Taliban Announces Interim Afghan Government Comprised Of Hardliners, Known Terrorists

(New York, N.Y.) — On Tuesday, the Taliban announced the formation of an interim government for Afghanistan, filling top posts with hardiners from their rule in the 1990s and veterans of the 20-year war against the U.S.-led coalition. The lineup of senior cabinet positions, which includes former detainees at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, members of the U.S.-designated Haqqani network, and subjects of an international sanctions lists, presents the first snapshot of how the Taliban intends to lead Afghanistan.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the U.S. State Department and FBI, will serve as acting minister of the interior—a role in which he will have extensive authority over policing and legal matters. It is unclear if Haqqani will retain his position as the operational commander of the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terror organization aligned with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Additionally, Sirajuddin has served as the deputy emir of the Taliban since 2015. He is wanted by U.S. authorities for planning a 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including American citizen Thor David Hesla. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Haqqani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 on March 11, 2008.

Other U.S. SDGTs and U.N. Security Council-designated individuals are also serving in leadership positions of the Taliban government. Self-appointed chief of security for Kabul and acting minister for refugees Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011. Co-deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar was sanctioned by the Security Council in the months preceding the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Many of the all-male Taliban government are veterans of the group’s hardline movement in the early nineties. Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada—who served as the head of the sharia courts in the 1990s and held the role of the Taliban’s top religious leader since 2016—was named the supreme leader. The post of acting defense minister is now held by Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob, the oldest son of Taliban founder Mullah Muhammad Omar. Yaqoob is also head of the Taliban’s military commission, which oversees the group’s military activities in Afghanistan.

To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s Sirajuddin Haqqani resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani resource, please click here

To read CEP’s Mohammad Yaqoob resource, please click here

To read CEP’s Abdul Ghani Baradar resource, please click here

To read CEP’s Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada resource, please click here

To read CEP’s Afghanistan resource, please click here

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On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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