Akhundzada was appointed as the Taliban Supreme Commander on 25 May 2016. He was named on 25 May 2016 as the replacement for Akhtar Mansour as the Taliban supreme commander. Mansour and a second militant were killed when a drone hit a vehicle in which they were riding. The strike was approved by U.S. President Barack Obama who said he hoped Mansour's removal from the battlefield would lead to the Taliban joining a peace process. The Afghan government, members of the Taliban, and President Obama all later officially confirmed his death.
The Afghan Taliban has named its new leader as Haibatullah Akhundzada, an influential religious figure, following the death of former commannder Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike. "Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him," the Islamist group said in a statement. It added that Sirajuddin Haqqani, a sworn enemy of America, and Mullah Yakoub, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, have been appointed his deputies.