The Taliban hoisted their flag above the Afghan presidential palace on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as news emerged that regime fighters had killed the brother of the country’s former vice president in a checkpoint in Panjshir province.
Rohullah Azizi, the brother of former vice president and anti-Taliban resistance leader Amrullah Saleh, was traveling in his car on Thursday when he and his driver were shot dead at a Taliban checkpoint, his nephew said on Saturday.
Shuresh Saleh said on Saturday it was not clear where his uncle, an anti-Taliban fighter, was heading when the Taliban caught him. He said phones were not working in the area.
A message left with a Taliban spokesperson on Saturday was not immediately returned.
Amrullah Saleh declared himself the legitimate interim president of Afghanistan and led the Taliban resistance forces in Panjshir. The new Afghan rulers have said they control Panjshir, but this is contested by the National Resistance Front, which says it continues to fight back. Videos circulating on social media allegedly show the Taliban opening fire on anti-Taliban fighters arrested in Panjshir.
As the United States and the world marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Saturday, the Taliban flag raising ceremony marked the official start of the all-male, all-Taliban government, a spokesperson said.
The white banner bearing a Qur’anic verse was hoisted by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban’s interim government, said Ahmadullah Muttaqi, head of the multimedia branch of the Taliban’s cultural commission.
This milestone anniversary came just weeks after the chaotic withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban, which had housed the al-Qaida terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden which carried out the attacks.
US President Joe Biden, speaking unexpectedly during a visit to the Pennsylvania site of one of the 9/11 plane crashes, again defended the widely criticized withdrawal, saying the United States United could not invade all the countries where al-Qaida is present.
“Could Al-Qaida come back [in Afghanistan]? “he asked in an exchange with reporters outside a Shanksville fire station.” Yes. But guess what, it’s already back elsewhere.
“What’s the strategy? Wherever al-Qaida is, are we going to invade it and leave the troops there? Let’s go. “
Biden said it had always been a mistake to think that Afghanistan could be truly united and that US forces had accomplished their central mission when a special forces team killed Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, May 2, 2011 at a compound in Pakistan.
On Saturday, the Taliban orchestrated a march of veiled women who filled an auditorium at Kabul University’s education center in a well-choreographed snub to the past 20 years of Western efforts to empower women. In fact, the Taliban have started issuing tough decrees that have affected women the most, such as banning women’s sports. They also used violence to stop protests where women demanded equal rights.
The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report