Taliban supreme leader is creating his own military force

In its weekly update published on Thursday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has stated that Taliban’s leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, is working to create his own military force. The move has raised concerns about his monopolization of power and escalate the Taliban’s infighting.

“The Taliban supreme leader removed the Taliban minister of finance, which may open new rifts in the Taliban’s traditional support base.” ISW wrote in the report. “The Taliban supreme leader’s efforts to form his own military forces may exacerbate concerns he is monopolizing power and further escalate Taliban government infighting.” The organization added.

ISW’s report comes amid reports of internal disputes within the Taliban, with senior officials directly and indirectly criticizing Akhundzada’s leadership. 

The leader of the Haqqani network and Taliban’s interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, publicly challenged some members of the group in a speech in February, accusing them of forgetting the people. His speech was seen as a direct challenge to Akhundzada’s leadership.

The removal of Hedayatullah Badri from the Ministry of Finance by the Taliban’s leader, and his appointment as the head of the Taliban-controlled central bank has also fueled speculation about internal disputes. 

Moreover, former chief of Afghanistan intelligence agency, Rahmatullah Nabil has claimed on March 19 that the Taliban leader has withdrawn 60 billion Afghanis (US$689,746,200) from the group’s ministry of finance over the past one year to form a personal army of 40,000 troops from his own clans in southern Kandahar province.