A terrorist who the United States had placed a $10m bounty on his head has been appointed by the Taliban as Afghanistan’s interior minister following the announcement of a caretaker government filled with the movement’s old guard.
The movement’s deputy leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, had been formerly accused of overseeing some of the worst atrocities of the militants’ insurgent campaign.
He will, however, take control of a key ministry in the Taliban administration, The Telegraph reported.
His position was announced as the Taliban set out a cabinet entirely staffed by the group’s members.
Despite the group's vows to set up a broad-based new government, the 33-strong line-up contains no women and is dominated by Taliban stalwarts from the Pashtun ethnic group.
The appointment of Haqqani, who carries a $10m State Department reward for information leading to his arrest, is most likely to cause alarm.
Being the head of the notorious Haqqani network faction for more than a decade, he is blamed for indiscriminate bombings and attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians. He reportedly oversaw a 2018 suicide bomb attack in Kabul that killed 103 people using an explosives-filled ambulance.
Analysts said it was difficult to see how the cabinet choice would reassure international donors enough to resume frozen foreign aid, which is desperately needed to keep the Afghan government running.
Weeda Mehran, from the University of Exeter, said: “It is not inclusive at all. There are only a few non-Pashtun members and also I shouldn’t be surprised but it’s still a shock to see Sirajuddin Haqqani there.”