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Taliban Supreme Leader Makes 1st Public Appearance Since 2016

The Taliban Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada made his first public appearance since he became leader of the organization in 2016. Akhundzada addressed supporters on Saturday at a mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the French News agency AFP reported.

While no videos or photos were released of Akhundzada’s speech, a 10-minute audio recording was shared on social media. The message was religious in nature and did not talk about the Taliban organization. He asked God to bless the Taliban, and prayed for its success.

Akhundzada became Supreme Leader of the Taliban after the death of Akhtar Mansour in a May 2016 US drone strike. Akhundzada has not appeared in public, but has released messages during the Islamic holidays. The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August; it is not known how Akhundzada will be involved in the new Taliban government.  Last month he called on the new Taliban government to uphold Sharia law.