A wanted terrorist with a $10m US bounty on his head has been made Afghanistan’s interior minister by the Taliban.
The Taliban on Tuesday, September 7, announced an interim government in Afghanistan that excludes women and includes the head of a militant group who is wanted by the FBI.
The Taliban named Sirajuddin Haqqani interior minister. Haqqani is the head of the Haqqani Network – a US-designated terror group in Pakistan and Afghanistan with close ties to al-Qaida – and there’s a $10 million US bounty on his head.
Haqqani is accused of overseeing some of the worst atrocities of the militants’ insurgent campaign, but will now take control of a key ministry in the Taliban administration.
The FBI’s most wanted list says 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 US and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” the FBI said. “Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008.”
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the movement’s deputy leader, Yahoo News quotes The Telegraph as having reported.
The Taliban also named Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, one of the Taliban’s founders, as prime minister. He’s on a United Nations blacklist.
And Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban cofounder, has been named as deputy prime minister.
Baradar was captured in a US-Pakistani operation in 2010 and imprisoned in Pakistan until 2018. He was released under the urging of the Trump administration amid peace talks between the US and Taliban. He went on to lead the Taliban delegation in the negotiations.
Mullah Yaqoob, son of the late Taliban founder and supreme commander Mullah Omar, has been named minister of defense. And Amir Khan Muttaqi, a senior Taliban leader, was made foreign minister.
Despite vows to set up a broad-based new government, the Taliban have set out a cabinet entirely staffed by the group’s members from the Pashtun ethnic group.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday told reporters there was “no rush” for the US to formally recognize the new government in Afghanistan. Psaki said the Biden administration did not have a timeline on this matter but said the “world will be watching” the Taliban’s behavior moving forward.
The Haqqani Network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an ethnic Pashtun former Mujahideen commander who was trained and funded by the CIA in the 1980s to fight against the Soviet Union.
In the 90s after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, he joined hands with them and even served as the Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs in one of the provincial governments.
In the early 2000s, Haqqani rose through the ranks of the Taliban and was made a military commander. And during the US invasion of Afghanistan post the 9/11 attacks, Haqqani fought NATO and is believed that even helped Osama Bin Laden get away.