For two years, Mullah Mansour tried to hide the fact that the supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, had died. And in those years, Mansour managed to keep the deadly Afghan insurgency going, even growing. But whatever satisfaction he might have taken from that feat did not last long. He had run the Taliban officially for only about 10 months when American drones blew him up in Pakistan last week near the Afghan border.

Whether that will make peace in Afghanistan easier to achieve, or more difficult, remains at this point an open queston.

I remember I first met Mullah Mansour in 1995, when the Taliban were just being created. He got in touch because he wanted me to cover his enlistment, along with his friends, in the fledgling Afghan organization.

The next day at a busy Peshawar bus station, I saw Mansour, wearing big sun glasses and a typical black Afghan turban, giving a short speech saying he and his group had finished their religious studies (taliban, you will recall, means students). They were on their way, he said, to join Mullah Omar in his drive to kick out the evil warlords tearing Afghanistan apart and to establish an Afghan government based on Sharia, Islamic law.

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