September 15, 2021
Only days after installing a new government in Afghanistan, several top leaders of the Taliban reportedly got into a major dust-up over who did the most to boot U.S. troops from the country and who was most deserving of certain coveted cabinet positions.
Two rival factions of the militant regime brawled at the presidential palace in the capital city of Kabul late last week, BBC News reported.
The skirmish — which started after strong words were exchanged between Taliban deputy prime minister and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the regime’s new head of security, Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani — has reportedly resulted in Baradar’s disappearance.
Here’s more from the BBC:
One Taliban source told BBC Pashto that Mr. Baradar and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani — the minister for refugees and a prominent figure within the militant Haqqani network — had exchanged strong words, as their followers brawled with each other nearby.
A senior Taliban member based in Qatar and a person connected to those involved also confirmed that an argument had taken place late last week.
The sources said the argument had broken out because Mr. Baradar, the new deputy prime minister, was unhappy about the structure of their interim government.
The row also reportedly stemmed from divisions over who in the Taliban should take credit for their victory in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has publicly denied that the argument took place and insisted that Baradar is alive and well despite the fact that the deputy prime minister hasn’t made a public appearance in days.
A Taliban spokesman, Sulail Shaheen, told Reuters on Tuesday that Baradar has been busy attending meetings in the southern city of Kandahar. The spokesman has shared video footage of the meetings, but the footage has not been independently verified.
“He says it is lies and totally baseless,” Shaheen added, claiming to pass along a message from Baradar himself.
The BBC noted that the Taliban has issued “conflicting statements” in regard to Baradar’s whereabouts. Some have maintained he is away on business, while others said the leader was “tired and wanted some rest.”
Baradar’s supposed rival, Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, is known for carrying out violent attacks against Western allies in Afghanistan. He is the leader of the Haqqani network, a group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
Haqqani currently has a $5 million bounty on his head for links to al Qaeda operations. His nephew, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has been appointed interior minister in the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list and has a $10 million bounty on his head.