ISLAMABAD: Mullah Omar’s elder son has been handed a senior military position within the Afghan Taliban, the insurgent group said on Monday.
Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the elder son of the former Taliban supremo and the group’s founder, had previously refused to accept the leadership of the group’s chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
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Mullah Yaqoob will be in-charge of military commission in 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, a Taliban statement said. The military commission is responsible for overseeing all military affairs of the Taliban and is headed by Mullah Ibrahim Sadr.
In addition to being handed the key military position, he has also been included in the Taliban’s top decision-making council, the “Rehbari Shura.”
The Taliban have also inducted Mullah Abdul Manan, Mullah Omar's brother and Yaqoob’s uncle, into the leadership council. The statement added that both Yaqoob and Manan had formally assumed their offices at a meeting of Taliban leaders, members of the leadership council and senior commanders.
The Express Tribune has learnt that Monday’s announcement was part of an understanding between the Taliban leadership and Mullah Omar's family.
At one stage, Yaqoob and Manan were unwilling to accept top positions in the group when Mansoor's fighters had launched operations against those who refused to pledge their allegiance to Omar's successor.
Omar's family was upset when fighters loyal to the new leader killed top commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, his brother and dozens of his fighters in Zabul a few months ago. Dadullah had also rejected Mansoor as the group’s new leader. He was of the view that Omar’s sons should lead the Taliban. Religious scholars close to the Taliban had brokered a ceasefire between Mansoor and the rival faction under Mullah Mohammad Rasool.
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The move is the first time the Taliban leadership has confirmed senior positions for members of Omar’s family and is likely to further strengthen Mansoor’s growing control over the insurgent group.
The announcement also comes just days after senior leader Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir had declared allegiance to Mullah Mansoor. Zakir, who once headed the Taliban’s military commission, was among several influential leaders who had earlier refused to accept Mansoor’s leadership.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2016.