The uncompromising fundamentalists in the new government indicate that there will be no kinder, gentler new Taliban.
Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme leader, is an avid proponent of the suicide bomb. His own son blew himself up in Helmand Province in 2017. Mullah Mohammad Hassan, now the de facto acting prime minister, was foreign minister and then deputy prime minister in the last Taliban regime.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting minister of the interior, has a $10 million F.B.I. bounty on his head and leads the Haqqani network, which is tied to Al Qaeda and designated by the State Department as a terrorist group.
Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub, the acting defense minister, is the eldest son of the one-eyed Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founding leader, who died in 2013.
Four of the “Guantánamo Five,” who were freed by the Obama administration in exchange for the American captured soldier Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, have senior government positions. The fifth is a provincial governor.
Their records speak for themselves. Mullah Mohammed Fazl, who spent 12 years at Guantánamo, will resume his role as deputy defense minister. In 2001, he was behind a fake surrender at Qala Jangi that led to the death of a C.I.A. officer, Mike Spann, America’s first casualty after the Sept. 11 attacks. Mullah Fazl, who came of age during the mujahedeen jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s, commanded 10,000 Taliban and a substantial number of Qaeda troops in 2001. His nickname, Mazloom, which means “meek” or “oppressed,” is grimly ironic.
Mullah Fazl and Mullah Norullah Noori, the new minister of borders and tribal affairs, are believed to have orchestrated the massacre of thousands of minority Shiites when the Taliban were last in power. Abdul Haq Wasiq, the new intelligence chief, has been accused of being closely connected to Al Qaeda. Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, now minister of information and culture, was described in a leaked U.S. military document as “one of the major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan” and as a Taliban envoy to Iranian-backed terrorist groups. Mohammad Nabi Omari, the new governor of Khost, is suspected to be a leader of the Haqqani network.