As the Afghan Taliban (Atta) has captured more and more cities in Afghanistan, the Taliban leadership has gained more international engagement with different countries and more attention to the Taliban leadership.
On 18 July, the Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, delivered an Eid al-Adha message, declaring his willingness to establish “good and strong diplomatic, economic and political relations” with the rest of the world.
Akhundzada pledged that the Taliban would do its utmost to protect the safety of embassies and consulates, humanitarian organizations and foreign investors in Afghanistan
In addition to Akhundzada‘s high-profile statements, senior Taliban figures have made several appearances at peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, to draw the world’s attention to senior Taliban figures who have long been in the fog of “mystery”.
Reuters reported on August 12th that the Afghan Taliban included Hibatullah Akhundzada, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani. They are mostly Pashtuns, responsible for leading the political, religious and military affairs of the Taliban.
The pyramid structure of the Taliban
Akhundzada‘s is at the top of the Leadership Structure of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the BBC reported on July 1. Akhundzada‘s three deputies are Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is in charge of political affairs, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, who heads the military, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated militant group. In addition, Abdul Hakim Haqqani oversees the Taliban’s judicial structure as a veteran magistrate.
The Afghan Taliban have 13 other committees, including the military, intelligence, economic, political and others, of which the Doha Political Office, which is run by the Taliban Political Committee, is responsible for peace negotiations.
“Leader” Hibatullah Akhundzada
Hibatullah Akhundzada, known as a “loyal leader,” is a Shariah scholar with ultimate power over the Taliban’s political, religious and military affairs, Reuters reported. In 2016, Akhundzada took over as the Taliban’s top leader, succeeding his predecessor, Akhtar Mansour, who died in a U.S. drone strike.
According to public information, Akhundzada, a Pashtun, was born in 1961 to the Nurzai tribe in Kandahar province. His father was also a clergy member. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, Akhundzada worked as a teacher at an Islamic school run by The Taliban founder Omar, from which many senior Taliban figures came from.
Reuters reported that Akhundzada preached and taught at a mosque in the southwestern Pakistani town of Kuchirak after the Taliban were ousted by U.S. forces. Akhundzada “suddenly disappeared” in 2016 and soon became the leader of the Afghan Taliban. At present, Akhundzada’s specific habitat is not known to the outside world.
Because of the mystery of Akhundzada’s where abouts, rumors of his “death” are often heard in the media. The Hindustan Times has reported that Akhundzada’s was killed in an explosion in Pakistan’s Balochistan province in 2020, and media reports say he died of a new crown virus.
“The eldest son” Mullah Mohammad Yasir
Mullah Mohammad Yasir
Mullah Mohammad Yasir, about 30 years old, is a Pashtun, Reuters reported. He was the eldest son of Taliban’s founder Omar, so he was once considered a candidate to take over the Taliban leadership.
Reported that a Taliban commander revealed that Yereli in 2016 to promote the new leader of the meeting to actively promote Akhundzada. Yeer thinks he has no practical experience and is too young.
At present, Mullah Mohammad Yasir is responsible for overseeing the Taliban’s military operations. Local media in Afghanistan reported that Mullah Mohammad Yasir was a lone white man in Afghanistan.
Foreign Policy last May quoted Mualana Muhammad Ali Jan Ahmed, a senior Taliban commander, as saying that Akhundzada had been infected with the new crown virus at the time, during which Time Yarloye had assumed responsibility for leading the Taliban.
“The Housekeeper” Sirajuddin Haqqani
Sirajuddin Haqqani is the son of Sirajuddin Haqqani, commander of the Afghan militant group’s Haqqani network. After Jalaludin’s death in 2018, Sirajuddin took over the leadership of the Haqqani network.
Currently, the Haqqani network is located on the Borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, active in the Afghan capital Kabul and the eastern border provinces with Pakistan, and oversees the Taliban’s financial and military assets along the border. Sirazuddin is thus seen as the Taliban’s “butler”.
Some experts believe it was the Haqqani family that brought suicide bombers into Afghanistan, Reuters reported. The Haqqani family is also believed to have been behind the attack on a high-end hotel in Kabul, the attempted assassination of then-President Hamid Karzai and a suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan.
Haqqani is believed to be between the ages of 40 and 50 and his whereabouts are unknown.
Doha negotiators: Baradar, Stanikzai, Abdul-Hakim Haqqani
Mullah Abdul-Ghani Baradar is one of the co-founders of the Taliban. Baradar is currently the head of the Taliban’s political office and a member of the group’s negotiating team in Doha.
The Taliban negotiating team in Doha has been trying for months to hammer out a political agreement with the Afghan government that paves the way for a cease-fire to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. However, the Doha negotiating process has had little success in recent months.
Baradar is reported to be one of the most trusted commanders of former Taliban leader Omar. Baradar was captured by security forces in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010 but released in 2018.
In addition to Baradar, the Dota negotiating team includes Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Abdul-Hakim Haqqani and others.
Stanikzai served as deputy minister in the Taliban-ruled government and has lived in Doha for nearly a decade. In 2015, Stanikzai became head of the Political Office of the Doha Taliban.
Stanikzai has been involved in negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and has traveled to several countries on behalf of the Taliban.
Abdul-Hakim Haqqani, who heads the Taliban’s negotiating team and heads a powerful committee of religious scholars, is widely regarded as Akhundzada’s most trusted man.