Rarely Visible Taliban Leader at Large Gathering in Kabul

Afghan Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada is in person at a large gathering of clerics in the capital, Kabul.


Akhundzada hardly ever comes into the public eye and lives very withdrawn in the southern city of Kandahar. He has been virtually unseen since the Taliban’s Sunni extremists took power in August last year. His near-permanent absence has fueled rumours that he may have died or been sidelined.

Akhundzada is the facto head of state of the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ as the country is called according to the Taliban. And he has been the supreme leader of the Taliban movement since 2016.

On Friday, he attended a meeting of 3,000 chiefs and clerics in the capital Kabul, a government spokesman said. The special meeting is called the Great Council (Loya Jirga), where the leaders of the Pashtun or Pashtun peoples make important decisions.

The population is the largest in the country with 40 percent of Afghans. The Taliban are a predominantly Pashtun movement.

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