Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, nominal Supreme Leader of the Taliban and its “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” regime, made his first public appearance since the fall of Kabul on Sunday.
Akhundzada had not made an official appearance in public since he assumed control of the Taliban in 2016.
Akhundzada reportedly made an appearance at an Islamic seminary in the city of Kandahar. The Taliban forbade photos or video of the Supreme Leader’s appearance but, according to the director of the religious school, Akhundzada “greeted around 700 to 800 students,” who were “crying” with happiness as they “honored his coming.”
The Taliban regime released an audio recording of Akhundzada supposedly addressing the “brave soldiers and disciples” at the school.
“May God reward the oppressed people of Afghanistan who fought the infidels and the oppressors for 20 years. My intention here is to pray for you and you pray for me,” the voice allegedly belonging to Akhundzada said in the recording. This was followed by about ten minutes of prayers for the “martyrs” of the Taliban, its wounded fighters, and its newly-installed public officials.
“Let’s pray that we come out of this big test successfully. May Allah help us stay strong,” the recording concluded.
Arab News on Sunday quoted speculation that the rare appearance and recording by the reclusive “commander of the faithful,” as his official title and endorsements from the al-Qaeda terrorist organization style him, is a sign that he intends to step out of the shadows and assume more direct and public control of the Taliban government. Various Taliban officials claim to be in regular contact with Akhundzada, but he usually only speaks to the rank and file through recorded messages on Muslim holidays.
On the other hand, Afghanistan’s independent Tolo News quoted skeptics who believe Akhundzada is injured or dead, possibly killed in Pakistan when a Taliban safe house was bombed in the spring of 2020.
The Taliban has long denounced rumors of Akhundzada’s death as “baseless rumors” and enemy “propaganda,” but skeptics noted there is no compelling security reason for the Supreme Leader to remain completely invisible and the people he claims to rule have a right to see and hear from him.
The Taliban regime again demanded international recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan on Saturday, threatening not only the people of Afghanistan but the entire world if their claim to power is not recognized by the United States and other nations.
“Our message to America is, if unrecognition continues, Afghan problems continue, it is the problem of the region and could turn into a problem for the world,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned.
Mujahid claimed the U.S. invasion that toppled the Taliban from power in 2001 could have been “solved” through “negotiation” and “political compromise” with proper diplomatic recognition.
No foreign power has yet recognized the Taliban as legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, not even China, which is clearly anxious to do business with the regime.
According to Mujahid, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Taliban officials in Qatar last week, pledged financial support to develop infrastructure in Afghanistan, and promised the Taliban regime would have access to China’s markets.
The Washington Post on Monday reported the Taliban is attempting to shore up its legitimacy by sending a 33-year-old emissary named Maulavi Mahdi to deal with Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslims.
Mahdi describes himself as a “bridge between the Taliban and the Hazara community,” referring to the Shiite ethnic group he belongs to – a minority ruthlessly persecuted by the Taliban before the U.S. invasion in 2001.
This is an excerpt from Breitbart.
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