Taliban Rejects Speculations Its Deputy PM Mullah Baradar Died, Releases Video
09:08 GMT 13.09.2021 (Updated: 18:02 GMT 08.12.2022)
The Taliban* last week slammed the US after the Pentagon said that members of the terrorist outfit Haqqani Network, including Afghanistan’s new interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, were still on a Washington hit list. A United Nations (UN) report has expressed fears over the Haqqani Network’s links to terror outfits such as Al-Qaeda* and Daesh*.
The Taliban on Monday released a video that the Islamist group claimed was of its co-founder and deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, as it rejected speculations that he had been killed recently.
One of the Taliban’s officials claimed that the video was taken in Kandahar.
The Taliban's spokesperson also took to Twitter to reject "baseless speculation" about Baradar's death.
The video was released a day after Afghan media reported that Baradar was alive, as it cited a statement signed by Baradar and released to a Kabul-based media organisation.
Meanwhile, a Taliban official has also claimed that Baradar is alive.
“Rumours of his death are being spread by propagandists who don’t want the Islamic Emirate to succeed,” said a spokesperson for the Commission of Indigent, Orphans and Disabled.
The Taliban official, however, refused to confirm if the signature at the end of the letter was indeed that of Baradar. He also said that the letter was written by Baradar's aide.
The claims of Baradar’s death have been fuelled in the wake of the visit of Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed, the chief of Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to Kabul on 4 September.
4 September 2021, 12:19 GMT
According to a report in Panjshir Observer, Baradar sustained wounds during a violent confrontation with members of the Haqqani Network in Kabul on 3 September.
Members of the Haqqani Network, designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the US, have been nominated for key roles in the new cabinet unveiled last week. The newly-appointed interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the Haqqani Network
, has a $10 million bounty on his head.
In a leaked audio that surfaced over the weekend, a voice believed to be that of Taliban’s new deputy defence minister Mullah Fazel is heard complaining that a ‘Punjabi’ kept the Taliban from forming an “inclusive government”, as per Indian website CNN-News18
The ‘Punjabi’ reference is believed to be an allusion to the Pakistani spy chief who was in Kabul earlier.
In the clipping, Fazel also laments the fact that Hameed lobbied for members of the Haqqani Network to be included in the new cabinet, announced after the Pakistani spy chief concluded his Afghanistan visit.
Before Hameed’s Kabul trip, Baradar was widely tipped to be the next Prime Minister of the Taliban cabinet, as per Taliban officials cited by western media organisations such as New York Times and Reuters.
29 August 2021, 08:15 GMT
Mullah Hasan Akhund, a lesser-known leader, has been named as Afghanistan’s new Prime Minister in the cabinet announced by the Taliban.
Baradar has been identified as a “moderate” within the Taliban leadership and led the group’s negotiations with the US during the ‘Doha Deal’ of February 2020. The Haqqani Network, on the other hand, were said to be against negotiating with the US, as per a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report released in June this year.
*The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.