The account was opened by impersonating a real estate agent.

The charge-sheet submitted in court by the counter-terrorism wing contests the claim that Mansoor was investing in the property as he wanted to ostensibly settle in Karachi with his family. The investigation report, prepared by Assistant Director Rehmatullah Domki, contends that Mansoor was attempting to establish his headquarters in Karachi, and wanted to use the properties as safe-houses to accommodate recruits.

Mansoor hailed from a small village in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar. He fought against the Russians and was one of the Taliban commanders when it swept to power. Mansoor started with minor or insignificant commissions – including aviation and tourism minister – when the Taliban ruled the region prior to the US invasion in 2001.

After that, he relocated to Quetta. The arrests of the movement’s acting head, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, in 2007, and then of his replacement, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in 2010, resulted in Mansoor’s elevation to the command. He was second only to the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar.

After reports leaked in 2015 that Mullah Omar had been dead for two years, Mansour was able to consolidate power and overcome rival claimants, including Omar’s son.

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