On August 15, 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban jihadi organization) seized power in Afghanistan. On September 7, it announced an interim government, declaring a list of 32 acting ministers and the prime minister. Two weeks later, on September 21, the jihadi group released a second list of 16 acting ministers. As of September 24, the Taliban ministers have not been sworn in, but they have taken up their ministerial positions and are enforcing their orders.
At least 14 of the 33 ministers whose names were announced on September 7 are on the United Nations Security Council’s terrorism blacklist, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund and both of his deputies – Mullah Baradar Akhund and Mawlavi Hanafi. Defense Minister Mullah Yaqoob, Foreign Minister Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi, and Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai are also designated terrorists under the UN Security Council’s 1988 Sanctions Committee.
In the Taliban government set-up, the most influential man is Sirajuddin Haqqani – the new interior minister who remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. The FBI website, listing Sirajuddin Haqqani on its Most Wanted page, notes: “Sirajuddin Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen. He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008.”
Sirajuddin Haqqani carries a reward of $10 million. In February 2021, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Afghan Taliban’s operational chief and major terror mastermind, delivered a major speech to a gathering of jihadi terror commanders where he, fearing that the U.S. could rescind the Doha agreement, issued a sharp warning to America: “[After 9/11] we fought them with faith and with weaker military strength. Today we have both. We have the technology to use drones, we have our own missiles. This time if the mujahideen resume fighting, it would be something they have never seen before. They will wish the battlefield was like in the past.”
According to a media report, the first list of 33 ministers included four of the five jihadi leaders known as the “Taliban Five” who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay prison: Mullah Mohammad Fazil (deputy defense minister), Khairullah Khairkhah (information and culture minister), Mullah Noorullah Noori (borders and tribal affairs minister), and Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq (Director of Intelligence), while the fifth member, Mohammad Nabi Omari, was appointed as the Taliban’s governor of Khost province.
The Taliban Five leaders were freed from Guantanamo Bay prison in 2014 in exchange for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl who wandered away from his camp in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. The first contacts to negotiate his freedom by the U.S. became the earliest seeds of talks and later peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The following profiles of the Taliban ministers are prepared from a September 8 report by the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), a pro-Taliban news agency that for years functioned from the Pakistani city of Peshawar:
- Acting Prime Minister: Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund
A member of Babar tribe, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund hails from Arghandab District of Kandahar province. During the 1996-2001 Taliban government, he served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He is around 65 years old, is one of the founding members of the Taliban movement, and is a close aide of Mullah Mohammad Omar.
He was a member of the jihad party led by the late Maulvi Mohammad Khalis during the jihad against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and was a member and acting head of the Taliban Leadership Council after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001. Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund is on the UN sanction list.
- Acting First Deputy PM: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is a native of Dehrawad district of Uruzgan province. He is around 65 years old and belongs to the Popalzai tribe. He was a member of Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi’s jihad party during the jihad against the former Soviet Union in the 1980s. He was a frontline commander in the 1996-2001 Taliban government.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is a well-known Taliban leader who was brought from prison in Pakistan to Doha where he led the negotiations with the U.S., resulting in the signing of the Doha agreement on February 29, 2020. He was a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001 and was later appointed as deputy emir of the jihadi organization. His name is also on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Second Deputy PM: Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi
Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi is an ethnic Uzbek, hailing from Jowzjan province’s Darzab district. He is 50 years old and was director of education and training in Farah and Kabul provinces during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He also served as the acting minister of education and training during that time.
Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi was the Taliban governor for Jowzjan province after the 2001 fall of Taliban government and a member of the Leadership Council. Hanafi also remained a member and deputy head of the Taliban’s Political Office in Doha, Qatar. He is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Minister Of The Interior: Sirajuddin Haqqani
Sirajuddin Haqqani is the son of the well-known jihadi leader, the late Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the group of loyalist jihadis whom the U.S. declared the Haqqani Network. He is known as khalifa (“caliph”), is the main terror mastermind among the Taliban leaders, and is considered chief of the Haqqani Network, though the Islamic Emirate has said that there is no organization by that name.
Sirajuddin Haqqani belongs to the Zadran tribe and hails from the Shamal area of Paktiya province. His father was a member of Maulvi Younus Khalis’s jihadi party during the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. His father Jalaluddin Haqqani was a minister of border affairs during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. Sirajuddin Haqqani is one of the deputy emirs of the Islamic Emirate. He is on the UN sanctions list. The U.S. State Department has announced a reward of $10 million for information leading directly to his arrest. He does not allow his photos to appear in public.
Sirajuddin Haqqani-led Haqqani Network is accused of launching major attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other NATO targets in Afghanistan. In September 2011, Mike Mullen, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – whose arms include the Haqqani Network – was behind major terror attacks on U.S. and NATO targets. Admiral Mullen said in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “With ISI support, Haqqani [Network] operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy [in Kabul]”; “We also have credible evidence that they were behind the June 28th attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations”; “The Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.”
- Acting Minister Of Defense: Mullah Yaqoob Mujahid
Mullah Yaqoob Mujahid is the son of the Taliban’s founding father Mullah Mohammad Omar. He is around 30 years old and a native of Uruzgan province. His family lived in Kandahar. Mullah Yaqoob belongs to Hottak tribe.
Mullah Yaqoob Mujahid was head of the Islamic Emirate’s Military Commission and second deputy emir under the Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. He graduated from an Islamic seminary in Pakistan’s Karachi city.
- Acting Minister Of Foreign Affairs: Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi
A resident of Helmand province’s Nad Ali district, Mullah Amir Muttaqi originally hails from the Zurmat district of Paktiya province and belongs to Katwazi tribe. He was a member of Maulvi Mohammadi’s jihadi party during the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s. He served as minister of information and culture during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He also served as minister of education and training during that time.
Mullah Amir Muttaqi was member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council after the 2001 fall of the Taliban, head of the Culture Commission. He was also a member of the Taliban negotiation team for intra-Afghan talks in Qatar. Mullah Amir Muttaqi represented the Taliban in talks with the UN during the 1996-2001 Taliban government and is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Army Chief Of Staff: Qari Fasihuddin
Qari Fasihuddin is a native of Badakhshan province. He is a Tajik by ethnicity. He was the Taliban’s governor for Badakhshan province. He led the Taliban fighters in the recent war against the anti-Taliban resistance front led by Ahmad Massoud in the Panjshir Valley.
Qari Fasihuddin has also served as the deputy chief of the Islamic Emirate’s Military Commission and as zonal deputy chief during the war against the U.S. He was member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council.
- Acting Minister for Refugees Affairs: Haji Khalilur Rahman Haqqani
Khalilur Rahman Haqqani is the uncle of Sirajuddin Haqqani and brother of former of jihadi commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of Haqqani Network. He is certainly among the most influential members of the Taliban ministry.
Khalilur Rahman Haqqani was handling the financial affairs of the Haqqani Network. He was recently the head of the Afghan refugee affairs council in Pakistan. He is also on the UN sanctions list. The U.S. State Department has announced a reward of $5 million for information leading directly to his arrest.
- Acting Finance Minister: Mullah Hedayatullah Badari
Mullah Hedayatullah Badari’s original name is Mullah Gul Agha Akhund. He was a close aide and personal guard and accountant of Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban. He was appointed head of the Taliban’s Finance Commission during the U.S.’s Afghanistan War.
Mullah Hedayatullah Badari is a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council, hails from Maywand district of Kandahar, belongs to the Ishaqzai tribe, and is around 50 years old.
- Acting Education Minister: Maulvi Noorullah Munir
Maulvi Noorullah Munir aka Sheikh Noorullah is a member of the Andar tribe and hails from Andar district of Ghazni province. He was in charge of the Taliban’s shari’a courts and is known as a strong religious scholar among the Taliban. Maulvi Noorullah Munir is 48 years old.
- Acting Minister Of Higher Education: Abdul Baqi Haqqani
Maulvi Abdul Baqi Haqqani hails from Sandok village of Achin district in Nangarhar province. He belongs to the Shinwari tribe and is on the UN sanctions list. Maulvi Abdul Baqi Haqqani graduated from Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa at Akhora Khattak in Pakistan, a madrassa widely known for producing jihadis over the past four decades.
He was the Taliban’s governor of Khost and Paktika provinces in the 1996-2001 Taliban government. During that regime, he also served as minister for martyrs and disabled affairs and deputy minister for information and culture, as well as the head of consulates in Kabul. He has been a teacher of political science at Kabul University.
- Acting Minister of Justice: Abdul Hakim Sharie
Abdul Hakim Sharie is the member of the Islamic Emirate’s Leadership Council and has spent time in jail in Saudi Arabia.
- Acting Minister of Economy: Qari Din Mohammad Hanif
A native of Yaftali Safli district in Badakhshan province, 58-year-old Qari Din Mohammad Hanif is an ethnic Tajik. He was a minister of planning and higher education during the 1996-2001 Taliban government.
Qari Din Mohammad Hanif was the Taliban’s shadow governor for Badakhshan province after 9/11, was a member of the Leadership Council during that time, and is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Minister Of Information And Culture: Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah is around 60 years old. He is a native of Arghistan district in Kandahar province. He belongs to the Popalzai tribe and was associated with Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi and Maulvi Younas Khalis’s jihadi fronts during the jihad against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah was interior minister and governor of Kabul under the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He was jailed in Guantanamo Bay and released in a prisoner swap. Khairkhah is a member of the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar and is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Minister of Dawat-ul-Irshad: Sheikh Mohammad Khalid
Sheikh Mohammad Khalid is acting minister for Dawat-ul-Irshad (“Invitation To Islam”) and Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar (“Requirement To Enjoin Good And Forbid Evil”). His innocuous-sounding ministry could become more powerful in the coming days due to its theological mission and the Taliban objective of enforcing shari’a-based rules in society.
The Dawat-ul-Irshad department of the Taliban has in recent years worked to recruit police and soldiers into the jihadi ranks. More broadly the concept after which the department is named means inviting non-Muslims to accept Islam, or follow the Islamic rules for non-Muslim minorities such as paying the jizya, a tax on non-Muslims. Theologically, his department could, for example, begin lashing men for shaving their beards, or lashing anyone for playing music.
Sheikh Mohammad Khalid is a resident of Doab district of Nuristan province and brother of Maulvi Rustam Hanafi, who was the deputy minister for public works during the 1996-2001 Taliban government.
- Acting Minister Of Borders And Tribal Affairs: Mullah Noorullah Noori
The 50-year-old Mullah Noorullah Noori hails from Zabul province’s Shajoyee district. He was the member of Maulvi Mohammadi-led party in the 1980s jihad against the Soviet Union. He spent 13 years in the U.S. detention in Guantanamo Bay and became a member of the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar after his release. He is a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council and was a peace negotiator.
During the 1996-2001 Taliban government, Mullah Noorullah Noori was the governor for governor Laghman, Baghlan, and Balkh provinces. He was also head of the administrative affairs for the northern region.
- Acting Minister Of Public Work: Mullah Abdul Manan Omari
Abdul Manan Omari is the stepbrother of the Taliban’s founding father Mullah Mohammad Omar. He was the head of the Taliban’s Commissions for Dawat-ul-Irshad, recruitment, and civilian casualties during the past decade.
- Acting Minister Of Hajj: Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqib
The 50-year-old Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqib is a native of Tashqurghan in Samangan province. He belongs to the Daulatzai Koch tribe and was a member of Maulvi Mohammad Younus Khalis’s jihadi party during the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s.
Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqib was educated in Pakistan. He served as the chief justice during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He was also the head of the Taliban’s education and training commission in recent years. Saqib is a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council and is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Minister Of Rural Rehabilitation And Development: Mullah Mohammad Younus Akhundzada
Mullah Mohammad Younus Akhundzada is a native of Shah Walikot district of Kandahar province. He was general in-charge of uplift projects, NGOs, and companies in the Taliban movement in recent years.
Mullah Mohammad Younus Akhundzada served as a military commander during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He also worked as deputy commander of army corps in Kandahar and as provincial police chief in Kabul.
- Acting Minister of Civil Aviation and Transport: Mullah Hamidullah Akhundzada
Hailing from Kandahar province, Mullah Hamidullah Akhundzada was head of Ariana Airlines during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He worked as deputy head and was in charge of the Intelligence Commission after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001. He was also in charge of the military training centers during the war against American forces.
- Acting Minister of Telecommunications: Maulvi Najibullah Haqqani
A native of Kunar province, Maulvi Najibullah served as deputy minister for interior affairs and as information and culture minister during the first Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
- Acting Minister Of Mines And Petroleum: Mullah Mohammad Esa Akhund
Mullah Mohammad Esa Akhund is the resident of Spin Boldak District, Kandahar province, and belongs to Noorzai tribe. He was the member of Maulvi Mohammad Younas Khalis jihadi party in the jihad against the Soviet Union. He is around 60 years old, was minister water and power in the 1996-2001 Taliban government, and is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Minister Of Water And Energy: Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor
Hailing from Zurmat district of Paktiya province, Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor is the nephew of former jihadi leader Maulvi Nasrullah Mansoor and was appointed governor of Paktia province after the death of his uncle during the Prof. Rabbani-led transitional government in the 1990s. He served as deputy governor of Helmand province, mayor of Kandahar, and as minister of agriculture and livestock during the previous Taliban government. His name is on the UN sanctions list.
Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor was the Taliban’s shadow governor for Paktia, Nangarhar, and Logar provinces during the jihad against the U.S. and also served as head of the Taliban’s Political Commission for a brief period. Mansoor served more recently as head of the Agriculture Commission and is member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council. He was a member of the Taliban’s negotiating team in Qatar.
- Defense Deputy Minister: Mullah Mohammad Fazil Mazloom
The 56-year-old Mullah Mohammad Fazil Mazloom belongs to the Kakar tribe and is a resident of Charchino district of Uruzgan province. He was a member of Maulvi Younas Khalis’s jihadi party during the jihad against Soviet Union in the 1980s. In the previous Taliban government, he served as army chief and deputy defense minister.
Mullah Mohammad Fazil Mazloom also sent 13 years in Guantanamo Bay detention center. He became a member of the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar after his release from Guantanamo. He is also a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council. Mazloom is on the UN sanctions list.
- Deputy Foreign Minister: Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai hails from the Barak-e-Barak district of Logar province. An ethnic Stanikzai Pashtun, he is around 62 years old, received military training in India’s Dehradun Military Academy during President Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan’s rule (1973-78) in Afghanistan, and is on the UN sanctions list.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai was associated with the jihadi parties of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, Prof. Abu Sayyaf, and Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi during the 1980s jihad against the Soviet Union. He was deputy minister of foreign affairs and general health during the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He was a member of the Taliban’s Political Commission and was deputy head and head of the Political Office in Qatar. He is a member of the Taliban’s Leadership Council.
- Acting Director of Intelligence: Abdul Haq Wasiq
Abdul Haq Wasiq is a native of Khugyani district in Ghazni province. He is around 50 years old. During the first Taliban rule, he was director of culture in Nimroz province, police chief in Kandahar, deputy intelligence chief, and acting intelligence chief.
He spent 12 years in the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay and was freed in 2014 along with other Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of U.S. soldier Berge Bowe Dahl. He was later appointed as a member of the Islamic Emirate’s Political Office in Qatar and became a member of the negotiations team. It is said that he is a cousin of the Taliban’s intelligence chief in the previous Taliban government Qari Ahmadullah. He is also on the UN sanctions list.
- First Deputy Of Intelligence Department: Mullah Tajmir Jawwad
Mullah Tajmir Jawwad was director of intelligence in Nangahar province during the 1996-2001 Taliban government and was in charge of providing equipment and resources to suicide bombers during the post-9/11 war against U.S.-led forces. It is said that he injured both of his eyes when his own bomb exploded.
- Acting Director of the Central Bank: Haji Mohammad Idrees
Haji Mohammad Idrees’s original name is Maulvi Abdul Qaher. He hails from Jowzjan province. He worked in the Taliban’s Finance Commission. He has worked along with the Taliban’s deputy emir Maulvi Yaqoob.
- Acting Director Of The Administrative Office Of The President: Ahmad Jan Ahmadi
Maulvi Ahmad Jan Ahmadi aka Bilal worked in the office of the Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar during the last years of the 1996-2001 Taliban government. He also served in Herat province.
Subsequently, Maulvi Ahmad Jan Ahmadi has worked as head of the office of the Taliban’s current emir Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada in the past few years. Ahmadi hails from the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province.
- Acting Deputy Interior Minister: Mawlawi Noor Jalal
Mawlawi Noor Jalal is a native of Kunar province and was deputy interior minister and governor of Paktiya in the previous Taliban government. In the war against the U.S., he was the Taliban’s shadow governor for Nangarhar province. His name is on the UN sanctions list.
- Acting Deputy Information And Culture Minister: Zabihullah Mujahid
Zabihullah Mujahid, currently the best-known face of the Taliban, has been one of the main Taliban spokesmen over the past few decades, writing his messages anonymously. Now, he has been appointed as the deputy minister of information and culture. Mujahid is a resident of Baldah village near Gardez city, capital of Paktika province.
Zabihullah Mujahid belongs to Khwaja tribe. His father’s name is Mohammad Zaher Shah. The 43-year-old Mujahid received both religious and modern education and a master’s degree in Islamic fiqh (“jurisprudence”). He worked as an ordinary member in the previous Taliban rule.
He wrote articles in the Dari section of the Taliban’s magazine Sarak and became the Taliban spokesman after the arrest of former Taliban spokesman Dr. Mohammad Hanif. He was also appointed as head of the Culture Commission of the Islamic Emirate in 2017 and served on both the posts simultaneously. He was once detained and spent time in jail.
- Administrative Deputy Of Intelligence Department: Mullah Rahmatullah Najeeb
Mullah Rahmatullah Najeeb worked in the Taliban’s military section. He also worked as a district governor in Balkh province during the 1996-2001 Taliban government and was appointed shadow governor for Ghazni and Logar provinces after the fall of the Taliban government. He hails from the city of Ghazni in Ghazni province and has worked as an intelligence official in the Taliban ranks.
- Deputy Interior Minister for Counter Narcotics: Mullah Abdul Haq Akhund
Mullah Abdul Haq Akhund was police chief during the previous Taliban rule in Afghanistan and later worked as a public health official in the ranks of the Taliban. Akhund is a resident of Nish district of Kandahar province.
Following is a list of the second batch of acting ministers announced by the Taliban:
- Haji Nooruddin Azizi, acting minister of commerce
- Haji Mohammad Bashir, deputy minister commerce
- Haji Mohammad Azim Sultanzada, deputy minister of commerce
- Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health
- Abdulbari Omar, deputy minister of public health
- Mohammad Hassan Ghiasi, deputy minister of public health
- Mullah Mohammad Ibrahim, deputy minister of interior affairs for security
- Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, deputy minister of defense
- Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, acting head of the National Olympic Committee
- Mujiburrahman Omar, deputy minister of energy and water
- Ghulam Ghaws, deputy minister of disasters management
- Mohammad Faqir, acting chairman of Central Statistics Authority
- Haji Gul Mohammad, deputy minister borders and tribal affairs
- Gul Zarin Kochai, deputy minister of borders and tribal affairs
- Arsala Kharoti, deputy minister of refugees and repatriation affairs
- Lotfullah Khairkhwa, deputy minister of higher education
- Najibullah, director of the Nuclear Energy Department