Afghanistan’s Taliban Rulers Appoint Former U.S. Terror Suspect As Defense Minister


By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – ’s ruling group has appointed a suspected terrorist who was held at the U.S.-run Bay prison facility as acting defense minister. The Islamist rulers named ex-detainee Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a mullah or mosque leader, as a minister, reported the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel citing a Taliban source.

His appointment came after the previous Afghan government collapsed following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, the capital, earlier this month.
Senior Taliban commanders said their first armed group headed by Zakir entered Kabul and that within a few hours, they seized control of the Presidential Palace.

Zakir, also known as Abdullah Gulam Rasoul, was captured by U.S. forces after the terror attacks on New York and D.C. and incarcerated at the detention center in Cuba. But he was transferred back to Afghanistan in 2007 after reportedly saying he wanted to help his family. The detainee claimed the Taliban had conscripted him but that he left at the first opportunity.

He was freed despite his alleged close ties to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. And following his fast release in Afghanistan, Zakir became the Taliban’s operations commander in the country’s south. U.S. officials blamed him for masterminding a surge in roadside attacks against American troops and organizing assaults on American aircraft in Afghanistan.

Previously, as a Taliban commander in the 1990s, he was also notorious for brutality and summary executions, U.S. officials said earlier. His appointment as acting defense minister likely added to American troops’ pressure to speed up their withdrawal by August 31. The Taliban says it will not accept an American presence beyond that date.

THOUSANDS STILL STUCK

That warning comes amid mounting international concerns that thousands of Afghans seeking immediate evacuation will stay behind, including Christians and allies of the U.S.-led coalition. Additionally, Americans are among those struggling to reach the Kabul international airport citing concerns.

About 4,000 Americans had reportedly been evacuated from Afghanistan since the U.S.-backed government’s fall last week. However, according to some estimates, perhaps as many as 8,000 to 15,000 Americans are still in the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that as many as 1,500 Americans might be awaiting evacuation from Afghanistan. Untold thousands of at-risk Afghans, however, still are struggling to get into the Kabul airport as Taliban fighters cut off access.

On Wednesday, several of the Americans trying to get out former Afghan colleagues, women’s advocates, journalists, and other vulnerable Afghans noted little concrete U.S. action so far to get those Afghans past Taliban checkpoints.

Many reportedly fear they will not be able to get through U.S-controlled airport gates to promised evacuation flights before the U.S. deadline for withdrawal expires Tuesday.

The said Tuesday that the U.S. has evacuated or helped evacuate nearly 60,000 people from Afghanistan since August 14.
More than 20,000 of them were airlifted out overnight on Monday.

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