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Dead or Alive? In the Footsteps of Taliban Supreme Leader Khibatullah Akhundzade – Current Events

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On October 30, two months after a Taliban spokesman assured Akhundzade that Akhundzade was in good health in Kandahar, rumors emerged that the “emir” had made a speech at a madrasah (Koranic school) in this southern city from the country.

The intention of the Taliban leaders was to prove the authenticity of his appearance, and for this they released an audio recording of over 10 minutes of his speech.

“May God reward the oppressed people of Afghanistan, who have fought against infidels and oppressors for 20 years,” says an elderly voice, allegedly from Akhundzade. His public profile was previously limited to annual written communications during Islamic holidays.

In one of the poorest parts of Kandahar, between a drainage ditch and a dusty road, two Taliban fighters guard the blue and white door of the Hakimiya madrasah. The site has been attracting crowds of viewers and Taliban supporters since October 30.

When the supreme leader visited us, he was “armed” and accompanied by “three guards,” Madrassah security chief Masum Shakrullah told AFP. “Even telephones or tape recorders were not allowed inside the complex,” he added. “We all looked at him and cried,” recalls Mohammed, one of the 19-year-old students.

When asked if he could confirm that it was Akhundzada, Mohammed noted that he and his comrades were so moved that “they forgot to look … in his face.”

The need for Taliban leaders to remain in the shadows has increased over the last decade of the war as deadly American drone attacks have increased. AFP has tried to track the leader’s whereabouts, but the results are inconclusive.

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Akhundzade took over command of the movement after his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansur, was killed in a bomb blast in 2016. The new leader quickly enlisted the support of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, who called him “the emir of the believers.”

The support of Osama bin Laden’s heir has provided him with credibility with former Taliban allies.

The Islamic Movement published a photo of Akhundzade only five years ago, when he became its leader. And this image, in which he appears with a gray beard, a white turban and a defiant gaze, was taken two decades ago, according to the Taliban.

His appearance helped dispel “rumors and propaganda” about his death, said Maulvi Said Ahmad, head of the Kandahar madrasah. Mohammed Musa, 13, who watched her from afar, said she looked “exactly”.

Afghan government leaders have been defeated, and many Western analysts are skeptical that the leader died years ago. For them, visiting the madrasah was a carefully organized farce.

This would not be new. For two years, the Taliban pretended that their founder, Mullah Omar, was alive after his death in 2013. Akhundzada “has long been dead and did not take part in the capture of Kabul,” a former government security official told AFP. …

According to the source, he died with his brother in a terrorist attack in Quetta, Pakistan “about three years ago.” This theory, with some variations, is considered credible by many foreign intelligence agencies.

Another source in the region’s security forces assures AFP that “no one will confirm or deny” the alleged death of the Taliban supreme leader. The Pentagon and CIA did not respond to AFP inquiries about this.

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In Panjway, an area located on a vast and arid plateau near Kandahar, everyone knows Akhundzadas, a line of respected theologians. Emir was born in the city of Spervan.

“During the Soviet invasion (1979), there was fighting in the city and Khibatullah left for Pakistan,” Niamatullah, a young guerrilla and former student of the leader, told AFP.

After his first move to Pakistan, Akhundzade became a respected scholar and received the title of Sheikh al-Islam, the title of which is awarded to the most prominent scholars of the Koran.

In the early 1990s, when Islamic rebels repelled the Soviet occupation, Akhundzade, in his 30s, returned home, consulting with guests “from the city and Pakistan,” recalls 65-year-old resident Abdul Qayum.

According to his official biography, his growth has been rapid since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in 1996. Akhundzada ran a local madrasah, worked as a judge in the provincial court of Kandahar, and then headed a military court in Nangarhar (eastern Afghanistan) until 2000.

When the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, he headed a military tribunal in Kabul. Akhundzada fled to Pakistan, taking refuge in Quetta. His knowledge of Islamic law has made him the head of the judiciary in the shadow of the Taliban and the recognized mentor of a generation of guerrillas trained in Quetta.

Akhundzada was “the center of gravity for the Taliban … keeping the group intact,” a member of the group in Pakistan told AFP. According to this source, who claims to have met with the supreme leader three times – most recently in 2020 – Akhundzade does not use modern technology.

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He prefers to make landline calls and communicate through letters with the Taliban leaders who make up the government and with whom he maintains a fluid dialogue.

Also according to this Taliban in Pakistan, the leader authorized the latest offensive against the former regime and monitored operations in Kandahar, where he will operate unnoticed for several months.

The continued threat of death even after the end of the war with the United States explains his prudence, several Taliban sources say. And if he was dead, a regional source points out that concerns about the local branch of the Islamic State extremist group EI-K would explain why the Taliban are covering up his death.

“If they announce that Akhundzada is gone and that they are looking for a new emir, it will divide the Taliban and the EI-K will take advantage of it,” he says. However, the radical group rejects all assumptions. The emir is “going the old-fashioned way,” his spokesman told AFP. “He doesn’t have to ‘appear in public.’

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Spain: it is already known where the trap envelopes were sent

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The Spanish police claim that six trap parcels that arrived at diplomatic missions and ministries were sent from the city of Valladolid.

Despite the established origin, the authorities still don’t know who’s to blamesince the letters will be placed in regular mailboxes.

The first evidence of the investigation is related to only one of the six packages was able to be deactivated without damage🇧🇷 These are homemade devices with powder charges. The police managed to carry out controlled explosions in four devices.

In the period from November 24 to December 2, parcels with pyrotechnic materials arrived at the diplomatic missions of Ukraine and the United States, the Ministry of Defense and in the office of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Meanwhile, the security of public buildings, government and embassies strengthens🇧🇷 Despite the written bombs sent out, the authorities decided that it was not worth raising the level of terrorist threat.

On Friday, Spain’s interior minister recommended to the European Commission and partner countries take action if they received such trap letters with the recognition of their possible attitude towards the war in Ukraine.

The advice was accepted by Portuguese diplomacy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent Portuguese embassies to increase caution when receiving mail.

The MNE of Portugal acknowledged that a circular with recommendations was sent to the Portuguese missions and embassies, but chose not to give further details about the proceduresciting security concerns.

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Qatar treats Santos Silva better than Marcelo

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Joao Sena

In Doha, Augusto Santos Silva guaranteed that there would be no problems between Portugal and Qatar. “The two countries have tense diplomatic relations. Qatar is one of the Gulf states where we have a permanent ambassador and it is a strategic region for us,” said the second representative of the Portuguese state. And he also mentioned that there are several points that “should not be forgotten” in order to maintain good bilateral relations. Referring to his experience as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he recalled two facts: “First, it is that, unfortunately, the former Portuguese Ambassador to Qatar, Ricardo Prachana, died in office and the support provided by the Qatari authorities was unsurpassed. (…) Second fact [foi] when we had to remove dozens of people from Afghanistan, namely Afghans who collaborated with the Portuguese armed forces, in a very difficult operation. We did this because we had Pakistan’s support on the ground route and Qatar’s support on the air route.” Santos Silva’s agreement with the Qatari authorities goes even further when he praises “the very clear position that Qatar has taken in the United Nations General Assembly condemning the war against Ukraine and the importance of the geopolitical and geo-economic perspective that this region has in the world today.”

moderate speech pleases

Santos Silva’s statements clearly show more cordiality compared to the speeches of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and António Costa (the so-called “hostile”), as well as the subsequent human rights narrative that has rattled the Qatari government to, as reported by Nascer do SOL in its latest issue, admitting that he blacklisted the country as soon as the World Cup is over, the same is happening with Germany, Denmark and France, which have followed the same type of discourse.

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Diplomatic efforts by Santos Silva appear to have helped mitigate the damage caused by the statements of Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, who at the Doha conference refocused on human rights violations, knowing that previous statements were considered “hostile”. ‘ by the Government of Qatar. The diplomatic corps immediately took action at the Palacio das Necessidades and in Doha to prevent the situation from escalating. A Portuguese delegation was sent to Qatar to ensure that Santos Silva’s trip would not bring more problems to Portugal and that the diplomatic calculation would have no repercussions.

In addition to his presence at the stadium to watch Portugal play, the President of the Assembly of the Republic met with the Qatari authorities, where “all matters of interest to both Portugal and Qatar” were considered. Homework was done well and Santos Silva was awarded state awards. He was met at the airport by Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and stayed at a hotel reserved exclusively for heads of state (instead of the Banyan Tree Hotel reserved for vice presidents and chairmen of parliaments). an attitude very different from that given to the President of the Republic during his visit to Qatar, as he was received by the daughter of the Sheikh of the Emirate, who was at the stadium in her private box without receiving the Portuguese head. The Qataris seem to know how to forgive but not forget.

Western hypocrisy

On the subject of human rights in Qatar, Angelo Correia, a former interior minister (de Cavaco Silva), believes this is “hypocrisy and a Western superiority complex.” Speaking to Nascer do SOL, the analyst and political commentator added that the West is “punishing itself for its past mistakes regarding the barbaric colonization of some countries in this region, while at the same time assuming the supremacy of the present as if nothing had happened in the past. In Europe there is a contradiction between sinning excess in this matter and showing superiority over those who are not yet on their way. This is an ambiguous, pompous and contradictory attitude.” But the political class is also responsible: “Portugal’s position towards Qatar left much to be desired in some circumstances, and some people and some parties showed a certain opportunism. There are currently two problems that elude the Portuguese democratic reality: the lack of memory and then the strong agitation for political correctness.”

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Relations between Portugal and Qatar have entered a less tense phase and the presence of Ana Catarina Méndez, Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs who replaced the Prime Minister, who canceled her trip for health reasons, in yesterday’s game in which Portugal lost to South Korea (1-2) an example of this. “This is the day we should all unite with the colors of Portugal, the colors of an open, modern and inclusive society that I am proud to represent,” he told Lusa.

António Costa is expected to go to the Round of 16 game on Tuesday and if the national team continues to compete, with Santos Silva reaching the quarter-finals and Marcelo Rebelo de Souza reaching the semi-finals, then… But one thing is for sure: an agreement is needed. official discourse so that the country is not blacklisted by the emirate.



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“Insidious wave” killed a passenger and injured four people during a cruise

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UOne person died and four were injured after a giant wave hit a cruise ship in Antarctica on Wednesday during a storm.

The cruise was bound for Ushuaia, Argentina – the main starting point for expeditions to Antarctica – when the “killer wave incident” occurred, according to a report by cruise line Viking Polaris quoted by CBS News this Friday.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm that a passenger has died as a result of the incident,” Viking Polaris said, noting that he had notified the victim’s family and expressed his “deepest condolences.”

Four other tourists “suffered non-life-threatening injuries” and were treated on board, the company said.

Speaking to WRAL-TV, Susie Gooding, a passenger on the cruise, said the wave’s impact was so “shocking” that passengers wondered if they had hit an “iceberg”.

“Everything was fine until a killer wave hit us and it happened all of a sudden,” Gooding said, adding that no one knew if “equipment needed to be prepared in order to leave the ship.”

Viking Polaris said it was “investigating facts related to this incident.”

Read also: Madeira is recognized as the “Best Cruise Destination in Europe”.

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