An audio recording of the regime’s number one has been released, a first since his appointment in 2016. There are no photos of him.
Reading time : 1 min.
He comes out (a little) from the shadows. The invisible “supreme leader” of the Taliban, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, whose public appearance had never been formalized since his appointment in 2016, took part on Saturday, October 30 in a ceremony in Kandahar (southern Afghanistan). “The Commander of the Believers, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, made an appearance at a large gathering at the famous madrassa Hakimiya and spoke for ten minutes to the valiant soldiers and disciples.”, the Taliban government announced in a message on Sunday, audio recording in support.
In this distributed audio clip, the mullah can be heard very indistinctly reciting prayers and blessings. According to a local AFP source, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada arrived at this Koranic school in Kandahar with a convoy of two cars under very high security and no photographs were allowed. After being silent for a long time about his whereabouts, the Taliban announced in September that Hibatullah Akhundzada was alive “from the beginning” in Kandahar and that he would appear “soon in public”.
Until he succeeded Mansour in 2016 who was killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan, Akhundzada was relatively unknown, more involved in judicial and religious matters than in military maneuvers. After coming to power, Mullah Akhundzada quickly won the loyalty of Egyptian Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, who called him“emir of the believers”, thus strengthening its credibility in the jihadist and Sunni universe.
In its function of “supreme leader”Akhundzada is responsible for maintaining unity within the Islamist movement, a complex mission as the internal struggles that have fractured the jihadist movement for years persist since their return to power in mid-August.