The Taliban has declared Afghanistan is now an “Islamic Emirate”, unveiling its new caretaker government which includes an FBI wanted terrorist with a US$5 million bounty on his head.
The new entirely male cabinet was announced at a press conference in Kabul, three weeks after the Taliban seized control of the country.
The top posts have been given to a number of senior Taliban figures from previous regimes, who helped the group sweep to military victory as US-led foreign forces withdrew and the weak western-backed government collapsed.
Internal struggles reportedly delayed the formation of a new government twice with the new appointments coming after “deep, deep consultation with the elders”, according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Taliban claims the new government is only “acting” and not “final”.
The country has also been renamed the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,’ the same title used when the Taliban brutally ruled in the 1990s.
The announcement came hours after the Taliban reportedly fired warning shots into the air to disperse crowds at a large protest in Kabul.
Harrowing footage from the scene shows members of the group holding guns and threatening women, as people run to safety.
The key controversial appointments
Acting prime minister
One of the movement's founders, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund will lead the new government as prime minister.
He is on a UN sanctions report, which describes him as a "close associate and political adviser" to the movement's reclusive first leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Acting deputy prime minister
Abdul Ghani Baradar was the deputy defence minister when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan.
He later served as a senior military commander notorious for attacks on coalition forces.
After eight years in prison, he headed the Taliban's political office in Doha, becoming one of the most prominent figures in peace talks with the United States.
Acting interior minister
One of the FBI’s most wanted men, Sirajuddin Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani network and described as a “global terrorist”.
Unlike the wider Taliban, the Haqqani network has been named a foreign terrorist organisation by the US and maintains close ties to al-Qaeda.
It’s been blamed for some harrowing attacks in the country’s long war, including a truck bomb explosion in Kabul which killed more than 150 people.
The UN Sanctions Committee has also said the group, based in the lawless frontier areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, has close involvement in drugs production and trade.
Haqqani has a $6.8 million bounty on his head.
Taliban showing its true face. Longtime top deputy Sarajuddin Haqqani, the head of the designated terrorist Haqqani Network that was behind many deadly attacks, including the 2008 Kabul hotel bombing that killed an American, will be the new interior minister of Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/JKlrAFp65X
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) September 7, 2021
Acting deputy information minister
Zabihullah Mujahid is the long-time spokesman for the Taliban. For more than a decade been the key conduit for information on the group's activities, regularly posting details of suicide attacks through his Twitter account.
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