Public executions and stoning: who is Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the Taliban who will rule Afghanistan at gunpoint

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Following the seizure of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the world is waiting for what form its government will take. This Wednesday, one of the group’s spokesmen, Waheedullah Hashimi, told the agency Reuters that the country could be governed by a council, while the supreme leader of the militant Islamist movement, Haibatullah Akhundzada, will probably remain in command.

Another aspect that Hashimi made clear is that the country it won’t be a democracy. “There will be no democratic system because it has no base in our country,” he said. “We are not going to discuss what kind of political system we should apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is the sharia (Islamic law) and that’s it ”.

The power structure outlined by the spokesperson would have similarities to how the Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. So the supreme leader, Mullah Omar, remained in the shadows and left the day-to-day management of the country in the hands of a council.

Akhundzada would likely play a role above the head of the council, which would be similar to that of the country’s president, Hashimi added. “Perhaps his deputy (Akhundzada) will play the role of ‘president,'” said Hashimi, who spoke in English.

The Supreme Leader of the Taliban has three deputies: Mawlavi Yaqub, son of Mullah Omar; Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani militant network, and Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office in Doha and is one of the founding members of the group.

What is known about Akhundzada

Elibá Haibatullah Akhundzada He was appointed head of the Taliban in May 2016 during a rapid transition of power, days after the death of his predecessor, Mansur, killed by a drone attack American in Pakistan.

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Son of a theologian, originally from Kandahar, the heart of the Pashtun country in southern Afghanistan and the birthplace of the Taliban, Akhundzada belongs to the Noorzai tribe and his name in Arabic means “Gift from God”.

The leader quickly obtained a Ayman al-Zawahiri’s pledge of allegiance, the leader of Al Qaeda. The Egyptian called him “Emir al muminin”, that is to say “prince of the believers”, denomination that allowed him to consolidate his credibility in the jihadist world.

Akhundzada had the delicate mission of unify the talibandivided by a violent struggle for power after Mansur’s death and the revelation that they had concealed for years the death of the founder of the movement, Mullah Omar.

The insurgent managed to keep the group together and continued to be quite discreet, limiting itself to transmitting annual messages on Islamic holidays.

The leader of the Taliban fought against Soviet troops who invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support the communist government in its fight against other factions and joined the Taliban during the bloody civil war that happened at the end of the Soviet occupation in 1989. However, his role was always more focused on judicial and religious issues than military.

During the first Taliban government (1996-2001), led by Mullah Omar, Akhundzada held the positions of Vice President of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and Chief Justice of the Military Supreme Court.

When the United States led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, following the September 11 attacks, Akhundzada fled to pakistan, like many leaders of the Taliban and became head of the group’s council of religious scholars.

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It is believed that there he directed a religious school or madrasa near the town of Quetta. It is also claimed that it maintains close ties with an important Taliban group based in that Pakistani city.

Akhundzada es un erudito hardline religious from Kandahar, making it unlikely that the group’s direction will change. Akhundzada is the one that published most of the fatwas (religious edicts) promulgated by the jihadists and is at the head of the Council of the “Shura”, made up of about 30 members, the group’s highest body since May 2016.

In its judicial decisions, supported punishments such as public executions of murderers, stoning of women considered “adulteresses” and amputations of the hands and feet of those guilty of theft.

According The Washington Post, since he became the leader of the Taliban, Akhundzada worked for strengthen group finances, in part through drug trafficking.

While waiting for the definition of the structure of the Taliban government, Akhundzada already ordered this Wednesday the release of “political prisoners”, as tweeted by the movement that already controls the country. “Starting tomorrow, all provincial governors must release all political prisoners, whatever their importance, without restrictions or conditions, and hand them over to their families,” the statement in Arabic said.

What the Taliban Regime Was Like 20 Years Ago

When they were in power, the Taliban (students in religion) imposed a strict Islamic law that prohibited games, music, photographs, and television. Thieves had their hands cut off, murderers were executed in public, and homosexuals were killed.

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They denied women the right to work or even go out on the streets without being accompanied by a male from the family. Girls’ schools were closed. Women accused of adultery were flogged and stoned to death. They were also forced to wear the burqa, this veil that covers from head to toe and covers the eyes with a mesh.

Men were required to wear long beards, attend prayer under penalty of flogging, and were required to wear traditional garb, the shalwar kameez. The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice made terror reign, with squads that roamed the streets to enforce its harsh laws.

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