No place for Daesh/ISIS in Afghanistan: Taliban spokesman

KABUL, Afghanistan

The Afghan interim government has arrested over 670 militants of Daesh/ISIS, also known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP or ISIS-K), during the last three months, the Taliban spokesman said, adding that there is no place for these terrorists in Afghanistan.

During an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, the interim government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that 25 hideouts of the terrorist group have also been destroyed in Kabul and Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

“Daesh is no longer a big threat in Afghanistan. It was a small group that has now been dismantled in Kabul and Jalalabad,” Mujahid claimed.

He accused the former government of Ashraf Ghani of strengthening Daesh/ISIS in Kabul and Nangarhar province in order to use them against the Taliban.

Mujahid is also the acting deputy minister of culture and information of the Taliban’s interim government in Afghanistan.

Daesh/ISIS carried out several attacks after the Taliban took over Kabul in mid-August, including two deadly bombings in Shia mosques in the northern Kunduz and southern Kandahar provinces that killed nearly 100 people and wounded dozens of others in October this year.

“Initially, when we entered Kabul (in mid-August this year), there was no security and communication system, and that helped Daesh to carry out attacks and target mosques, and public places to spread fear among the civilians,” the Taliban spokesman said, adding that the vacuum provided them an opportunity to target civilians.

Mujahid was referring to the deadly bombing carried out by Daesh/ISIS in August near the Hamid Karzai Airport in the capital Kabul. At least 170 Afghans, including women and children, were killed and over 150 others wounded in the attack targeting a crowd of people who wanted to leave the country after the Taliban takeover.

“Earlier, Daesh had the support of former government forces but now we have destroyed their hideouts as these terrorists have no place in Afghanistan because the Afghan people have rejected their ideology,” Mujahid said, adding the arrested people are in jail and the government will deal with them under the Sharia law.

US to release Afghan funds

Responding to a question regarding the ongoing economic crisis in Afghanistan, Mujahid said the US had blocked their assets in August causing the economic crisis.

“The US move to freeze our assets was an act against international law,” he said.

However, he hoped that after the recent meeting of Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi with the US officials in Doha, Qatar, Washington will release their funds soon.

“Recently, our leaders met with the US officials in Doha and they assured us of releasing our funds,” he said, hoping the Taliban government will overcome the current economic crisis soon.

The US government has blocked over $9 billion of the Afghan Central Bank’s reserves, and many donors and organizations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have halted payments since the Taliban swept to power on Aug. 15.

Several countries, including China, Russia, Pakistan, and Qatar, have called on the US to allow Afghanistan to access its foreign reserves, but there have been no positive indications so far.

Taliban recovers $20M

Mujahid accused the former government officials of shifting millions of dollars from the country and said the Taliban recovered millions of dollars from the houses of former officials who fled the country.

“Our Mujahideen (fighters) recovered over $20 million from the presidential palace and houses of former top officials of the Ashraf Ghani government and deposited that money in the central bank,” Mujahid said.

In August, the Afghan Central Bank said it has received more than $12 million in cash and gold bricks found from the residences of former government officials, including former Vice President Amrullah Saleh.

Foreign interference

The Taliban government once again rejected the demand to form an inclusive government with the participation of former officials and called it “an interference in their country’s internal affairs”.

Responding to a question on if some Western countries demanded the Taliban adjust some representatives of the previous government in their Cabinet in order to be recognized, Mujahid said some countries are talking about an inclusive government but such demands are an interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

“If they [the Western countries] want to bring back them [previous government representatives] they would face public reaction and anger,” he said and added that Afghans know how to run their country.

He added the Taliban have already constituted an inclusive government that included representatives from all ethnic groups, including Tajiks, Baloch, Turkmens, Nuristanis, Uzbeks, and a number of other ethnic groups.

“[Can] Anyone show us an example in the world where opposition figures also occupy positions in the power,” Mujahid said.

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