Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund
Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a lesser known Taliban leader who is on a UN terror list [TAi.002 - listed on 25 January 2001], was named as the Interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan on 07 September 2021. The announcement by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on September 7 in Kabul comes eight days after the United States announced the final withdrawal of US and other international forces after a nearly 20-year war against the Taliban and other anti-government elements. He emerged as a compromise candidate amid disagreements within the group.
Akhund reportedly headed the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule. He was First Deputy, Council of Ministers under the Taliban regime, Foreign Minister, Governor of Kandahar, and a Political Advisor of Mullah Mohammed Omar. By 2021 Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund was the head of the Taliban's powerful decision-making body 'Rehbari Shura', often called the Quetta Shura.
Though not a decendent of the prophet [he wears a white turban rather than a black one], according to some he is known to be more of a religious than a military leader. Said to be close to Taliban’s spiritual leader Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, he is the author of several works on Islam. Other observers viewed Akhund as more of a political than a religious figure, with his control over the leadership council also giving him a say in military affairs.
Akhund, a longtime confidant of the late Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is expected to lead day-to-day affairs of the new regime in something akin to a prime ministerial role. Akhund is one of the Taliban's most senior figures. He was a founding member of the group in the early 1990s.
By some accounts the 60-something Akhund was born approximately 1955-1958, while other sources say he was born approximately 1945-1950. He was born in Pashmul village, Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. His Pashtun lineage extends from Ahmad Shah Durrani – the founder of modern Afghanistan (circa 1700s). He does not seem to go by any other names. Akhund, who hails from Kandahar, considered the birthplace of the Taliban, was believed to have been a close associate of late spiritual leader Mullah Omar.
During the Taliban's insurgency, Akhund was a senior military commander. He also headed the Taliban's leadership council, the group's highest decision-making body, which is based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta. The EU described him as one of the "most effective Taliban commanders." Ibraheem Bahiss, an independent Afghan research analyst, says that considering Akhund's seniority and status it is not a "huge surprise" that he was appointed as the new head of government.
Akhund reportedly sanctioned the destruction of the iconic Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001, declaring it a “religious duty”. The giant standing Buddhas of the Bamiyan valley, which were 35 m and 55 m in height, were the two largest clay statues in the world. On the basis of carbon-14 dating of the plant material used in their construction, the Eastern and Western Buddhas were built in the period 544 to 595 AD and 591 and 644 AD, respectively. The earliest description of one of the Buddhas dates back to the travelogue xi you ji (“The journey to the West”) by the Chinese monk Xuanzang who came to this region in about 630 AD.
More accounts of the statues appear in texts by medieval Persian and Arab authors when Bamiyan was already Islamic and the Buddhist origin of the “idols” had been forgotten. The statues became well-known only in the 19th century when a larger number of Europeans reached Bamiyan as travellers, adventurers or members of military campaigns. The Buddha statues of Bamiyan, which were an outstanding representation of Buddhist Art in central Asian region, became well-known in the West when it was too late to save them. Disregarding international protest, the Taliban destroyed the statues during the war in Afghanistan.
Some disambiguation is needed, as there are many Taliban figures with similar names [the UN uses alpha-numeric designators for disambiguation]. Abdul Ghani Beradar, the new Deputy Prime Minister, is also known as Mullah Baradar Akhund. ABDUL BARI AKHUND was Governor of Helmand Province under the Taliban regime. ATTIQULLAH AKHUND was Deputy Minister of Agriculture under the Taliban regime. MOHAMMAD AMAN AKHUND was a senior Taliban member as at 2011 with financial duties, including raising funds on behalf of the leadership. He provided logistical support for Taliban operations and channeled proceeds from drug trafficking to arms purchases.
In June 2000 the Taliban movement was said to have bowed to international pressure and closed down three military training camps used by guerrillas linked to Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born terrorist leader. Pakistani officials claimed that Mullah Abdul Razzaq Akhund, the Taliban interior minister, had ordered their immediate closure after a visit to Pakistan.
Mullah Obaidullah Akhund served as the Taliban's defense minister prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan. In November 2001, the United States launched its first armed drone strike in Afghanistan, targeting Mullah Akhund, the Taliban’s number three in command; the attack missed him but killed several others. In early 2007 Pakistan launched attacks on training facilities and armed infiltrators, and arrested Taliban leadership figures, in particular, according to press reports, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund.
Afghan insurgents fired rockets at Kabul's international airport 09 September 2004. As many as five rockets fired in the Afghan capital Kabul fell short of their intended target, causing some damage to a couple of houses. Mullah Dadullah Akhund, a Taliban military commander, claimed responsibility for the attack. Mohammad Hassan Akhund was a prominent religious cleric [as of 2009]. He is khatib (the main speaker during Friday prayers) of the Moyi Mobarak Jamai Mosque in Kandahar Province where hair of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is said to be kept.
Afghan National Security Force and ISAF forces in a joint operation killed a known Taliban leader in the Now Zad district of Helmand province 12 July 2008. Mullah Bismullah Akhund was a senior Taliban leader responsible for supplying weapons and IEDs that have killed civilians and ISAF forces in northern Helmand.
A power struggle emerged following the July 2015 announcement of the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar (in 2013), when Mullah Mansour was appointed as the new Taliban leader. The Taliban continues to face group cohesion challenges. Evidence suggests an opposing faction was created under Mullah Mohammed Rasool Akhund, with reported clashes between their rival loyalists.
Mullah Mohammed Abbas Akhund [TAi.066], acting public health minister for the Taliban in Afghanistan, made a trip to Japan in July 1997 at the invitation of the Japanese government. Speaking in an interview at a Tokyo hotel, he said a report that a Taliban leader was planning to destroy the world's tallest statue of Buddha, in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, was due to a BBC reporter's misunderstanding.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|