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Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha, Qatar, on July 18. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images.

Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, the militant group's political leader, arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday for the first time in more than two decades, according to a Taliban spokesperson.

Why it matters: It's still unclear who will lead the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as president, but Baradar is widely viewed as the public face of the Taliban movement.

  • His arrival in Kandahar came as spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid held the Taliban's first news conference since capturing Kabul.
  • The group's mysterious spiritual leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has not yet emerged.

The big picture: Baradar is the head of the Taliban's political office and one of the chief negotiators in the failed Afghan peace talks, per Reuters.

  • He was one of the four original founders of the Taliban in 1994 and served in various positions of leadership from 1996 to 2001. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the Taliban's fall, he fled to Pakistan, per Al Jazeera.
  • Baradar was captured by Pakistani forces in Karachi in 2010. He was released from prison in 2018 at the request of U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad so that he could help lead the peace negotiations, The Guardian reports.
  • Baradar's release from prison was intended as a gesture of goodwill to get the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, per NPR.

What they're saying: Baradar became the highest-ranking Taliban leader to address the group's victory on Sunday, urging humility following the unexpectedly swift collapse of the Afghan government and pledging to now "serve and secure our people."

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Pakistan Airlines halts flights to Kabul citing "heavy-handedness" of Taliban

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul on Sept 13. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday halted flights to Kabul after what it called "heavy-handedness" of Taliban authorities, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspension comes after the Taliban ordered PIA to slash ticket prices, warning that the company's Afghan operations could be blocked if it refused to do so, per Reuters.

Updated 17 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Updated 31 mins ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and planned to travel to another destination afterward when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.