Taliban to Clear Its Ranks From Non-Pashtun Commanders

How did the only member of the Taliban from the Hazara community join the group and why was he expelled?

Mawlawi Mehdi Mujahid, a Hazara member in the ranks of the Taliban, has left the group’s ranks. He, who was the only one who opposed the closure of girls’ schools, has now retired.

The Taliban tried to use his influence to strengthen ties with the Hazaras and Shiites, but now the commander has left the Taliban and cut ties with the group’s leaders.

Mehdi Mujahid is one of Afghanistan’s Hazara members who fought with the Taliban against former regime. Unlike other members of the Taliban, he did not attend the Deobandi schools.

In this report, Hasht-e Subh reviews Mehdi’s life from joining the Taliban to leaving its ranks.

According to the findings, Mehdi is from the impoverished village of Hoosh in Balkhab district of Sar-e-Pul province. He has spent the early part of his life in poverty.

A former district governor in Sar-e-Pul province, who did not want to be named in the report, told Hasht-e Subh that Mehdi Mujahid had been arrested by the former government’s security forces 12 years earlier on charges of kidnapping and sentenced to 14 years in prison. According to him, after seven years, Mehdi was pardoned for the rest of his imprisonment and he was released. He added that Mehdi sought revenge after his release from prison. But they reconciled with the mediation of Mohammad Mohaqeq, the leader of the Islamic Unity Party of the people of Afghanistan, who wields considerable influence in Balkhab district. According to him, Mehdi once again tried to expand his relationship with the Kabul-based political leaders of the time and reached the coal mine for economic gain.

According to Mohammad Hussein Fahimi, a former representative of Sar-e-Pul in the Parliament at that time, the battle between Mehdi’s armed forces and forces supported by Mohammad Mohaqeq in Balkhab district of Sar-e-Pul province lasted for a week in 2018, with casualties on both sides. He added that Mehdi Mujahid’s armed clashes with Mohammad Mohaqeq’s forces and the security forces of the previous government had attracted the Taliban’s attention. Mehdi Mujahid pledged allegiance to the Taliban in Sar-e-Pul to gain access to the coal mine and took weapons and ammunition from the group. Then, he started recruiting for this group in this province.

The Taliban used tensions to support Mahdi. He was the only Taliban commander from the Hazara community in the north of the country and strengthened his and the Taliban’s economic resources by extorting money from coal trucks and mining them.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Mehdi became known as “Mawlawi Mehdi Mujahid”. Fighting against the previous government in Sar-e-Pul province, he was appointed as the group’s district governor for Balkhab in Sar-e-Pul province in 2020. When the Taliban came to power, Mujahid was appointed head of Taliban Intelligence Department in Bamiyan province, and was fired five months later. He was ousted, as were Uzbek and Tajik commanders who fought for the Taliban.

During his tenure as the group’s Intelligence Chief in Bamiyan, Mehdi Mujahid addressed a group of residents in the province and explicitly opposed the closure of girls ‘schools above the sixth grade, saying that no one had the right to obstruct girls’ education. .

A political expert, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Hasht-e Subh that Taliban leaders were expelling non-Pashtun members from local ranks and offices under various pretexts, and that Mehdi Mujahid, who had spoken out against the closure of girls’ schools gave Taliban leadership a good reason to throw him out their ranks..

Inamullah Samangani, the Taliban’s deputy spokesman, tweeted after the resignation of Mehdi Mujahid, referring to him as the “former head of Bamiyan intelligence” and that he and Mawlawi Anas Azizi, the Taliban’s deputy governor in Bamiyan, had met with Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, the group’s political deputy prime minister.

However, a spokesman for the Taliban governor in Bamiyan, two days after Mehdi Mujahid was ousted, said he would be appointed “in a suitable place in Kabul.”

At the same time, Taliban leaders in Kabul met with Mehdi Mujahid and promised to appoint him as deputy head of the group’s Dispute Resolution Council at its intelligence directorate. Mehdi Mujahid spent nearly three months in Kabul to secure the deputy head of the Intelligence Directorate’s Dispute Resolution Council. But he did not succeed. According to the findings, the Haqqani group was opposed to Mehdi Mujahid’s appointment to this post.

A source close to Mehdi confirmed that the Haqqani group was among the Taliban opposed to the appointment of Mehdi Mujahid as deputy head of the group’s dispute resolution council. The source added that the Haqqani are seeking the disarmament of Mehdi Mujahid’s soldiers. The source told that the Haqqani group had demanded the disarmament of all of Mahdi’s fighters in exchange for a salary. But Mehdi Mujahid objected and returned from Kabul to Balkhab district in Sar-e-Pul. According to the source, Mehdi has now cut all ties with the Taliban.

Mehdi Mujahid is not the first influential non-Pashtun Taliban commander who has been ousted after taking control of Afghanistan, despite years of fighting for the group. Makhdoom Alam Rabbani, one of the most influential Uzbek commanders in the Taliban ranks whose presence in the group led to the fall of several northern provinces, was arrested by the group’s intelligence service after the fall of the republic on charges of collaborating with ISIS. He was released after several months in prison and is now retired.