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Afghan Taliban announces new leader

Akhundzada is a religious scholar and former head of the Taliban courts

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: May 25 2016 2:50PM | Updated Date: May 25 2016 2:50PM

Afghan Taliban announces new leader

 Afghan Taliban named Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada as its new leader on Wednesday to replace former chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.

 
"The Islamic Emirate's leadership council decided to appoint Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate and Mawlawi Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob as his deputies," the Taliban statement said on Wednesday.
 
Haqqani is the leader of Haqqani terror network, long aligned with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and Yaqoob the son of former long-time Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, a television report said.
 
Akhundzada is a religious scholar and former head of the Taliban courts. He was one of the Afghan Taliban's deputy leaders and has been responsible for issuing most of Taliban's fatwas.
 
From Kandahar province, he belongs to the Eshaqzai clan. He is said to maintain close connections with the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban leaders said to be based in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
 
"All the members of the leadership council pledged allegiance to the newly appointed leader," the statement said, adding allegiance to the new leader is "a religious obligation".
It called on "all Muslims" to enter a three-day period of mourning for Mansour.
 
Taliban had earlier confirmed Mansour's death to CNN but Wednesday's announcement is the first public statement from the group to affirm the death. 
Mansour had inherited the leadership from Omar, who died in Pakistan in 2013.