Introducing...Hibatullah Akhundzada, leader of the Taliban

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Introducing...Hibatullah Akhundzada, leader of the Taliban

Richard Swift writes about the Taliban leaders of over 40 million Afghans.

p9_Introducing.jpg Illustration: Emma Peer

Akhundzada is the so-called ‘friendly face’ of the Taliban as it takes power in Afghanistan after the end of the trillion-dollar US occupation. He was made leader in 2016 after the assassination of the former leader in a US drone attack. After about 20 years of Western occupation failed as Afghans resisted all outsiders, he is now ‘Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’.

Akhundzada is a true fundamentalist. He studied in the madrassas or schools of Quetta in Pakistan. His Pashtun family ran away to Pakistan from their home in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, after the Soviet invasion in 1979. He has very little military experience but fundamentalists respect him for his understanding of Sharia law when he was leader of the Islamic courts in the country. People say he is modest and shy but he supports suicide bombing and the death of his own son. His son blew himself up in Helmand Province. He also supported the assassination campaign against Afghan society and people in the media and women activists.

What we know about him makes Afghan democratic and feminist activists afraid – for example, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. They are against the Taliban and the Western occupation of their country. They did not trust the power of the corrupt government of the former Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. He ran away from the country on a helicopter - people say it was full of cash. Western occupiers promised to bring democracy and women’s rights to Afghanistan but they found themselves working with the warlords with little interest in these rights. With 60,000 Afghan army casualties it is not surprising that the military decided that dying for a corrupt government was a very bad idea.

It is very likely that Akhundzada will stay in Kandahar to decide on the sharia law to punish the men and particularly the women of Afghanistan. The government in Kabul will be under the control of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar started and was a deputy-leader of the Taliban. Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund was deputy prime minister in the first Taliban government and will lead the government in every day affairs. The Taliban leadership also includes Akhundzada’s deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

It is not clear if the Taliban is well-organised or just an idea the Afghan national resistance has come together under. If the Taliban is not so well organised, how strict the rules are will depend on the local commanders more than Mullah Akhundzada.


(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)