One of the founders and number two in the Taliban hierarchy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returned to Afghanistan on Tuesday (17), two days after the radical group regained power thanks to a military offensive.
This is the first time a senior leader has publicly returned to the country since the faction was ousted in 2001 by Western troops. The mullah, who heads the Taliban’s political bureau and was part of the group that was discussing a ceasefire with the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar, landed in Kandahar, in the south of the country, according to Mohamad Naeem, one of the Taliban spokespersons on Twitter.
The choice of location was not without reason. The country’s second city, Kandahar was where the Taliban established their regime’s capital during their first time in power, 1996-2001. The group, formed in the first half of the 1990s , was also born in the province of the same name.
According to some reports, Baradar had the confidence of Mullah Omar, founder and first leader of the Taliban.
Captured in 2010 by security forces in southern Pakistan, the regime’s number two was released in 2018. He was, for example, responsible for representing the fundamentalist group in the signing of a historic peace agreement with the United States. in February 2020, in an attempt to end a conflict spanning nearly two decades – a document torn apart by the new military offensive.
Baradar’s return to the country is another step in consolidating the Islamic Emirate as an authority in Afghanistan. In addition to the mullah, find out who the other key figures in the Taliban are.
LEADER: HIBATULLAH AKHUNDZADA
Known as the “leader of the faithful,” the Islamic jurist is the supreme leader of the Taliban and has the final say in the group’s political, religious and military affairs.
Akhundzada took command when his predecessor, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a U.S. drone attack on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2016.
For 15 years, until his sudden disappearance in May 2016, Akhundzada taught and preached in a mosque in Kuchlak, a city in southwest Pakistan, according to student reports to Reuters news agency. He would be in his sixties and we don’t know where he is.
MILITARY CHIEF: MULA MOHAMMAD YAQOOB
Son of the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, Yaqoob oversees the group’s military operations and lives in Afghanistan, according to international media.
He was repeatedly asked to take the lead in the group, but in 2016 he officially recommended Akhundzada’s name for the job. According to a Taliban commander who attended the meeting where the advice was given, Yaqoob made the decision because he felt he did not have enough battlefield experience and was too young. to assume command of the organization.
He is now estimated to be around 30 years old.
HEAD OF THE HAQQANI NETWORK: SIRAJUDDIN HAQQANI
Son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a famous Islamic guerrilla, Sirajuddin heads the Haqqani Network, a group that oversees the financial and military assets of the Taliban on the Pakistani border.
Experts say it was the haqqanis who introduced the concept of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The group has been blamed for a series of attacks in the country, including the attempted assassination of then-President Hamid Karzai, an invasion of Kabul’s most famous hotel and a suicide bombing on the embassy from India. Sirajuddin is in his fifties and it is not known where he is.
SHER MOHAMMAD ABBAS STANEKZAI
A former deputy minister when the Taliban first ruled Afghanistan, Stanekzai lived in Doha for nearly a decade and became the group’s political bureau chief in the Qatari capital in 2015. He participated in negotiations with the Afghan government and acts as a sort of Taliban diplomat traveling to other countries.
ABDUL HAKIM HAQQANI
Leader of the faction’s negotiating group. He is a former president of the highest court of the Taliban and heads an influential council of scholars of Islam. He is considered the main man of trust of Akhundzada, the current leader of the radicals.