The Taliban’s spiritual leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, has made his first public appearance. He took part in a ceremony in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, on Saturday night, according to the radical Islamist movement.
Leader Akhundzada is said to have addressed the attendees for ten minutes during “a large gathering” in the Koranic school Hakimiya. There are no images of it. However, an audio fragment has been shared. In it, Akhundzada can be heard saying prayers and blessings. The message was, therefore, mainly religious in nature and not so much political.
According to a local source, the Taliban leader arrived at the Koranic school in a convoy of two cars under strict security measures. No pictures were allowed of him.
Commander of the Faithful
Akhundzada is the so-called commander of the faithful for the Taliban. He has been a leader since 2016, when foreign military forces still played a major role in Afghanistan, and the movement was in crisis. As a spiritual leader, Akhundzada has never stepped into the limelight. His whereabouts were also unknown for a long time. However, at the end of August, the Taliban reported that he had always lived in Kandahar.
Kandahar is located in southeastern Afghanistan. The city is the birthplace of the fundamentalist movement and the epicenter of the Taliban’s reign of terror in the 1990s. The Taliban returned to power in mid-August amid the withdrawal of Western troops from the Asian country.
The movement is taking a more moderate stance towards the outside world, but few believe that the Taliban actually takes human rights seriously.