As the Taliban continues its hold in Afghanistan, a former prisoner released by Donald Trump could become the group’s next head of government.
The Taliban is expected to name its government soon, appointing Islamic judges to key positions, while Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former prisoner of the CIA who was released in 2018 at the request of the Trump administration, looks set to take the role of political head of state.
Baradar led a number of Taliban forces, as well as managing its shadow governments, before being captured by the CIA in 2010 in Pakistan.
After being released, Baradar joined a Taliban negotiating team in Doha, Qatar, working to find a deal to allow American troops to leave in return for an end to attacks on US forces, VICE reports.
In February 2020 the Doha agreement was signed, pledging to withdraw NATO troops from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban preventing al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control. The Trump administration said the agreement was a breakthrough towards peace in the area. However, having now been implemented and western forces withdrawn, the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan by force.
Baradar has previously been portrayed as the Taliban’s moderate spokesperson, having had numerous dealings with other foreign leaders like China’s Wang Yi and former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Now, with the Taliban saying it will rule under sharia law, eyes will be on Baradar to establish a new, legitimate government in the country, the Financial Times reports.