Black turbans are back again in the places of power in Afghanistan after the exit of international forces after 20 years. Today’s Taliban forces responds to Haibatullah Akhundzada, has the face of mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and a leadership of ‘heirs’ of Mullah Omar, founder of the movement that dominated the country from 1996 to 2001, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, ‘father’ of the infamous Haqqani network.
He was appointed leader of the Taliban (‘Ameer-ul-momineen’, the ‘commander of the faithful’), in May 2016 after the killing of his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in a US drone raid in Pakistan. He was at the top of the movement in 2015 following the death of Mullah Omar which was confirmed two years after his death. Respected as an expert on religious issues rather than as a military commander, Akhunzada had been the head of Taliban ‘justice’ at the time of the regime (1996-2001) and today is expected to be 60 years old. Shortly after his appointment, al-Qaeda swore allegiance to him. For the movement’s hierarchy, he has the last word on political, military and religious issues.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Alias Baradar Akhund, is Akhundzada’s deputy ‘political’. He fought against the Soviets and from a madrasa that he would have created in Kandahar with Mullah Omar he would later come to help found the Taliban movement. He would have been one of Mullah Omar’s most trusted commanders. He was his deputy and also his brother-in-law. Born in the province of Uruzgan in 1968, he was Deputy Minister of Defense at the time of the fall of the Taliban regime. He was arrested in 2010 by the Pakistani authorities in Karachi. In the following years there were many rumors about him. In 2018, the Afghan Taliban announced his release after the US request to restart peace talks between the movement and the Kabul government. The following year he was appointed head of the Taliban political office in Doha, Qatar. In 2020, he participated in the signing of the Doha agreement with the US. At the end of last July, he met the foreign minister of China Wang Yi, in Tianjin. In a video released in the past few hours, Mullah Baradar (which literally means ‘brother’) promised “services to our country” and “serenity to the whole nation”.
The eldest son of Mullah Omar, deputy of the Taliban, he heads the powerful “military commission”. In past years he has made headlines when he initially refused to swear allegiance to Mullah Akhtar Mansour who was later killed in an US drone strike .
Another deputy of the Taliban, he is the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani (one of the protagonists of the anti-Soviet resistance, who died three years ago) and head of the Haqqani network believed to be linked to al-Qaeda and responsible in the past for bloody attacks in Afghanistan. He was among the ‘eligible candidates’ for the succession to Mullah Akhtar Mansour.