Zabihullah Mujahid

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Zabihullah Mujahid
ذبيح الله مجاهد
Mujahid in 2021
Deputy Minister of Information and Culture
Assumed office
7 September 2021
Supreme LeaderHibatullah Akhundzada
Prime MinisterHasan Akhund (acting)
MinisterKhairullah Khairkhwa
Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Assumed office
25 October 2021
DeputyInamullah Samangani
Ahmadullah Wasiq
Maulvi Asadullah (Bilal Karimi)
Personal details
Born (1978-02-07) February 7, 1978 (age 46)
Gardez District, Paktia Province, Afghanistan
Political partyAfghanistan Taliban

Zabihullah Mujahid (Pashto: ذبیح الله مجاهد; Ẕabīḥullāh Mujāhid [zabihʊˈlɑ mʊd͡ʒaˈhɪd]; also spelled Dhabih Allah Mujahid[1]) is an Afghan militant spokesperson who has been the chief spokesman for the internationally unrecognized Taliban regime of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan since 25 October 2021[2] and their Deputy Minister of Information and Culture since 7 September 2021.[3] He has long served as one of several spokesmen for the Taliban, the others being Suhail Shaheen and Yousef Ahmadi. Mujahid commented mainly on the Taliban's activities in eastern, northern, and central Afghanistan, while Ahmadi focused on the western and southern regions.[4] In addition to being the government's main spokesman, Mujahid serves as a personal spokesman for Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.[5]

Mujahid appeared publicly in person on 17 August 2021.[6][7][8] Prior to that, he regularly communicated with journalists and spoke on behalf of the Taliban via cellphone calls, text messages, emails, Twitter, and postings on Islamist websites.[citation needed] Mujahid was appointed in January 2007 following the arrest of Taliban spokesman Muhammad Hanif.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Born in 1978 in the Gardez District of Paktia province, he received his early education in Islamic seminaries from different cities of Afghanistan as well the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, where he specialized in Islamic jurisprudence, writing different research papers in the field as well.

He began fighting at the age of 16 and later became a writer in Dari for a Taliban magazine before serving as an anchor for a Taliban radio in both Pashto and Dari.

He is married with four children.[9] His mother died in October 2021. [citation needed]

Taliban spokesman[edit]

Mujahid became the Taliban group's spokesman in January 2007 following the arrest of Muhammad Hanif by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), on the border town of Torkham crossing from Pakistan.[10] As a Taliban spokesman, Mujahid communicated the group's message to Afghan and international media. He has been responsible for confirming or denying group's involvement in attacks across Afghanistan. He has also released videos on his Twitter account showing the Taliban's activity throughout the conflict.

On 21 April 2017, Mujahid claimed Taliban responsibility for an attack on an army base in Mazar-i-Sharif that killed more than 140 soldiers.[11][failed verification] On 21 January 2019, Mujahid claimed Taliban responsibility for an attack on training centre of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) that killed over 100 security personnel.[12] On 29 November 2020, Mujahid claimed responsibility for an attack on army base in Afghanistan that killed 30 security personnel.[13]

On 17 July 2021, Mujahid apologized for the death of Reuters' Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui, who was killed in a clash between Afghan forces and Taliban. Mujahid claimed the Taliban were not aware of how Siddiqui died, asking journalists to inform the Taliban before entering war zone so that the group can "take proper care of that particular individual".[14]

Contested identity before 2021[edit]

As of 2011, the US military claimed that Mujahid was not a single individual, but a persona by that name that was used by multiple Taliban spokespeople. However, some journalists said that they recognized his voice and that they had been communicating with the same individual for several years.[15]

A man claiming to be Mujahid was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter Nic Robertson.[16] Robertson described the man as close to 30 years old, bearded, and slightly over 6 feet (1.83 m) tall. After the CNN interview was broadcast in May 2009, the Zabiullah Mujahid that journalists had been speaking to via cellphone claimed that the interviewee was an impostor. One intelligence analyst said that the man interviewed by CNN was one of multiple individuals using the persona, but that the man was disowned because his superiors were unhappy with the interview. The analyst said, "There's no way Zabiullah Mujahid could be one person... No one person could take that many calls from the media."[15]

Public reveal[edit]

Mujahid first appeared publicly and showed his face on 17 August 2021, two days after the fall of Kabul,[6] at the Taliban's first press conference along with Abdul Qahar Balkhi in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he answered questions of local and international media teams. He is fluent in both Pashto and Dari Persian languages.[17][18][7][8]

In an interview with The Express Tribune, published on 12 September 2021, Mujahid states that "They [US and Afghan National Forces] used to think I did not exist." He then says "I escaped so many times from their raids and attempts to capture me that they seriously considered that ‘Zabiullah’ was a made up figure, not a real man who exists",[19] referring to his evasion of being captured.

Western nations suspended humanitarian aid to Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the country in August 2021 and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also halted payments.[20][21] The Biden administration froze about $9 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central banks, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. bank accounts.[22][23] On 11 November 2021, the Human Rights Watch reported that Afghanistan is facing widespread famine due to collapsed economy and broken banking system.[21] Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News that "On the one hand they say a million children will die, but on the other, the U.S. are holding our money. The U.S. should release our money so we can save more children."[22]

In the Islamic Emirate government (2021-present)[edit]

On 7 September 2021, Mujahid was appointed Deputy Minister of Information and Culture in the newly formed interim government made up entirely of Taliban members.[2]

In April 2023, Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada relocated Mujahid from Kabul to Kandahar, where Akhundzada resides. Akhundzada has been relocating officials closer to himself in order to tighten his grip on power. Mujahid said his move was a pragmatic decision to allow him to more easily report on Akhundzada's activities, and denied the move is reflective of a power shift.[5][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Taliban spokesman arrested". Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network. 20 January 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "ذبیح الله مجاهد او درې مرستیالان یې معرفي شول". 25 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Taliban Announces Head of State, Acting Ministers".
  4. ^ Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of Words? (PDF) (Report). Asia Report. International Crisis Group. 24 July 2008. p. 42. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Key Taliban spokesman moved from Kabul to southern city". Associated Press. Islamabad, Pakistan. 6 April 2023. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Taliban spokesman says U.S. will not be harmed from Afghan soil". NBC News. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vows they 'will not harm or threaten Afghanistan'". USA Today. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Taliban say they want peace, will respect women's rights under Islamic law". The Express Tribune. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  9. ^ Yousafzai, Shahabullah (12 September 2021). "´They thought I was a ghost´". The Express Tribune.
  10. ^ "Afghans Detain Purported Taliban Spokesman". Radiofreeeurope/Radioliberty.
  11. ^ Taliban kill more than 140 Afghan soldiers at army base, 22 April 2017, The Guardian
  12. ^ Taliban attack on Afghan security base kills over 100, 21 January 2019, Reuters
  13. ^ Car bombing at Afghan base kills at least 30, 29 November 2020, Washington Post
  14. ^ 'We are sorry': Taliban denies role in photojournalist Danish Siddiqui's death, says report, 17 July 2021, Hindustan Times
  15. ^ a b Norland, Rod (14 June 2011). "One Voice or Many for the Taliban, but Pegged to a Single Name". International New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  16. ^ Robertson, Nic (5 May 2009). "Afghan Taliban spokesman: We will win the war". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Afghanistan: Mysterious Taliban spokesman finally shows his face". BBC News. 18 August 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Media matters: Part I". Public Radio International. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  19. ^ "'They thought I was a ghost' | The Express Tribune". 12 September 2021. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  20. ^ "'Countdown to catastrophe': half of Afghans face hunger this winter – UN". The Guardian. 25 October 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Afghanistan Facing Famine: UN, World Bank, US Should Adjust Sanctions, Economic Policies". Human Rights Watch. 11 November 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Taliban blames U.S. as 1 million Afghan kids face death by starvation". CBS News. 20 October 2021.
  23. ^ "Is the United States Driving Afghanistan Toward Famine?". The New York Times. 29 October 2021.
  24. ^ Ikramullah Ikram; Abubakar Siddique (18 April 2023). "Southern Afghan City Becomes De Facto Capital As Taliban Chief Tightens Grip On Power". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 11 May 2023.

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