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Taliban Sends Fake Leader to Peace Talks with Afghan President

Photo Courtesy - Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- That high-ranking Taliban leader attending recent peace talks in Afghanistan was not the high-ranking leader that the U.S. and Afghan officials thought he was.

In fact, no one is sure of the man's real identity, but they are certain it wasn't Mullah Akhtar Muhammed Mansour, a top Taliban commander who operates out of Pakistan and is considered second only to supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

This discovery has greatly embarrassed the Afghan government, which actually paid the person pretending to be Mansour a great deal of money to show up at the negotiations, which also appear to be a bust.

The imposter even got as far as meeting with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, having gained access to the heavily protected presidential palace in Kabul.  It wasn't until the third appearance by the poseur that someone in Kandahar figured out that the man was not Mansour.

While U.S. and Afghan officials now admit to being fooled by the imposter, there was no information on how they actually reached the conclusion that the man wasn't Mansour.

There is speculation that he was likely a Taliban agent sent to gather information for the group's leadership, which is hiding out in Pakistan.  One senior Afghan official lamented, "The Taliban are cleverer than the Americans and our own intelligence service.  They are playing games."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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