Three weeks after taking power in Afghanistan, the Taliban announced this Tuesday (7) part of its future government, which will be headed by Mohammad Hasan Akhund.
Founded in 1994 by Mullah Omar, the Islamic movement has always been shrouded in mystery, even during his previous tenure of the country, from 1996 to 2001.
Below is an overview of the new faces of the Afghan executive, which the Taliban has promised to be “inclusive” and which will be completed in the coming weeks.
Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Prime Minister
Archive photo taken Aug. 25, 1999 shows Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz meeting his then-Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hasan Akhund (left) at an air base in Rawalpindi, about 25 kilometers from Islamabad. — Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP
A native of Kandahar, the new Afghan prime minister was a close ally and political adviser to the movement’s founder and supreme leader, Mullah Omar.
In the first Taliban government, he was deputy foreign minister and governor of Kandahar province, in the south, cradle of the Islamists.
According to the United Nations, Mohammad Hasan Akhund, whose name appears on the list of those sanctioned by the Security Council for involvement in “Taliban acts and activities”, is known to have been one of the “most effective Taliban commanders”.
Mullah Baradar, Deputy Prime Minister
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, downtown Moscow, March 2021 — Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters
Movement co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be number two in the new executive, Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s main spokesman, said at a press conference in Kabul.
Baradar, a figure respected by various Taliban factions, coordinated the Doha negotiations with the US government, which led to the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.
Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Prime Minister
Abdul Salam Hanafi arrives for peace talks in Doha in August 2021 — Photo: Hussein Sayed/Reuters
Abdul Salam Hanafi, who is also on the UN blacklist, was the deputy minister of education in the first Taliban government, which banned women from schooling.
The UN banned him from traveling, but suspended the measure so that he could participate in the Doha negotiations.
After the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, it took over the province of Jawzjan (north), controlled by the Islamic movement. The UN Security Council also accuses him of involvement in drug trafficking.
Taliban Announces Interim Government in Afghanistan
Sirajuddin Haqqani, Interior Minister
Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network, will head the Interior Ministry. He is the son of the famous anti-Soviet jihad commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.
The Haqqani network, founded by his father, is considered “terrorist” by Washington, which claims to be one of the most dangerous factions faced by Afghan and NATO troops in the last two decades.
The FBI has promised a reward of up to $5 million for any information that could lead to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The network is accused of having murdered senior Afghan officials and kidnapping Westerners, which they reportedly freed in exchange for ransom or other prisoners. This is the case of American soldier Bowe Bergdhal who, after being kidnapped, was released in 2014 in exchange for five Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo.
Mullah Yaqub, Minister of Defense
Among the other appointments announced on Tuesday are that of Mullah Yaqub, son of Mullah Omar, for the post of Defense Minister;
Yaqub is the head of the powerful Taliban military commission, which decided the movement’s strategy in the war against the Afghan government.
Ties to his father, highly revered as the head of the Taliban, make him a unifying figure within a broad and diverse movement.
However, speculations about his exact role in the movement are common and some analysts consider his appointment as head of the aforementioned commission in 2020 to be only symbolic.