Taliban leadership explained: who are they?

The Taliban officially declared an interim government on Tuesday, appointing interim ministers who were largely loyalists from the group...


The Taliban officially declared an interim government on Tuesday, appointing interim ministers who were largely loyalists from the group’s early years of rule in the 1990s.

The list of ministers was the clearest indication to date that the group sees power as something to be shared exclusively among the victors, rather than fulfilling their promise of inclusive government which took into account the reality of a transformed Afghanistan where women and ethnic minorities were represented in decision-making.

Although many senior officials in the new government have held similar roles within the Taliban for years, relatively little is known about them. Here are details on some of them, based on New York Times reports.

Credit…Saeed Khan / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Considered one of the founding members of the Taliban in the 1990s, Mullah Hassan will assume the role of Prime Minister who will deal with the daily government.

He was a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Taliban government that took control in the 1990s. During the two decades of insurgency after the fall of the Taliban, he remained low-key and in the shadows , helping coordinate and lead the Taliban leadership council in Quetta, Pakistan.

Credit…Karim Jaafar / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Mr. Baradar, who according to Interpol was born in Uruzgan province in 1968, served with Mullah Muhammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban, in the fight against the Soviet occupation. He held leadership positions in the first Taliban government, starting in 1996, and gained a reputation as one of the most brutal commanders on the battlefield as the Taliban sought to quell their opponents among the northern resistance. He served as Deputy Minister of Defense in 2001 and, like other leaders, fled to Pakistan.

When the Taliban reformed into an insurgency, Mr. Baradar was Mullah Omar’s senior deputy and led the movement’s military operations. He oversaw a sharp escalation of the insurgency in 2006, but was also engaged in secret consultations with envoys of President Hamid Karzai and international aid organizations.

He was arrested in a joint US-Pakistani raid in 2010, which Pakistani officials later said had was to end his dialogue with the Karzai government. However, due to his respect within the Taliban and his openness to dialogue, the United States urged Pakistan to release him so that he could help lead the talks which started in 2019 and reached a troop withdrawal agreement with the Trump administration.

During the talks, he forged what several officials described as a warm relationship with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. And these last days, his travels in Afghanistan – first in Kandahar, the source of the Taliban movement, and then in Kabul, where he began leading leadership meetings – were seen as confirmation that the new Taliban government was near.

Credit…FBI

Mr. Haqqani, who is said to be 48 and is the son of the Mujahedin commander and founder of the Haqqani network Jalaluddin Haqqani, stands out as one of the big winners in the Taliban’s return to power. He will be the interim interior minister, in charge of public order and possibly even local governance, and has also served as his commanders in other key government departments.

In 2016, he became one of two deputies to the Taliban’s supreme leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, overseeing a vast network of fighters and religious schools, and leading much of the Taliban’s military efforts.

Its Haqqani network, known for its close ties to Pakistani intelligence services, was the most bitter opponent of the US presence in Afghanistan. He was responsible for hostage-taking, targeted assassinations and suicide bombings, some of the huge truck bombings that killed civilians in Kabul.

Mr. Haqqani and his network also have some of the strongest and oldest ties to Al Qaeda.

“The Haqqanis stand at the crossroads between the Taliban and Al Qaeda – they are one of the main bridges,” said Thomas Joscelyn, senior researcher at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and editor of the group’s Long War Journal. .

Mr. Yaqoub, who is said to be in his thirties, is the head of the Taliban military commission and the eldest son of Mullah Omar.

His name attracted public attention during the succession to the leadership of the Taliban in 2016. Although Mr. Yaqoub had the support of some of the movement’s military commanders, concerns about his youth became a factor in the decision. final to choose Sheikh Haibatullah as general leader of the insurgency.

In the years that followed, Mr. Yaqoub rose to prominence. And in recent days he has played an increasingly public role in trying to keep order at the group’s triumphant base, warning that anyone caught looting “will be treated” and that any theft of government property. would be a betrayal of the country. “There is no permission to take a car or a house from anyone or anything,” he said.

Credit…Karim Jaafar / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Mr. Muttaqi, who until recently headed the powerful Taliban Invitation and Guidance Commission tasked with persuading many members of the Afghan army and police to surrender in recent months, said been awarded the key post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He was Minister of Information and Culture, then Minister of Education, in the first Taliban government. During the two decades of Taliban insurgency, he helped shape the group’s propaganda and psychological warfare strategy, before becoming chief of staff to the Supreme Leader and a member of the Taliban political delegation in Qatar.

In a movement known for his gloomy ways, Mr. Muttaqi has been one of the few consistent public faces since the 1990s. He was among the Taliban leaders who have had talks with US officials over the years and has been l he was one of the first senior Taliban officials to meet former Afghan officials, including Mr. Karzai, the former president, as well as Abdullah Abdullah, the former director general of the government, after the fall of Kabul.

Credit…Karim Jaafar / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Mr. Wasiq was one of five Guantánamo Bay prisoners released in exchange for the last American POW, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Upon his release, he arrived in Doha, Qatar, and became a key member of the Taliban talks with the United States, spending months negotiating with his former captors to leave Afghanistan. He is originally from the province of Ghazni and is said to be around fifty years old.

While the five inmates who were part of Bergdahl’s exchange secured leadership positions in the new government – including three ministers, a deputy minister and a governor – Mr. Wasiq takes on the key role of leading the same intelligence agency. where he was deputy in the 1990s. The intelligence agency was at the heart of the Taliban’s grip on power as a police state that ran vast networks of informants.

His interrogation records of his stay in Guantanamo accuse Mr. Wasiq of having close ties to al-Qaeda, in particular by arranging for the terrorist group to provide training to the intelligence agents of the Taliban government.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Mr. Mujahid, who says he is 43 years old and is from Paktia province, has been the Taliban’s main spokesperson and chief propagandist for years, responding to calls from journalists and maintaining a roadblock of social media posts. But not everyone saw his face until August 17th, when he led the first in-person Taliban press conference in Kabul.

Since then he has played a pivotal role in trying to urge Afghans and the world to accept the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, and saying the group is turning away from some of the harsh policies of its first term in power. .

“We no longer want Afghanistan to be a battleground – from today the war is over,” he said at the press conference.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Mr. Haqqani is a special representative of the supreme leader of the Taliban and an uncle of the deputy leader of the Taliban. He has long been a major fundraiser for the Haqqani Network, with close ties to the Gulf region, and is on the US and UN global terrorist lists.

In recent days, he has played a public role in establishing Taliban authority in Kabul. Just days after the fall of Kabul, he appeared in a large mosque in the city and told an enthusiastic crowd that “the number one priority of the Taliban for Afghanistan is security – if there is no security, there is no life ”.

He has been the main figure in the Taliban to secure the bayat, an oath of Islamic allegiance, from prominent Afghan figures over the past two weeks.

The report was provided by Carlotta Gall, Moujib Mashal, Jim Huylebroek, Matthew Aikins, Adam nossiter, Julian E. Barnes and Ruhullah Khapalwak.

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