The Taliban Leaders – Who are they and how do they work?

Here's all we know so far.

The Taliban movement’s inner workings and leadership have always been primarily shrouded in secrecy. Now that the hardline group appears to be on the brink of regaining power in Afghanistan, people are looking into the leaders of the Taliban.

Here is a rundown of the little information known about the Taliban leadership:

Mullah Baradar – the Founder

Abdul Ghani Baradar was raised in Kandahar — the birthplace of the Taliban movement. Like most Afghans, Baradar’s life was forever altered by the Soviet invasion of the country in the late 1970s, transforming him into an insurgent. According to sources, he fought side-by-side with the one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar.

Amid the chaos and corruption of the civil war that erupted after the Soviet withdrawal, the two Mullahs went on to find the Taliban movement in the early 1990s. Following the Taliban’s collapse in 2001, Baradar is believed to have been among a small group of insurgents who approached the interim leader Hamid Karzai with a letter outlining a potential deal that would have seen the militants recognize the new administration.

Baradar was arrested in Pakistan in 2010. He was kept in custody until pressure from the United States saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar. This is where he was appointed head of the Taliban’s political office to oversee the withdrawal agreement with the Americans.

Haibatullah Akhundzada – the Supreme Leader

Haibatullah Akhundzada was appointed as a leader of the Taliban in a swift power transition after a United States drone strike killed his predecessor, Mullah Mansour Akhtar, in 2016. Before ascending the movement’s ranks, Akhundzada was a low-profile religious figure. Experts believe that he was selected to serve more as a spiritual figurehead than a military commander.

After being appointed leader, Akhundzada secured a pledge of loyalty from the Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who showered the religious scholar with praise — calling him “the emir of the faithful”. This helped seal his jihadist credentials with the group’s long-time allies.

The Supreme Leader Akhundzada has been tasked with the enormous challenge of unifying the militant movement. The movement briefly fractured during a bitter power struggle following the assassination of his predecessor and the revelation that the leadership had hidden the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar for years.

Sirajuddin Haqqani – the Haqqani Network

Jalaluddin Haqqani is the son of the famed commander from the anti-Soviet jihad. Sirajuddin doubles as both the deputy leader of the Taliban movement while also heading the robust Haqqani network. Known for their independence, fighting acumen, and savvy business dealings, the Haqqanis are believed to oversee operations in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan while holding considerable sway over the Taliban’s leadership council.

The Haqqani Network is a US-designated terror group that has long been viewed as one of the most dangerous factions fighting Afghan and US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan during the past two decades. The group is infamous for its use of suicide bombers and is believed to have orchestrated some of the most high-profile attacks in Kabul over the years.

Reports state that the network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Western citizens for ransom — including US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, released in 2014.

Mullah Yaqoob – the Scion

Mullan Yaqoof is the son of one of the Taliban’s founders Mullah Omar. He heads the group’s powerful military commission, which oversees a vast network of field commanders charged with executing the insurgency’s strategic operations in the war.

His lineage and ties to his father — who enjoyed a cult-like status as the Taliban’s leader — serves as a potent symbol making him a unifying figure over a sprawling movement.

However, speculation remains rife about Yaqoob’s exact role within the Taliban movement. Even after extensive research, many haven’t been able to figure out his part in the movement. Therefore, some analysts argue that his appointment to the role in 2020 was merely cosmetic.

What are your thoughts on this? Please share with us in the comment section below.

  • The ANA was trained by the Indians – and so,it was doomed !

    It was ONLY the USSR which invested in the ANA , and developed its leadership and IDENTIFIED TALENT , for recruitment.

    Y ?

    Because of IDEOLOGY ! Communism !

    It was the intellectual coordinate and intersection of Communism,between the USSR and the Afghans – which provided the osmotic and symbiotic relationship between the 2 ,and thus,the 2 armies and their nations and leaders,,were comrades in arms and partners in an ideological war.THERE WAS NEVER A THREAT PERCEPTION TO THE USSR,FROM THE ANA

    USA was just using the ANA as cannon fodder and mercenaries.There was NO IDEOLOGICAL COORDINATE OR PROXIMITY OR CONVERGENCE.

    The entire military strategy and leadership was American.The US aim was to keep 350000 ,men FROM JOINING TALIBAN and using the ANA,to keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda ON THE MOVE.When there is movement, enemies BECOME TARGETS – who can then be killed !There was never any attempt to build an ANA leadership ,as the ANA would have toppled Ghani ,as soon as the US left.

    The issue is not the technology given to the ANA.You do not need high-tech to fight Taliban.Basically,the ANA knew that the Taliban were at BAY ONLY DUE TO THE AMERICANS.ANA WAS USED TO KEEP THE TARGET MOVING AND VISIBLE and the TRIANGULATION WAS ALL DONE BY THE US WITH DRONES AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY

    ANA knew that once the US left .- it was ONLY A QUESTION OF TIME ! The ANA could not even protect the Salma Dam of the Indians which was also a disaster
    like Chabahar !

    And with the exit of the US, the vacuous ness of the Afghan regime’s ideology,was exposed – and so,the ANA said – WHAT ARE WE DYING FOR – NOW ?

    There is a misconception about the 1 Trillion USD spent by the US,Most of it is transfer pricing, like salaries on the US army.Some of it is Military Training and R&D – which is experimentation with new tech and tactics.The payments to ANA and The Afghan state ,are TO CREATE A MINION OF SPIES AND AGENTS FOR LIFE – SO IT IS AN INVESTMENT – NOT A COST.



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