Who is the leader of the Taliban?

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The Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan by US-led forces in 2001. But now a decade on, the party has taken control of the country once again prompting a mass evacuation of refugees desperately seeking safety for themselves and their families.

The Taliban has declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its Government after taking the nation’s capital over the weekend.

The amnesty announcement came after a day of chaos which saw citizens descend on the airport en masse in a bid to flee their rule.

The Islamist militant group gained control in the wake of the removal of US troops from the country.

Afghanistan’s leader fled the country and the Taliban seized Kabul, entering the presidential palace on Sunday.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said there is a gap between those running the previous Government and the people of Afghanistan.

Mr Shaheen told Sky News: “We want what the people want. Our demands are similar.

“Our culture is similar. Everything is similar. We are closer to the people rather than them.”

He added: “We have huge natural resources. We have very hard-working people.

“We hope and we believe in our people and their capacities.”

Who are the Taliban?

The Taliban are a group of former Afghan resistance fighters, known collectively as the Mujahideen.

They fought the invading Soviet forces in the 1980s and aimed to impose their interpretation of Islamic law on the country.

The Taliban’s reign from 1996 to 2001 was brutal, punctuated by extreme religious mandates, public executions and severely restricted liberties for women and girls.

The September 11, 2001, attack was orchestrated by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who operated from inside of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Few who ruled in 2001 are alive or in power now – which leaves a legacy of uncertainty surrounding the group now.

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Who is the leader of the Taliban?

The Taliban’s main leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada who was head of the Taliban High Court for several years until he became deputy leader of the group after Mullah Omar died.

Mr Haibatullah Akhundzada became the leader of the group after Mullah Mohammad Mansour was killed by the US.

He fled in 2001 to Pakistan, where he taught at religious schools before he rejoined to serve under Mansour.

The former cleric does not have much military experience but has worked to bolster the group’s finances since becoming leader of the group, in part through the narcotics trade.

It has been years since Mr Haibatullah Akhundzada has appeared in public.

Another key person within the Taliban group is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who is the co-founder of the group.

Mr Baradar was released in 2013 after being captured in Karachi, Pakistan.

He heads the group’s political committee and was in effect akin to the CEO of the movement for many years because Mr Mullah Omar was in hiding.

He was freed from a Pakistani jail at the request of the US less than three years ago.

In a televised statement on the fall of Kabul, he said the Taliban’s real test was only just beginning and that they had to serve the nation.

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