How the U.S. Tracked and Killed the Leader of the Taliban
Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed while driving through an area of Pakistan that is normally off limits to U.S. dronesBy Adam Entous and Jessica Donati, WSJ
Updated May 24, 2016 4:45 p.m. ET
U.S. spy agencies zeroed in on Mullah Akhtar Mansour while he was visiting his family in Iran, then waited for the Taliban leader to move back across the border into Pakistan. That is where the Americans planned to ambush him.
Intercepted communications and other types of intelligence—amounting to Mullah Mansour’s electronic signature—allowed the spy agencies to track their target as he crossed the frontier on Saturday, got into a Toyota Corolla and made his way by road through Pakistan’s Balochistan province on his way to the Pakistani city of Quetta.
The intelligence operation then shifted over to the U.S. military, which waited for the right moment to send armed drones across the Afghan border to “fix” on the car, make sure no other vehicles were in the way and “finish” the target, in the argot of drone killing, all before Mullah Mansour could reach crowded Quetta, where a strike would have been far more complicated.