Hibatullah Akhundzada

Hibatullah Akhundzada
هبت الله اخندزاده
Hibatullah Akhundzada.jpg
Akhundzada in the 1990s, according to the Taliban[1]
3rd Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Assumed office
(as head of state of Afghanistan)[a]

15 August 2021
Prime MinisterHasan Akhund (acting)
Preceded byAshraf Ghani (as President)
Assumed office
25 May 2016
Acting: 21–25 May 2016
Deputy
Preceded byAkhtar Mansour
First Deputy Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[6]
In office
29 July 2015 – 25 May 2016
LeaderAkhtar Mansour
Preceded byAkhtar Mansour
Succeeded bySirajuddin Haqqani[7]
2nd Chief Justice of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
In office
c. 2001 – 25 May 2016
LeaderMohammed Omar
Akhtar Mansoor
Preceded byNoor Mohammad Saqib
Succeeded byAbdul Hakim Ishaqzai
Justice on the Supreme Court of Afghanistan
In office
c. 1996 – c. 2001
LeaderMullah Omar
Chief Justice of the Kandahar Appellate Court
In office
c. 1995 – c. 2001
LeaderMullah Omar
Personal details
BornPanjwayi District, Afghanistan
Residence(s)Kandahar
EthnicityPashtun
ReligionSunni Islam
MovementDeobandi[8]
Political affiliationTaliban
Military service
AllegianceIslamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Branch/serviceAfghan mujahideen (Before 1992)
Islamic Army of Afghanistan (1996–2001)
RankJudicial officer
Commands
  • Justice on the Military Court for Kandahar
  • Chief Justice of the Military Court for Eastern Nangarhar
  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Military Court
Battles/warsSoviet–Afghan War
Afghan Civil War (1996–2001)
War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)

Hibatullah Akhundzada,[b] also spelled Haibatullah Akhunzada,[c] is an Afghan Islamic scholar, cleric, and jurist who is the third and current leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban), serving since 2016. Since the 2021 fall of Kabul, this position has made him Afghanistan's de facto ruler and head of state. However, he has remained a reclusive figure, and his low profile has fueled speculations about his role in the new Taliban government, and rumours that he may be dead.[12][13][14][15] Except for an undated photograph, and several audio recordings of speeches, he has almost no digital footprint.[16][17]

The Taliban call him the Amir al-Mu'minin (lit.'Commander of the Faithful'), which was the title of his two predecessors.[18] Akhundzada is well known for his fatwas on Taliban matters. He served as the Islamic judge of the Sharia courts of the 1996–2001 Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Unlike many Taliban leaders, he is not of a militant background. He was elected as the leader of the Taliban in May 2016, following the death of the previous leader, Akhtar Mansour, in a US drone strike in Pakistan.

His government has been criticized for restricting human rights in Afghanistan, including the right of women and girls to work and education. The Taliban administration has prevented most teenage girls from returning to secondary school education. However, in a rare appearance in July 2022 at a religious gathering in Kabul, Akhundzada lashed out at the demands of the international community on his government, ruling out any talks or compromise on his "Islamic system" of governance.[19][17][20]

  1. ^ "Dead or alive? On the trail of the Taliban's supreme leader". Agence France-Presse. Kandahar. France 24. 12 March 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2022. The Taliban have released just one photograph of Akhundzada – five years ago, when he took the group's reins. And even that photo, depicting him with a grey beard, white turban and a forceful gaze, was taken two decades prior, according to the Taliban.
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference BBC-36377008 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Sieff, Kevin (15 August 2021). "The Taliban has retaken control of Afghanistan. Here's what that looked like last time". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  4. ^ Mellen, Ruby (3 September 2021). "The Taliban has decided on its government. Here's who could lead the organization". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  5. ^ Faulkner, Charlie (3 September 2021). "Spiritual leader is Afghanistan's head of state — with bomb suspect set to be PM". The Times. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  6. ^ Sofuoglu, Murat (27 September 2021). "How the Taliban governs itself". TRT World. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  7. ^ Jones, Seth G. (December 2020). "Afghanistan's Future Emirate? The Taliban and the Struggle for Afghanistan". CTC Sentinel. Combating Terrorism Center. 13 (11). Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  8. ^ Siddique, Abubakar (7 September 2021). "Who Is Haibatullah Akhundzada, The Taliban's 'Supreme Leader' Of Afghanistan?". Gandhara. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  9. ^ Rahimi, Giti (31 October 2021). "Islamic Emirate's Leader Appears in Kandahar: Officials". TOLOnews (in Pashto). Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Hibatullah Akhundzada reiterates his commitment to amnesty". The Killid Group (in Pashto). 22 November 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  11. ^ "د ملا هيبت الله خبرداری: صفونه مو له نفوذي افرادو پاک کړئ". Deutsche Welle Pashto (in Pashto). 4 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Taliban supreme leader urges world to recognise government". France 24. 29 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. Akhundzada, believed to be in his 70s, has been the spiritual leader of the hardline Islamist movement since 2016, but has remained in the shadows despite the Taliban enjoying largely uncontested power. His absence from public life has fed speculation he may be dead and his edicts the product of a committee.
  13. ^ "Taliban supreme leader makes rare appearance to mark Eid al-Fitr". Al Jazeera. 1 May 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. Akhunzada’s low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government – formed after the armed group took control of Kabul on August 15 – and even rumours of his death. Akhunzada, believed to be in his 70s, has been the spiritual leader of the Taliban since 2016. He succeeded Mullah Akhtar Mansoor who was killed in a US drone strike inside Pakistan. His public profile has largely been limited to the release of messages during Islamic holidays, and Akhunzada is believed to spend most of his time in Kandahar.
  14. ^ "Taliban supreme leader makes first public appearance in Afghanistan". France 24. 31 October 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2022. Akhundzada has been the spiritual chief of the Islamist movement since 2016 but has remained a reclusive figure, even after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. His low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government, formed after the group took control of Kabul in mid-August -- and even rumours of his death.
  15. ^ Cite error: The named reference dw1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  16. ^ Cite error: The named reference alj was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  17. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference y2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ "Statement by the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate regarding the martyrdom of Amir ul Mumineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and the election of the new leader". Voice of Jihad (Press release). Taliban. 25 May 2016. Archived from the original on 28 May 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  19. ^ Cite error: The named reference voa2022 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  20. ^ Cite error: The named reference tg was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


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