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Taliban

Haibatullah Akhundzada: Shadowy Taliban supreme leader whose son was suicide bomber


Story by asiaone.com

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Published on September 12, 2021 7:02 AM
 
 
In one of the only known photographs of Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, he stares directly at the camera - an expressionless face between a white turban and a long, grey beard.

As the Islamist movement unveiled its new government on Tuesday (Sept 7) after it swept to power as US-led forces withdrew last month, the mysterious Akhundzada retained the role of supreme leader, the ultimate authority over the group's political, religious, and military affairs he has held since 2016.

"We will rebuild our war-torn country," Akhundzada said in a written statement released by the Taliban after Tuesday's appointments, his first comments since the group retook Afghanistan.

Akhundzada said the Taliban were committed to all international laws, treaties and commitments not in conflict with Islamic law, which would henceforth regulate all governance in Afghanistan.

A hardline cleric whose son was a suicide bomber, Akhundzada has spent most of his leadership in the shadows, letting others take the lead in negotiations that ultimately saw the United States and their allies leave Afghanistan after 20 years of grinding counter-insurgency war.

Even basic details such as his age are hard to verify. He is thought to be around 60.

Yet some analysts who have studied the Taliban say he was a guiding hand, healing divisions within the movement and managing the handling over international allies and ...