MEI - Taliban

About This Initiative

With the Taliban firmly entrenched in power in Afghanistan, the group's extremist ideology, history of ruthless suppression, and extensive ties to a wide variety of militant/terrorist groups demand close monitoring of its members and their activities. At the same time, the interests of the United States and the broader engagement community argue for efforts to explore and cultivate avenues for meaningful engagements with the Taliban government. This imperative demands a deeper understanding of the Taliban's power dynamics and the configuration of their current government, with a specific focus on identifying key decision-makers and influencers within the regime's corridors of power. This initiative aims to provide continuous insights into the “who's who” within the Taliban government.

Following their seizure of power on August 15, 2021, the Taliban swiftly established their new government under the group’s historic name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). The Taliban rulers declared the authority of their new government as "acting" (sarparast), without setting any definitive term limits, thereby leaving their rule open-ended. On September 7, 2021, they unveiled their initial cabinet and other key appointments to govern the new administration. Since then, the Taliban leadership has appointed thousands of individuals to various positions across the country, comprising a mix of seasoned veterans and emerging figures within the regime's hierarchy.

This platform is an extensive repository documenting the majority of senior- and mid-level appointments, both civilian and military, made by the Taliban since assuming power in August 2021. This comprehensive coverage catalogs nearly 1,200 individuals within various echelons of authority, including within the offices of the Taliban's emir, cabinet officials, provincial and district governors, mayors, independent commissions and major government bodies, military corps, and security agencies, including police and intelligence. Additionally, the mapping tracks judicial appointees within the Supreme Court, Sharia, military courts, and provincial ulema (clerical) councils. The mapping also documents officials responsible for finance and economic matters, cultural and educational leaders, spokespersons, senior aides, and individuals engaged in representing and/or promoting the Taliban's foreign relations and public affairs (inside and outside the country), as well as Taliban-linked media commentators. For better visibility, individuals who are not members of the Taliban but currently hold positions within or have affiliations with the Taliban government have also been identified.


Most of these individuals occupy crucial roles as decision-makers, influencers, local enforcers, and implementers who help shape the Taliban’s policies and actions. Yet, little is known about them, including their tribal and factional affiliations within the Taliban, leadership and decision-making styles, willingness to compromise on social and political issues, and how they manage internal disagreements and disputes. This lack of information poses a significant challenge for the engagement community in understanding the Taliban’s internal power structure and decision-making processes to help discern potential pathways for meaningful engagement.

This platform is tailored to provide insights into the key figures and individuals wielding influence across various levels within the Taliban government. The mapping seeks to facilitate the identification of individuals who may be receptive to dialogue and collaboration, as well as those involved in rights violations, abuses, or criminal activities. Such understanding is essential for the engagement community to develop a targeted and actionable approach to engage with the Taliban meaningfully, thereby advancing accountability, human rights, and internal stability in Afghanistan.

The mapping currently offers the following available background information (in progress) regarding the listed Taliban officials and other affiliated individuals.

 

  • Names and Aliases: Details the names and any known aliases or nom de guerre used by the individuals. Given the Taliban's historical use of pseudonyms, this aids in identifying those who may operate under multiple identities.
  • Official Positions: This includes the official titles of the Taliban officials and affiliated individuals, outlining their roles and responsibilities within or in support of the Taliban government. Despite frequent personnel changes, each individual listed in an official capacity appears to be serving on an "acting basis" within the Taliban administration. 
  • Photographs: While most senior Taliban members have historically maintained a cloak of secrecy, this repository offers an extensive collection of over a thousand recent photographs of Taliban officials and affiliated individuals. 
  • Ethnicity and Tribe: While still in progress, the project documents the known ethnicity and tribal affiliation of the Taliban officials and affiliated individuals, offering insights into the distribution of power within the Taliban government and discerning key factions and power bases within the regime.
  • Province and District of Origin: This includes available information on the province and district of origin of the Taliban officials and affiliated individuals, aiding in the identification of their local power bases and the group's local enforcers and implementers.
  • Other Identifying Information: This contains available details about the individual's age, educational background, positions held within the current and previous Taliban regime, ideological leaning, leadership style, and known links and associations with other key actors, including militant/terrorist groups. These details serve to identify individuals who may wield influence over the Taliban’s policies and actions, particularly in critical domains like terrorism financing, narcotics, and organized crime.
The project's data primarily originates from an extensive collection of publicly available information gathered over two years. This open-source repository includes comprehensive documentation and analysis of numerous appointment orders issued by the Taliban's emir, notices of appointment released by Taliban principals and spokespersons, as well as identities of Taliban personnel disclosed in regime statements. Additionally, rigorous scrutiny has been applied to interviews and public appearances of Taliban officials and affiliated individuals across various local and foreign media outlets, documentaries, as well as local and international conferences and events.

Furthermore, thorough examinations of internal Taliban government documents and public profiles of Taliban members and affiliated individuals provided in reports by entities such as the United Nations, Interpol, and the U.S. government were conducted.  Each entry underwent meticulous cross-verification against these reports to ensure accuracy and reliability. These efforts were complemented by a detailed analysis of hundreds of branded and unbranded Taliban-linked social media accounts across platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Telegram.


Most entries provided in this mapping are current as of July 2024. Real-time updates regarding future Taliban appointments and personnel changes will be made available on this portal. For inquiries or to report errors or updates to any of the individual entries, please click here.