Afghan Biographies

Akhund, Mohammad Fazel Mullah

Name Akhund, Mohammad Fazel Mullah
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth 1968
Function/Grade Taliban chief negotiator for U.S. talks in Doha
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Deputy Minister of Defense
Ex Taliban Chief of the Army Staff (2001)
Frontline Commander Takhar Province (20011000)
Taliban chief negotiator for U.S. talks in Doha (20190502)

3. Biodata:
fazl_mullah_mohammadMullah Mohammad Fazl Akhund Mullah Fazil Mazlum Mulla Muhammad Fazal Akhond Mazloom, was was released from Guantanamo detention facility.(20140601) He was born 1967 or 1968 to a Kakar Pashtun family in Charchno, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. He originally hails from Tirin Kot  in Uruzgan, and is also old enough to have fought at a junior level during the 1980s jihad. As of Dec. 29, 2011, he has been held at Guantánamo for nine years 11 months.

Fazl is said to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan's Shiite Muslims between 1998 and 2001. According to US military documents made public by WikiLeaks, he was also on the scene of a November 2001 prison riot that killed CIA operative Johnny Micheal Spann, the first American who died in combat in the Afghan war. There is no evidence, however, that Fazl played any direct role in Spann’s death.

He was possibly accountable for the execution of eight Iranian diplomats in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Fazl inspires visceral hatred in the Iranian mind and could create misunderstandings in Pakistan-Iran relations (which have been on an upswing in recent years) and put Islamabad on the horns of a dilemma vis-a-vis Mullah Omar.

Fazl is also a notorious personality from the Central Asian and Russian viewpoint insofar as he used to be the Taliban's point person for al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Chechen rebels. He was also in charge of the strategic Kunduz region bordering the "soft underbelly" of Central Asia where he was based with IMU chief Juma Namangani at the time of the US intervention in October 2011.

Fazl belongs to the "pre-Haqqani clan" era. Will the Haqqani network - a key component of the Taliban-led insurgency from its base in Pakistan's tribal areas - accept Fazl's "seniority" and give way to him? Pakistan may have to prioritize its "strategic assets"; it is a veritable minefield. The Obama administration is optimistic that if Fazl could be left to able Qatari hands, he could be recycled as an Islamist politician for a democratic era.


In February 2011, the Afghan High Peace Council named a half-dozen it wanted released as a goodwill gesture. The list included Fazl; senior Taliban military commander Noorullah Noori; former deputy intelligence minister Abdul Haq Wasiq; and Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former interior minister.

Now it seemes not clear Fazl and four other Taliban members detained under US custody will be handed over to Afghan authorities or to Qatar.  It's not clear if they will be set free or remain under further custody.(20111231)

It is rumored that Fazl might have the credentials to bring Mullah Omar on board for launching formal peace talks. He is certainly one of the finest products of Pakistan's madrassas and he enjoyed terrific equations with the ISI. (Declassified U.S. State Department documents cite him as a key figure in the Taliban's capture of Kabul in 1996.) His bonding with the Islamist forces in Pakistan and the ISI can be useful channels of communication to persuade Islamabad to cooperate with the U.S.-led peace talks or, at the very least, refrain from undercutting.  But Fazl also evokes hostile sentiments from the Hazaras but not so much from the Tajiks (Ahmed Shah Massoud negotiated prisoner exchanges with him) or the Uzbekis (he worked with the U.S. Special Forces in November 2001 while in Rashid Dostum's custody in Qala-i-Jangi.) Fazl's appearance can throw the erstwhile Northern Alliance groups into disarray. But Fazl is a trump card for the U.S. on because he is an antidote to Iran's influence in Afghanistan and can create imbalance in the delicate Iran-Pakistan equations. Tehran cannot easily forgive him for his war crimes. (20120109)

Taliban’s top leadership has decided that Mohammad Fazil Akhund should be appointed as new chief negotiator. The reasons that led Mullah Abbas Stanikzai’s replacement are unknown, but there were rumors the top leadership felt he could not represent them and their case accordingly. Stanekzai will participate in peace talks, but would not lead the Taliban team. The news comes as Taliban representatives and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met in Doha on Wednesday May 1, 2019 for sixth round of peace talks.

More Background:

Mullah Fazl Mazlum ended up as one of the most important and feared commanders of the Emirate and was head of the army staff in 2001. Unlike other Taleban commanders, he never took a civilian post. There is evidence documented by the Afghanistan Justice Project (AJP) that he had command responsibilities for two grave breaches of the laws of armed conflict.

In 1999, he was one of the senior field commanders in the Shomali offensive, leading forces along the Old Road to Mirbacha Kot (while Mullah Dadullah – killed while fighting in 2007 – commanded forces on the New Road connecting Kabul with Bagram further west). The victorious Taleban destroyed civilian infrastructure in Shomali on an industrial scale – burning houses, vineyards, orchards and destroying irrigation systems; they also summarily executed civilians and surrendered Northern Alliance fighters and forcibly displaced civilians, contributing to an exodus of 300,000 people. AJP reports:

One eye witness, who fought with the Taliban specifically implicates Mullah Fazil as supervising the wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure. On August 10, 1999, this commander went for a meeting with Mullah Fazil, near the front line, in Kalakan District. He observed widespread, deliberate destruction to houses and shops in the area. Fazil was in the field, supervising demolition operations.

Fazl also had what AJP calls “strategic responsibility” as the head of the army staff when the Taleban were trying to subdue resistance in and around Yakowlang (Bamyan province) in 2001, involving a series of massacres of civilians and the burning of villages. Others are also implicated, both those on the ground and in other command positions. (10) AJP says Fazl “visited occasionally, including during major operations,” and that he “must have been involved in the planning and supervision of the operation.”


Last Modified 2019-05-02
Established 2011-12-31