Baradar reportedly flew immediately from Doha to Kabul on Sunday evening as militants stormed the presidential palace
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the “leader of the faithful”, is the supreme commander of the Taliban with the final say on their political, religious and military policies.
Akhundzada is expected to take the title of Emir of Afghanistan.
Considered to be around 60 years old, he is not known for his military strategy, but he is revered as an Islamic scholar and heads the Taliban by that right.
It took over in 2016 when the group’s former leader Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike on the Pakistani border.
After being appointed leader, Akhundzada obtained an oath of loyalty from al-Qaeda leader 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 longtime allies.
Akhundzada was tasked with meeting the enormous challenge of unifying a militant movement that briefly fractured in a bitter power struggle following the assassination of his predecessor and the revelation that the leadership had hidden the founder’s death. of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, for years.
The leader’s public profile was largely limited to posting annual messages during Islamic holidays.
Akhundzada was born around 1959 to a religious scholar in Panjwayi district in Kandahar province.
His family was forced to flee their home during the Soviet invasion, and he joined the resistance when he was young.
He was one of the first new Taliban recruits in the 1990s and immediately impressed his superiors with his knowledge of Islamic law.
When the Taliban captured Farah province in western Afghanistan, he was tasked with fighting crime in the region.
As the Taliban increasingly took over the country, Akhunzad became head of the military tribunal and deputy head of its supreme court.
After the US invasion in 2001, he became head of the Taliban Council of Religious Scholars and is said to be the author of many of its fatwas (Islamic legal rulings), including public executions of murderers and adulterers and cutting off hands of thieves.
Before being appointed the new leader, he had preached and taught for about 15 years at a mosque in Kuchlak, a city in southwestern Pakistan, sources told Reuters.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet jihad commander
Sirajuddin is both the deputy leader of the Taliban movement while leading the powerful Haqqani network.
The Haqqani Network is a United States-designated terrorist group that has long been considered one of the most dangerous factions fighting the United States-led Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan for the past two decades. .
The group is infamous for its use of suicide bombers and is said to have orchestrated some of the most high-profile attacks in Kabul over the years.
The network has also been accused of assassinating senior Afghan officials and detaining kidnapped Western citizens for ransom, including US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, released in 2014.
Known for their independence, combat skills, and savvy business connections, the Haqqanis are said to oversee operations in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, while exercising considerable influence on the Taliban’s governing council.
Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the founder of the Taliban
Mullah Yaqoob heads the group’s powerful military commission, which oversees a large network of field commanders tasked with executing the insurgency’s strategic operations during the war.
His lineage and connection to his father – who enjoyed cult status as the leader of the Taliban – is a powerful symbol and makes him a unifying figure above a sprawling movement.
However, there is still plenty of speculation about Yaqoob’s exact role within the movement, with some analysts claiming his appointment to the post in 2020 was only cosmetic.