The men who pull the strings inside the Taliban – and now ...

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The men who pull the strings inside the Taliban – and now Afghanistan

Here are seven of the most influential leaders in the organisation

Muneeza Naqvi and Eltaf Najafizada

For decades the Taliban’s leadership structure has been in the shadows. Even before the US invasion in 2001, little was known about how the group operates beyond the names of a few top leaders.

Now the militants are trying to recast themselves in a more moderate mould, promising amnesty for their enemies, vowing to build an inclusive government with various ethnic groups, keep terrorist groups off Afghan soil and allow women to work within the bounds of Sharia law. Those are all among conditions for the US and its allies to recognise the group as the legitimate new rulers of Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s senior leadership includes many Mujahideen fighters who were once trained by the US during the Cold War to battle against the invading Soviet Union forces in the 1980s. The Sunni group’s membership is drawn largely from the majority ethnic Pashtun population most dominant in the southern part of the country...

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