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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Taliban Leader Promises ‘No Attacks from Afghan Soil’


Supreme leader of the Taliban Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada | Image by Taliban Twitter

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Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the Taliban, demanded that the international community refrain from meddling in Afghanistan’s domestic affairs and vowed that the regime would launch no attacks against other nations from Afghan soil.

On Friday, the secretive Akhundzada unexpectedly traveled to Kabul from his headquarters in the southern Kandahar Province to address a three-day assembly of Islamic clerics and tribal elders, his first trip to Kabul since the Taliban took over.

The Taliban claim they are honoring a pact they made with the U.S. in 2020, just before regaining control, in which they pledged to combat terrorism. Since taking power last year, they have frequently pledged that Afghanistan will not be used as a jumping-off point for attacks against other nations.

In 2001, a coalition led by the United States overthrew the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden, the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Midway through the turbulent final weeks of the U.S. and NATO pullout from Afghanistan, the religious movement regained control.

In a speech ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday, Akhundzada said, “We assure our neighbors, the region, and the world that we will not allow anyone to use our territory to threaten the security of other countries. We also want other countries not to interfere in our internal affairs.”

The Taliban’s restrictions on minority and women’s rights, which are a throwback to their oppressive authority when they were last in power in the late 1990s, have made the international community cautious about recognizing or cooperating with the fundamentalist leadership.

The Taliban’s spiritual leader, Akhundzada, has continued to lead a solitary life. After Mullah Akhtar Mansour, his predecessor, was reportedly killed in a 2016 American drone strike, he quickly ascended to become the movement’s head.

Akhundzada cemented his reputation as a jihadist among the Taliban’s loyal allies thanks to backing from Osama bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Associated Press reported. After seizing control, Akhundzada won the support of the al-Qaida leader, who hailed the cleric as “the emir of the faithful.”

Regardless, Akhundzada expressed a desire to form strong relations with the West, saying, “Within the framework of mutual interaction and commitment, we want good, diplomatic, economic and political relations with the world, including the United States, and we consider this in the interest of all sides.”

Akhundzada referred to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as a “victory for the Muslim world” in the hour-long speech to the Kabul gathering broadcast live on state radio.     

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