Taliban appoint ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released in 2007 under George W Bush and went on to become Taliban military mastermind as new Afghan government defence minister
- Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir was reportedly released from Guantanamo in 2007
- Was originally arrested by US forces after their invasion of Afghanistan in 2001
- Zakir was in charge of force who entered the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul
A former Guantanamo Bay detainee has been appointed as the Taliban’s acting defence minister after the group’s takeover of Afghanistan, according to reports.
Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, who was born in 1973, was released from the notorious Cuba-based camp, which is run by the US, during George W Bush’s Presidency in 2007, according to Arab news sources.
He was originally arrested by US forces after their invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Zakir reportedly carried the number eight while in prison.
After his release from Guantanamo, he is said to have directed military operations in Helmand before taking over as the Taliban’s general military commander.
On Tuesday, Arab news channel cited Al-Jazeera cited Taliban sources and reported that Zakir is now to become the group’s defence minister.
Zakir is said to be a ‘personal friend’ of Ismail Qaani – the head of Iran’s elite Quds force – and has previously received sophisticated weapons systems from the Middle East neighbour.
According to Arab news site Alarby, Zakir was in charge of the force who entered the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul earlier this month after the official government led by president Ashraf Ghani collapsed.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir has been appointed as the Taliban’s acting defence minister after the group’s takeover of Afghanistan, according to reports. Above: Zakir is believed by online sources to be the man fifth from left in this image, which shows Taliban fighters after they had stormed the presidential palace in Kabul last week. According to Arab news site Alarby , Zakir was in charge of the force who entered the palace
Zakir (believed to be pictured centre during his internment at Guantanamo), who was born in 1973, was released from the notorious Cuba-based camp, which is run by the US, in 2007, according to Arab news sources
Zakir is also said to have been a vehement opponent of peace talks which took place between the Taliban and the Afghan government before the takeover.
Born in Helmand Province, Zakir reportedly emigrated from Afghanistan to Pakistan after finishing school.
He is said to have then joined one of the political parties fighting against Soviet occupation of the country, which came to an end in 1989.
Zakir then joined the newly-formed Taliban after it emerged under the leadership of Mullah Omar.
Syria commentator Charles Lister said on Twitter this evening that, according to Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwari, Zakari is friends with Iran’s Qaani and has received some of the country’s ‘most sophisticated weapons systems’ in the past.
U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his at cell at Guantanamo in January 11, 2001
Lister added that the appointment was a ‘sign of things to come’ and said Zakir had reportedly been a ‘vehement’ opponent of peace talks with the Afghan government.
News of Zakir’s promotion comes after Joe Biden today shrugged off pleas by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies to extent the Kabul evacuation deadline to beyond August 31.
The Taliban warned it will not tolerate delay Western troops’ departure.
Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel used a G7 meeting to urge the US President to keep the operation going longer, but the entreaties appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
White House sources said Mr Biden had instead agreed with the Pentagon that there would be no change to the timeline of the mission.
A humiliated Mr Johnson said after the G7 summit that the UK will continue to conduct airlifts from the country ‘right up until the last moment’ as he pleaded with the Taliban to let people leave after the deadline.
He said the leaders had agreed that the ‘number one condition’ that the Taliban must meet moving forward is to ‘guarantee right the way through August 31 and beyond safe passage for those who want to come out’.
The Prime Minister insisted the G7 nations have ‘huge leverage’ over the Taliban because of the threat of sanctions as he said funding for the country would only be made available in the future if it meets the West’s expectations.
‘If those huge funds are going to be unfrozen eventually for use by the government and people of Afghanistan then what we are saying is Afghanistan can’t lurch back into becoming a breeding ground of terror, Afghanistan can’t become a narco state,’ he said.
Boris Johnson today pleaded with the Taliban to allow people to leave Afghanistan after the US has completed its withdrawal on August 31
The comments came after the Taliban repeating blood-curdling warnings of consequences if there was an attempt to cling on, saying no-one will be permitted to leave.
‘All people should be removed prior to that date,’ a spokesman told a press conference in the capital. ‘After that we do not allow them. We will take a different stance.’
According to Reuters, the Pentagon has told Mr Biden the risks to American forces are too high if they defy the Taliban.
It means troops will have to abandon the humanitarian operation and start focusing on their own exit plan as soon as tomorrow.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned of the danger of a ‘shooting war’ at the airport as the deadline approaches, after the RAF extracted another 2,000 people in the past 24 hours.
The White House tried to put a brave face on Joe Biden’s position, saying the G7 had talked about the ‘continuation of our close coordination’
Berlin and Paris have also been ramping up their evacuation, but there are still thousands of desperate people waiting to be taken to safety.
Efforts have been continuing on both sides of the Atlantic to get Mr Biden to change his approach, after he faced a furious backlash for his hamfisted handling of the crisis.
The US chair of the House Intelligence Committee has said the current timetable for evacuating America citizens and their allies is almost certain to fail.
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat – who served as an Army officer in Afghanistan – said all the UK could do was ‘ask the Americans if they’re willing to stand with us’.
He added: ‘If they’re not then we can’t secure the perimeter and we can’t manage air traffic control, so if the Americans decide to go now I’m afraid that is it. But we can ask.’
Mr Tugendhat said he understands Mr Biden has to make ‘a very difficult decision’, but said many families are struggling to get through the gate and ‘a day, maybe two days longer, would help just a few more’.
Source: Read Full Article