The son of the late founder of the Taliban has been appointed the head of the terrorist organization’s military commission that is trying to overthrow the Afghan government.
Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob’s appointment has been confirmed, senior militant figures have said, according to The Telegraph. The terrorist group has ramped up its attacks recently as the United States struck up a peace deal that would see U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.
Yaqoob, 30, was handed a senior military position within the Afghan Taliban in 2015 after previously refusing to accept the leadership of the group’s chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was killed by the U.S. military in an air strike in 2016. Yaqoob will also keep that post as the deputy to the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada. However, he while now oversee military operations, bringing an end to Sardar Ibrahim’s reign as the Taliban’s defacto military leader.
Two sources told the Telegraph that Ibrahim was considered too hostile to Pakistan and too close to Iran, as factions were beginning to form in the Taliban based on similar lines. Ibrahim reportedly blamed Pakistan for the death of Mansoor, who was his friend.
“By appointing Mullah Yaqoob, the leader of the faithful [Taliban leader] Haibatullah wants to send a clear message that he can remove or appoint Taliban leaders,” a former Taliban minister now in Kabul reportedly said. “But Ibrahim already holds strong local and Iranian support, so let’s see how this moves ahead.”
The development comes after the United States, Afghanistan and the Taliban have agreed to peace terms that would see the end of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan so long as the Taliban does not conduct any acts of terror against the United States or its allies.
President Donald Trump campaigned on bringing troops home from what he described as an endless and costly war in the Middle East. Thus, the peace deal has been a high priority of his administration. Working with Afghan officials in securing the region has been a key element to his plan.
However, for the first time the United States mission in Afghanistan has refused to report the number of terrorist attacks in the region, the Associated Press reported.
The Taliban took credit for a terrorist attack against an Afghani government military post on May 4 in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. Although the Taliban said the attack killed dozens of Afghan troops, the Afghan government says only one person was wounded in the bombing.
Reuters notes that the Taliban has conducted 4,500 attacks in Afghanistan and there was a 70 percent increase between March 1 and April 15 compared to the same period a year ago.
Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said the data on terrorist attacks will be released when the information is “no longer integral” to the discussions regarding the Taliban’s adherence to the peace agreement.
“The U.S., NATO and our international partners have been clear that the Taliban’s level of violence against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces is unacceptably high,” he said.