In Pictures: The Taliban Leadership


Click image to view the slideshow of the Taliban Leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Taliban Leadership presentation looks at the major players in the Taliban movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban movement spans the Pashtun tribal areas from western Pakistan to eastern and southern Afghanistan. Taliban leaders in Pakistan, such as Baitullah Mehsud, have sworn fealty to Mullah Omar and provide active support for attacks against NATO and Afghan security forces. Many of the Taliban leaders are closely associated with al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, or other al Qaeda leaders.

The presentation will be updated as photos of Taliban commanders become available.

With special thanks to Matt Dupee, who contributed to this report.


READER COMMENTS: "In Pictures: The Taliban Leadership"

Posted by AQI Losses at January 11, 2008 5:47 PM ET:

Bill and Matt,

Excellent piece of work.

If photos become available, will you add the others from the Taliban Shura Majilis?

Mullah Mohammed Hassan
Mullah Berader (killed)
Hafiz Majid
Amir Khan Motaki
Hamid Agha, aka Qudratullah Jaman

Possibly also,

Qari Faiz Mohammad (killed, member of Taliban Military Shura)
Mullah Mahmud Baluch (killed, senior Taliban Commander in Helmand and Nimruz provinces in Afghanistan)
Dr. Muhammad Hanif (released, Taliban spokesman)
Abdul Rasheed Ghazi (killed, co-leader of Red Mosque)
Maulana Abdul Aziz (captured, co-leader of Red Mosque)

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 11, 2008 8:46 PM ET:

I've added Hanif, Ghazi and Aziz... I do not have images for the rest, unfortunately. If any become available I will update the presentation, I expect to update this periodically. I'd really like to get Sufi & Faqir Mohammed on the list...

Posted by Neo at January 12, 2008 4:28 AM ET:

Not exactly a group obsessed about hygiene are they. I can't help but think they wouldn't look like that if women had any say whatsoever. I could picture a violent factional feud breaking out between those who bathe vs. those who don't. I don't suppose we could set up a sophisticated array of BO detectors and vector in on their whereabouts.

Seriously though, I don't think I have seen anyone else do collected pictures and bios on the Taliban leadership.

Posted by Turner at January 12, 2008 10:28 AM ET:

Rather than creating prosperity by their governance, they have to suck their income out of functioning nations. And it's expensive. They buy sustenance in a hostile climate and often have to buy the loyalty of their followers. NPR ran a story which estimated a population of about 400,000 in the area and noted that AQ/Taliban paid about $5 a person per day. Even if you assume they don't pay everyone, that's a quarter to half a billion dollars a year - a huge influx of cash that has to be smuggled in. And then there's the cost of weapons, infrastructure and supplies. How do they get these into remote tribal areas? If they're destroying computers, it has to be cash or hard goods. If you can't grasp the volume this involves, imagine this: Drug dealers, in their haste, often measure high level transactions, by how many American Tourister suitcases, of a certain size, filled with $100 bills are exchanged. It takes two suitcases to make $1,000,000. Imagine $500,000,000 in local currency or lentils.

The great weakness of the Taliban is that a primary source of this cash is lying out in the open, in an indefensible form: Poppy fields in Afghanistan. Crops are, of course, completely vulnerable in war. Only through the massive drug trade in Europe, could the Taliban develop the smuggling infrastructure and cash needed to support their regime in North Pakistan. And the poppy fields are on our side of the border, in Afghanistan. All that's required is a little courage.

One evil begets another and I'm sure that AQ/Taliban views our failure to torch the poppy fields that are eating away at civilized culture in Europe as confirmation of our corruption and weakness. No doubt they'll do their best to convince us that local culture won't tolerate losing the poppy trade, that Afghanis will revolt if they can't grow poppies, etc. Perhaps there's even a perverse pride or sense of moral superiority as well that "people of the book" just stand by dumbly and let others poison their young and exploit them.

After 9/11, the US had to take action in Afghanistan, and our friendships were defined by whether they were for us or against us. The same applies to the poppy fields now. Given AQ's proximity to Pakistan nukes and given what they did to Benizir Bhutto, we need to cut them off. We need to torch the poppy fields now.

Posted by Shade at April 16, 2008 1:15 PM ET:

Mullah Ahmad Shah aka Commander Ismail was reportedly killed today by Pakistani forces.

Posted by ehunter at August 16, 2008 11:29 PM ET:

Now this is what I call REAL JOURNALISM!
A detalied description and photos of who the
Taliban leadership is, and how they operate inside
a network of tribal and family bonds.
Finally someone treating the reader as a adult
rather than a ADD afflicted child in need of
cartoon level sound bytes.

Posted by althecat at December 29, 2010 9:38 PM ET:

I'm new to this site, and have to tell you, the information here is great and really thorough. Thanks for that. I'm sure that I will find much incredible, and even more dumbfounding, for example, how many of these men had been captured and released. That's dumbfounding. I look forward to spending every available moment perusing through this site. There is so very much I don't know. I know how I feel, but taking the emotion out of it... I don't know nearly enough.