'Elusive' Mullah Yaqub makes first appearance before media

Taliban leader and son of Mullah Omar was named defence minister in interim cabinet


Shahabullah Yusufzai October 27, 2021
Mullah Yaqub, Taliban defence minister and head of military commission, addresses gathering at a Kabul hospital. PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR:

Mullah Yaqub Omar, the new defence minister of Afghanistan and son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, made his first appearance before the media in Kabul on Wednesday.

Mullah Yaqub, who heads the Taliban military commission, recently moved to Kabul from Kandahar and has close family members as his personal guards.

He is said to be the driving force behind the capture of the entire country by the Taliban after the US announced the withdrawal of its forces.

Addressing the ceremony at Kabul's Shaheed Sardar Daud Hospital, Yaqub urged the wealthy segments of the Afghan society to invest in the healthcare sector so that Afghans don't have to rely on neighbours for treatment.

He said the Taliban were in power to serve the Afghans, adding that those who have more resources should contribute towards nation-building.

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The security during the address was extraordinary, given Yaqub is still one of the most wanted men in the US, a local journalist told The Express Tribune. The announcement that Mullah Yaqub would address the gathering took the participants and the media personnel by surprise because nobody knew about his presence.

Who is Mullah Yaqub?

The 27-year-old son of Mullah Omar -- the founder of the Taliban -- grew up in Balochistan and received his religious education in Pakistan's southwestern province as well. He moved to Kandahar for his final exams, however.

He is considered an expert in large scale operations even though at first he was not well-versed in combat. He was later appointed as the head of the military commission by the Taliban. After the appointment, he moved back to Afghanistan from Pakistan.

According to sources, Yaqub is a close aide of Mullah Haibatullah on military operations, while he is one of the strong voices in the Taliban shura. They claim that Yaqub is "considered as a final authority" on military operations and related appointments.

The Taliban leader was made a shadow defence minister after the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone strike in 2015. Yaqub and Mansour didn't particularly get along as the former refused to recognise the latter as the head of the Taliban.

Due to the rift, they stayed away from the Taliban movement for a few months, but a reconciliation was made through a jirga.

 

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