Following the confirmation from the Taliban that their leader, Mullah Mansour was killed in a United States drone strike last week, the group appointed their new successor.
Taliban leaders met in what is believed to be Pakistan to appoint their new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, who was formerly one of Mansour’s deputies.
Akhundzada was a former judge for the Taliban regime and became the head of the shadow courts when the Taliban was ousted from power by the U.S. invasion back in 2001. In the Taliban courts he had a reputation for being a ruthless judge. Akhundzada was also a powerful speaker that preached Taliban propaganda. He also issued fatwas to justify the use of military and terrorist operations.
The Taliban’s statement also confirmed Akhundzada’s deputies. They are Sirajuddin Haqqani who is the leader of the Haqqani network, and Maulavi Mohammad Yaqub who is the Taliban founder Omar’s son. Haqqani was feared to become the new leader of the Taliban by some observers since his network has conducted some of the most deadly attacks, including last month’s suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 70 civilians.
The Taliban organization has been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since 2001. Western authorities believe that Pakistani authorities have been giving shelter to Taliban leaders over the Afghan border since they were ousted from power in 2001.
The Taliban statement called for three days of mourning for Mansour as well as complete obedience to the new leader. The statement read “For the protection and development of our cause, it is a religious obligation on everyone to pledge allegiance to the newly appointed leader…and continue their struggle under his truthful leadership.”
Mansour caused many issues between the U.S. and Afghanistan by impeding peace talks between the two countries. “The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict — joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability,” Obama said this week.