Taliban top dog: ‘Success of the Afghan jihad is a source of pride for Afghans and for Muslims all over the world’

Grab five “Afghanistan experts” from the State Department or the U.S. military, and I would bet that not one of them could explain from Akhunzada’s perspective why the “success of the Afghan jihad” would be a “source of pride” for “Muslims all over the world.” The willful ignorance at the top was at astounding levels from the beginning to the end of the Afghan misadventure.

“Taliban supreme leader addresses major gathering in Kabul,” Al Jazeera, July 1, 2022:

Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, the reclusive supreme leader of the Taliban, has attended a major gathering of religious leaders and elders in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

More than 3,000 men were expected to attend the three-day gathering that started on Thursday in Kabul’s Polytechnic University and is expected to rubber-stamp the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan.

The arrival on Friday of Akhunzada, who had not been filmed or photographed in public since the group returned to power in August last year, was broadcast on state radio. Cheers and chants, including “Long live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, the Taliban’s name for the country, were heard.

“The success of the Afghan jihad is not only a source of pride for Afghans but also for Muslims all over the world,” Akhunzada said in a speech, according to state-run Bakhtar News Agency, using the Arabic word signifying a spiritual struggle….

“Why is the world interfering in our affairs?” he was quoted as saying. “They say ‘why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that?’ Why does the world interfere in our work?”…

Akhunzada, who is believed to be in his 70s and bears the title “Commander of the Faithful,” rarely leaves Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace and spiritual heartland. Apart from one undated photograph and several audio recordings of speeches, he has almost no digital footprint….

The leader’s presence raised the security alert. On Thursday, two gunmen were shot dead near the venue. Officials said the two started firing from a rooftop but were “quickly eliminated by mujahideen with the help of Allah the almighty”….

The Taliban notably did not call the gathering a Loya Jirga – a traditional Afghan way for local leaders to have their grievances heard by rulers – instead titling it “the Great Conference of Ulema”, the term in Islam for religious scholars and clerics….

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