Spokesmen for the movement that seized power in the country in mid-August said Sunday that the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hebatullah Akhundzada, who has never appeared in public, is in Afghanistan, in the city of Kandahar.
“He is in Kandahar. He has been living there since the beginning,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
“It will soon appear in public,” deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi said.
The exact role of Hebatullah Akhundzada, who has been leading the Taliban since 2016, is not known, as his public activity is limited to annual messages during Islamic holidays.
It has never appeared in public, even since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces.
The Taliban has always kept its supreme leader in the shadows.
The movement’s founder, the mysterious Mullah Muhammad Omar, was known to lead the life of a hermit and rarely visited Kabul when the Taliban seized power in the country in the 1990s.
Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban.
The revelation comes on the same day that nearly a hundred countries, including Portugal, pledged to continue issuing visas to people who want to leave Afghanistan, and said they expected Taliban Islamic fundamentalists to keep their promise to allow them to join.
In a joint declaration signed by 97 countries, the Secretary-General of NATO and the European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, released today by the US State Department, he affirmed his commitment to ensuring that their citizens, officials and Afghans who have worked with him “may continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan.”
They confirmed that they had received “assurances from the Taliban” that any Afghan holding a “travel permit” issued by any of the signatory countries could reach “safe and orderly” departure points outside Afghanistan.
“We have expectations and the commitment of the Taliban [pessoas com autorização de viagem] Can travel to our countries. They referred to the Taliban’s public statements confirming this agreement.”
The United States today slowed the pace of evacuating people from Afghanistan, as 2,900 citizens were evacuated from the capital’s airport, Kabul, less than half the number on Saturday and less than a quarter of what happened on Friday.
People were evacuated on 32 US and nine international coalition aircraft.
And the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), announced, on Saturday, that the final stage of the withdrawal from Afghanistan had begun with the exit of military equipment and the beginning of the withdrawal of about 5,000 US soldiers who were still at Kabul Airport.
On the 15th, the Taliban entered Kabul without resistance, having seized virtually every province in the country, prompting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country.
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