Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the Taliban, back in Afghanistan

Two days after the Taliban seized power, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder and number two of the armed Islamist fundamentalist movement, returned to Afghanistan from Qatar on Tuesday, where he headed the political office.

“A high-level delegation led by Mullah Baradar left Qatar and arrived in our beloved country this afternoon and landed at Kandahar airport,” in southern Afghanistan, Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter.

This is the first time that an active senior Taliban leader has publicly returned to Afghanistan since he was ousted from power by a US-led coalition in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kandahar was the capital of the Taliban. when they were in power between 1996 and 2001. It was in the province of the same name that the movement was born in the early nineties.

Born in southern Uruzgan province and raised in Kandahar, Abdul Ghani Baradar is the Taliban co-founder with Mullah Omar, who died in 2013 but whose death had been hidden for two years. As with many Afghans, his life was marked by the 1979 Soviet invasion, which made him a mujahideen, and he is believed to have fought alongside Mullah Omar.

In 2001, after the US intervention and the fall of the Taliban regime, he was said to be part of a small group of insurgents willing to agree to a deal recognizing the Kabul administration. But this initiative was unsuccessful. He was the military leader of the Taliban when he was arrested in 2010 in Karachi, Pakistan. He was released in 2018, especially under pressure from Washington.

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Listened to and respected by the different Taliban factions, he was appointed head of its political office, located in Qatar. From there, he led the negotiations with the Americans that led to the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, then to peace talks with the Afghan government, which failed. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on Sunday after a meteoric offensive launched in May following the start of the withdrawal of foreign troops.

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