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Akhundzada, Taliban's highest leader, makes first public appearance in Afghanistan

Taliban sources reported on October 31 that the Taliban's reclusive supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, made a rare public appearance in the southern city of Kandahar, defying widespread rumours that he had died. Even after the Taliban took over the country in August, Akhundzada, also known as the leader of the faithful or Amir ul Momineen, had not been seen in public, leading to conjecture. On October 30, Akhundzada visited Jamia Darul Aloom Hakimia, a religious school in Kandahar, according to a top Taliban leader who was present at the event.

After U.S.-led forces withdrew in September, the Islamist movement's provisional government was disclosed, and mysterious Akhundzada remained his post as supreme commander, with ultimate control over the group's political, religious, and military matters, which he had held since 2016. Despite the fact that some officials claim Akhundzada has made unannounced public appearances in the past, this was the first verifiable appearance of a man who has had a low public profile for a long time. 

The only photo of him that Reuters could find was an undated image shared on a Taliban Twitter account in May 2016. Because of his enigmatic existence, there has been continual conjecture about his whereabouts and health. For years, the Taliban have refused to acknowledge the death of Mullah Omar, the Taliban's founder, and initial supreme leader.

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