Tom Collins has it right (I raise my glass to you, Colonel): this is not a personality-driven movement. While this is a victory, there will just be another one who will come along and take Osmani’s place.
By Jason Straziuso for Associated Press, with thanks to all who sent this in:
KABUL, Afghanistan – A top Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar was killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, the U.S. military said Saturday. A Taliban spokesman denied the claim.
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said. Two associates also were killed, it said.
There was no immediate confirmation from Afghan officials or visual proof offered to support the claim. A U.S. spokesman said “various sources” were used to confirm Osmani’s identity.
Osmani, regarded as one of three top associates of Omar, is the highest-ranking Taliban leader the coalition has claimed to have killed or captured since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in late 2001 for hosting bin Laden.
U.S. military spokesman Col. Tom Collins described Osmani’s death as a “big loss” for the ultraconservative militia.
“There’s no doubt that it will have an immediate impact on their ability to conduct attacks,” Collins said. “But the Taliban is fairly adaptive. They’ll put somebody else in that position and we’ll go after that person, too.”