After months of taking over power in Afghanistan, the powerful Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, remains camera shy, either avoiding it or having his face blurred. Here he is meeting Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu with the delegation seen sitting across Haqqani
It has been more than five months since the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan. Yet, the world has not seen the face of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the most powerful person of the regime. Recently, one video clip was put by his supporters where Sirajuddin is seen preaching his fighters. In this video, as usual his face was blurred but weapons kept by his side visible.
“Our struggle is not for revenge. Good morals are the attributes of a believer. One of the examples of good morals is forgiveness,” he said in Pashto.
Deputy Amir & Interior Minister of IEA, H.E Khalifa Sirajuddin Haqqani: Our struggle is not for revenge. Good morals are the attributes of a believer. One of the examples of good morals is forgiveness. @AnasHaqqani313 pic.twitter.com/t30nAXKcaB— Muhammad Jalal (@MJalal313) January 18, 2022
A day before, the Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu posted the pictures of his meeting with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Interior Minister of the Taliban government. Yet, except Sirajuddin, everyone else is seen in the picture.
1/2 Met acting MOI Minister S Haqqani. Emphasized humani asistnce, democy, hm rights shd not be politicalized,used as tools to presure other.China nev interfere internal affaires of Afg, respect Afg pursue own system based on national conditions,culture,religion,and tradition. pic.twitter.com/gunZIthUgI— Wang Yu 王愚 (@ChinaEmbKabul) January 16, 2022
In his first public appearance since he became the Taliban's interior minister, Haqqani on October 19 praised suicide bombers and promised money and land to a packed house of their surviving family members. In all photographs, Sirajuddin Haqqani was seen either with his face concealed or digitally blurred in public photographs.
"Haqqani's problem with the United States has not been resolved and he still has a bounty of several million dollars on his head,” Torek Farhadi, a prominent Afghan analyst, told Gandhara News.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the UN designated terror outfit Haqqani Network (HQN) still carries a bounty of $10 million. The Haqqani network was designated a terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2012. The network, the most powerful faction of the Taliban, was blamed for some of the deadliest attacks on foreign troops and Afghan civilians.
Yet, the UN is ready to pay $6M for security to Sirajuddin Haqqani who is wanted by the FBI.
According to Afghan watchers, Haqqani frequently changes location and keeps his movements secret out of fear that Washington will target him using remotely piloted drones.
“He thinks that using face recognition tool kits, he can be targeted. That is why he avoids meeting Westerners face to face,” says Habib-ur-Rehman, an Afghan journalist, adding that another issue is the increased threats by Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan at the moment.
Then there is an internal rift in the Pashtun dominated Taliban. The most prominent and influential figures of the Durrani faction (Moderate) within the Taliban are Mullah Baradar, and on the other side, the Ghiljis (extremist faction), are Sirajuddin Haqqani and they don't get along.
Haqqani is not the only Taliban minister working in the shadows. The militant group's supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has only been seen on posters with the same old photograph even as Taliban’s appointments are attributed to him amid reports that he died a year ago.