Zabihullah Mujahid (ذبیح الله مجاهد) is the Taliban government’s central spokesperson and Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, roles he took on shortly after the Taliban ousted the Ghani administration in August of 2021. A top Taliban spokesperson since 2007, during the war he became internationally recognized as the faceless mouthpiece of the movement’s sophisticated propaganda machine – an apparatus which played a pivotal role in allowing the Taliban to reseize power. His first public appearance after the fall of Kabul put to rest, for the most part, rumors that “Zabiullah Mujahid” was a nom de guerre that represented a composite of several personalities rather than a single individual.
Ahmad Massoud (احمد مسعود) is founder and president of the National Resistance Front (NRF), a political-military group that took up arms against the Taliban regime when the radical movement captured Kabul in August of 2021. Son of legendary Tajik mujahideen commander and national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, supporters hope the younger Massoud will not only fill his father’s shoes but will successfully lead a rebellion to oust the Taliban, unify Afghanistan, and establish a democratic state with a moderate Islamic system.
Sirajuddin Haqqani (سِراج الدّين حقاني) is a deputy leader of the Taliban, acting interior minister of the Afghan state since August of 2021, and a U.S. designated global terrorist with a $10 million bounty on his head. Notorious for his jihadi zeal and strong ties to al-Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence, Sirajuddin also heads the Haqqani Network, a militant group founded by his father that was the most lethal faction within the Taliban umbrella during the post-9/11 insurgency.
Abdul Ghani Baradar (عبدالغني برادر), also known as Mullah Baradar, is a co-founder of the Taliban who has served as acting first deputy prime minister of the Afghan state since the movement seized Kabul in August of 2021. He played a lead role in negotiating the withdrawal agreement with U.S. officials in Doha which brought an end to the 20-year presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil. He has been characterized as wearing a wide-range of hats and faces over the years, tops amongst them being capable military commander, “cunning” tribal consensus-builder, and “sophisticated” diplomat.
Hibatullah Akhundzada (هبت الله اخندزاده)has been the supreme leader of the Taliban since 2016 and Afghanistan’s head of state since August of 2021, when the radical Islamic movement seized Kabul after a 20-year insurgency and the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces. Akhundzada was elected as the Taliban’s third leader after his predecessor, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike in May of 2016.