Abdul Salam Hanafi

Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi is a U.N.-sanctioned Taliban senior leader who served as deputy minister of education under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s and later took on a prominent role within the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar.“Once wanted terrorists, now Taliban are prominent members of 2021,” Economic Times, August 28, 2021, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/once-wanted-terrorists-now-taliban-are-prominent-members-of-2021/articleshow/85712428.cms?from=mdr; “Security Council Committee Approves Amendments to identifying Information of Eight Individuals on Consolidated List,” United Nations, February 11, 2008, https://www.un.org/press/en/2008/sc9245.doc.htm. On September 7, 2021, it was announced that Hanafi will serve as the co-deputy prime minister of the Taliban’s caretaker government in Afghanistan.Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/world/asia/taliban-women-protest-kabul-afghanistan.html.

According to media sources, Hanafi, an ethnic Uzbek, studied at various religious seminaries both in and out of Karachi and has taught at Kabul University.“Once wanted terrorists, now Taliban are prominent members of 2021,” Economic Times, August 28, 2021, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/once-wanted-terrorists-now-taliban-are-prominent-members-of-2021/articleshow/85712428.cms?from=mdr. During the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, Hanafi served as governor as well as deputy minister of education. Following the Taliban’s fall from power in 2001, Hanafi was placed in charge of various provinces by the Taliban leadership. In May 2007, Hanafi was in charge of the Jawzujan Province and was also responsible for Jawzjan Province until 2008.“ABDUL SALAM HANAFI ALI MARDAN QUL,” United Nations Security Council, February 23, 2001, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1988/materials/summaries/individual/abdul-salam-hanafi-ali-mardan-qul. Hanafi later served as deputy head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, and served on the negotiating team that finalized the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020.“Once wanted terrorists, now Taliban are prominent members of 2021,” Economic Times, August 28, 2021, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/once-wanted-terrorists-now-taliban-are-prominent-members-of-2021/articleshow/85712428.cms?from=mdr; Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/world/asia/taliban-women-protest-kabul-afghanistan.html. Given Hanafi’s role within the Taliban, the United Nations Security Council sanctioned Hanafi on February 23, 2001, and the U.K. Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation sanctioned Hanafi on April 2 of that year.“ABDUL SALAM HANAFI ALI MARDAN QUL,” United Nations Security Council, February 23, 2001, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1988/materials/summaries/individual/abdul-salam-hanafi-ali-mardan-qul; “Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation HM Treasury, February 1, 2021, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/957420/afghanistan.pdf.

On August 6, 2021, the Taliban began an offensive against major Afghan cities with the seizure of Zaranj, capital of Nimruz province.Susannah George and Ezzatullah Mehrdad, “Taliban fighters overrun an Afghan provincial capital for the first time since withdrawal of foreign forces,” Washington Post, August 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/06/afghanistan-taliban-nimruz/. By August 13, the Taliban controlled 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and more than two-thirds of the country.Rahim Faiez, and Joseph Krauss, “Taliban sweep across Afghanistan’s south; take 4 more cities,” Associated Press, August 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-taliban-c6c8d4a41c554f36031a8131538d1402. On August 15, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan and thousands of Afghans poured into Kabul’s airport as Taliban fighters entered the city. By August 16, the Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace and took complete control of Kabul, after which the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan had ended.“Taliban declares ‘war is over’ as president and diplomats flee Kabul,” Reuters, August 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/talibans-rapid-advance-across-afghanistan-2021-08-10/. The Taliban has claimed that it would take on a more “moderate” approach in their ruling of the country, and that women are allowed to have roles in public life in observance of “Islamic law.”“Factbox: Taliban seek to present a moderate face as they take control in Afghanistan,” Reuters, August 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-seek-present-moderate-face-they-take-control-afghanistan-2021-08-15/.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, on September 2, 2021, Hanafi had a phone conversation with China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao and stated that the Taliban is willing to develop friendly relations with China and will never threaten Chinese interests.“Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao Speaks with Deputy Head of the Afghan Taliban's Political Office in Doha Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi on the Phone,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, September 2, 2021, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/t1904432.shtml.

On September 7, 2021, the Taliban announced the official appointments within their caretaker government. Muhammad Hassan Akhund was named prime minister, and Hanafi was named co-deputy prime minister along with Abdul Ghani Baradar, a fellow Taliban veteran who led the U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Doha. The government is exclusively male, with many positions filled with veterans from their hardline movement in the early nineties.Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/world/asia/taliban-women-protest-kabul-afghanistan.html; Kathy Gannon, “Taliban form all-male Afghan government of old guard members,” Associated Press, September 8, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-pakistan-afghanistan-arrests-islamabad-d50b1b490d27d32eb20cc11b77c12c87.

United Nations

The United Nations sanctioned Abdul Salam Hanafi Ali Mardan Qul as an individual associated with the Taliban on February 23, 2001.“ABDUL SALAM HANAFI ALI MARDAN QUL,” United Nations Security Council, February 23, 2001, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1988/materials/summaries/individual/abdul-salam-hanafi-ali-mardan-qul.

United Kingdom

The U.K. Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation sanctioned Abdul Salam Hanafi Ali Mardan Qul on April 2, 2001.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation HM Treasury, February 1, 2021, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/957420/afghanistan.pdf.

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