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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 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

Updated 8 mins ago - Sports

MLB headed for first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.