The Taliban unveiled its new government on Tuesday in the presence of invited foreign delegations from Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar - which gives a strong indicator of how Afghanistan's new foreign policy will be aligned.
"Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the little-known head of the Taliban’s leadership council, was named as acting prime minister, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday," Bloomberg reports of the announcement. The spokesman emphasized this is the current 'acting' or caretaker government.
Though Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was widely expected to be named head of state, given he's until now been the public face of the group at places like Doha during negotiations, Baradar has been named as deputy prime minister.
Akhund is considered among the founding members of the Taliban, according to one profile:
Akhund is from the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, where the Taliban had emerged in the 1990s. He was among the founding members of the insurgency group, according to reports. He is believed to be more of a religious than a military leader and is considered close to the Taliban's spiritual and supreme leader Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Perhaps more interesting is who was named as the new Taliban government's interior minister - none other than Sirajuddin Haqqani of the notorious terrorist Haqqani Network.
"Sirajuddin Haqqani - the leader of the Haqqani Network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization - will serve as acting interior minister," Bloomberg continues. "That may complicate any moves by the U.S. to cooperate with the Taliban, particularly as President Joe Biden urges the Taliban to cut all ties with terrorist groups."
'Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was on the US terrorist list, is now the "interior minister" of the Taliban government'— Eliza 💚🤍🖤 (@AstroNoodleCat) September 7, 2021
➡️ Let that sink in. He's still on the FBI most wanted list for terrorism. https://t.co/IDjZgweTiB
So this is the "inclusive" new government that the world has been anticipating, complete with an interior minister who currently has a $5 million FBI bounty on his head. According to the FBI Rewards for Justice Program, Sirajuddin Haqqani is considered "armed and dangerous" and is still "wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen."
Further, "He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008."
Taliban's new Prime Minister, Mullah Hassan Akhund, is on a UN terror list. The new Interior Minister, Siraj Haqqani has a 5 million $ dollar information bounty by the US govt.— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) September 7, 2021
Below is the list of top officials named to serve in the new government, via Afghanistan's TOLO News:
- Head of State: Mullah Hassan Akhund
- First Deputy: Mullah Baradar
- Second Deputy: Mawlavi Hannafi
- Acting Minister of Defense: Mullah Yaqoub Acting
- Minister of Interior: Serajuddin Haqqani
- Acting Foreign Minister: Amir Khan Muttaqi
- Acting Finance Minister: Mullah Hedayatullah Badri
- Acting Education Minister: Sheikh Mawlawi Noorullah
- Acting Minister for Information and Culture: Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah