Taliban new leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is seen in an undated photograph, posted on a Taliban twitter feed on May 25, 2016, and identified separately by several Taliban officials, who declined be named. Social Media via Reuters
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Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, named Wednesday as the Afghan Taliban's new leader, was a senior judge during the insurgent group's five-year rule over Afghanistan and a close confidant of its founder Mullah Omar.Believed to be in his fifties, he hails from Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar like both his former boss -- Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Saturday -- and Omar, who died in 2013 .Akhundzada went on to become the group's "chief justice" after a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban government in 2001 . According to Rahimullah Yousafzai, considered the region's foremost expert on the Taliban, Akhundzada was in Pakistan during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan -- unlike Omar and Mansour, who earned reputations as fighters as part of the U.S.-backed mujahideen.Yousafzai projected a rocky road ahead for Akhundzada.
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