is said to have issued many of the group’s rulings on how Muslims should comply with the Taliban’s extreme interpretation of Islam.
According to Rahimullah Yousafzai, considered the region’s foremost expert on the Taliban, Akhundzada was away in Pakistan during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan — unlike Omar and Mansour, who earned reputations as fighters as part of the US-backed mujahideen.
It is unclear whether he will follow Mansour in shunning peace negotiations with the Afghan government. Analysts believe he will be more heavily reliant on his shura (council) than Omar and Mansour and will need to rule by consensus.
In terms of age and seniority, he was second only to Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom many sources had believed was in contention for the leadership despite his reported detention by Pakistani authorities. “Akhundzada was chosen to avoid further conflict and consultation,” said Islamabadbased analyst Amir Rana.