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Rattled by ISIS-K attacks, Taliban supremo Akhundzada urges commanders to weed out infiltrators

Taliban supremo Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The Taliban supremo Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has warned against the danger of turncoats and infiltrators in the group that has been struggling to govern Afghanistan. In a letter written to all Taliban leaders including commanders, Akhundzada  said many imposters have managed to infiltrate in the ranks and are “working against the will of the government”. According to AFP, the warning came in a statement attributed to Akhundzada that was circulated widely on Taliban social media accounts on Thursday. Though Akhundzada  did not mention any names, it was obvious that he was referring to the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) which has intensified several deadly attacks on Shias and Taliban leaders.

"All the elders should look into their ranks and see if there are any unknown entities working against the will of the government, which must be eradicated as soon as possible," Akhundzada's message was quoted  by an  AFP report on Thursday.

The reclusive Taliban chief further warned: “Whatever wrong happens, the elder will be responsible for the consequences of the actions in this world and in the afterlife."

Haibatullah Akhundzada, who was not seen in public since the US-Taliban Doha deal last year, had visited Jamia Darul Uloom Hakimia, a religious school in Kandahar on Saturday, a move which could quell rumours that he may be dead. The Taliban spokesperson had said that their leader was in Kandahar and the leaders of the Taliban government were in touch with him for guidance.

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The Sunni hardliner militant group captured power in August and managed to form  the interim government amid internal conflicts. Since then, the Taliban government has been struggling to govern the country. Taliban leaders insist that they can re-establish stability and security, but there have also been killings blamed on Taliban commanders and fighters. A Taliban spokesman insisted the killers were not acting under orders and promised they would be punished but nothing happened.

In his statement, Akhundzada said that commanders must take the time to sit down with their recruits to “try to work on their manners and behaviour so that these mujahideen can work better for their leaders.”

In September, the new Defence Minister and son of the founder of the group Mullah Omar,  Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob had issued warning to commanders that they should be vigilant because “there are some bad and corrupt people who want to join us … To fulfil their own interest or to defame us and make us look bad”. In recent months, the Taliban has expanded its recruitment as it seeks to fulfil a pledge to maintain security in the country.

Yaqoob asked commanders to conduct a full background check on all fighters. The sudden move was prompted by concerns that other extremist groups have infiltrated the Taliban's ranks.

Nevertheless, the group has faced a series of deadly attacks from its arch rival – the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).

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