As Taliban take control of Afghanistan, a look at who's who of the leadership

The Taliban, which means "students" in Pashto language, emerged in 1994 around the city of Kandahar. It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of Afghanistan, 20 years after they were ousted by the American troops.
Taliban fighters on a police vehicle outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday.(Reuters Photo)
Taliban fighters on a police vehicle outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday.(Reuters Photo)
Published on Aug 16, 2021 11:40 AM IST
Copy Link
By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Taliban, after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul, declared on Monday that the war in Afghanistan was over. President Ashraf Ghani has fled to central Asian country of Tajikistan, and western countries are scrambling to evacuate their citizens.

There is chaos at the Kabul airport as frantic Afghans are searching for a way out.

"Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years," Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban's political office, told Al Jazeera TV.

It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of Afghanistan, 20 years after they were ousted by the American and allied forces. The insurgents overran the country in the wake of the withdrawal of US troops.

Who are the Taliban?

The movement's inner workings and leadership have always been largely shrouded in secrecy. Here is a rundown of what is known about its structure, and other intriguing facts about the insurgents.

Haibatullah Akhundzada: He was appointed as the supreme leader of the Taliban in a power transition after a US drone strike killed his predecessor, Mullah Mansour Akhtar, in 2016.

Akhundzada's public profile has somehow been limited to annual messages during Islamic holidays.

Mullah Baradar: One of the co-founders, Abdul Ghani Baradar was raised in Kandahar, the birthplace of Taliban. The Soviet invasion in the 1970s turned him into an insurgent. Baradar and cleric Mullah Omar later founded the Taliban in the early 1990s.

Mullah Yaqoob: He's the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar. He heads the powerful military commission, which oversees a vast network of field commanders charged with executing the insurgency's strategic operations.

Sirajuddin Haqqani: The son of a commander from the anti-Soviet jihad, Jalaluddin Haqqani, Sirajuddin doubles up as deputy leader of the movement while heading the powerful Haqqani network, a US-designated terror group.

The rise of Taliban

Genesis: The Taliban, which means "students" in Pashto language, emerged in 1994 around the city of Kandahar. They were the main factions fighting a civil war after the Soviets left Afghanistan. They went on the draw members from the "mujahideen" who, with the support of the United States, repelled the Soviets back in the 1980s. Much later, they gained sole control over most of Afghanistan, proclaiming a powerful Islamic Emirate in 1996 and staying firmly in power until 2001.

Modus operandi: During their 1996-2001 reign in the country, they enforced a hugely unpopular and internationally condemned strict version of sharia law. Women across the country were strictly barred from working or studying; they were confined to their homes unless accompanied by a male guardian outdoors. Public executions and floggings were also a common sight. Western films and books were banned. Cultural artefacts seen as blasphemous were destroyed.

Global recognition: Only four countries, including neighbour Pakistan, formally recognised the Taliban government when it was in power. Other countries around the world, along with the United Nations, instead recognised a different group holding provinces to the north of Kabul as Afghanistan's government-in-waiting. The US and UN imposed strict sanctions on the Taliban. Even now, most countries are showing no signs of formally recogni the group diplomatically.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP
×
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, October 25, 2021