The Taliban had announced their interim government in Afghanistan yesterday. While relatively unknown Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund has been chosen as the acting Prime Minister of the newly re-established Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Abdul Ghani Baradar, the expected frontrunner for the role, will now be his deputy.
Others in the cabinet include Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai. FBI-wanted leader of the Haqqani group Sirajuddin Haqqani will be the new interior minister.
Who is Sirajuddin Haqqani?
Sirajuddin Haqqani is the leader of the dreaded Haqqani Network and a designated wanted terrorist with a bounty of $10 million on his head. One of the top leaders of the Taliban, Haqqani is one of the deputies of the supreme leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Haqqani's father was the founder of the Haqqani Network, a sub-network that merged with the Taliban in 1995. Before its merger with the Taliban, the group was one of the most supported by the US intelligence agencies to resist the Soviet Invasion, under then-President Ronald Reagan.
Haqqani was largely responsible for the military affairs of the Taliban in the fight against the US and NATO forces. Thought to be in his early 40s, Haqqani has been behind multiple terror attacks. Haqqani is wanted for questioning by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to the 2008 attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including an American citizen.
Haqqani and his network were also involved in an assassination plot against former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in 2008. Several other terrorist acts have been linked to him through the actions of the Haqqani network including attacks against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
"He's armed, dangerous, and running a country we just abandoned. Americans are still trapped behind Taliban lines," said Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Thought to be more radical than many of his counterparts, Haqqani allegedly maintains close connections with al-Qaeda. The new interior minister was thought to have been sheltered in Northern Waziristan, even managing to escape several drone strikes aimed at taking him out.
"For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop," Haqqani wrote in a controversial op-ed for the New York Times last year.
"I am confident that, liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity," he had said.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)
First Published: IST