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CNN Praises Taliban For Wearing Masks During Attack


KABUL—Approximately twelve minutes after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have completely taken over the entire country.

“Woah, that’s a bummer,” said the Biden Administration’s foreign policy team. “We didn’t see that one coming.” 

As the Taliban began its campaign of shooting and killing, as is their time-honored tradition, CNN anchors gushed with praise after noticing all the Taliban fighters were responsibly wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID.

“Wow! In the midst of the battle and bloodshed, these noble desert knights of Islamic superiority are wearing masks! Bravo!” said Brian Stelter. 

TV anchor and world-renown polemicist Don Lemon was also quick to weigh in. “All things considered, we ought to be praising the COVID-safe masks these majestic mujahideen warriors are wearing,” he said. 

“They are showing all of us the proper way to behave during a pandemic—something those horrible idiot Trump supporters don’t seem to get.”

Inspired by their example, the Biden Administration has invited the Taliban to the White House to record TikTok videos in hopes of convincing Trump supporters to get vaccinated.


Afghanistan conflict: As Kabul falls, Biden backlash grows

BBC NEWS — The lightning advance of the Taliban in retaking the country has led Afghan Americans, former generals and leading statesmen to blame President Joe Biden for a hasty US withdrawal. But he appears to have the public on his side – for now.

Hadia Essazada wept as she recounted the horror the Taliban visited on her household, first beating her father, and then killing her brother.

The first time “they were beating my father with an iron rod because they were looking for my elder brother”, who had fought to resist their rule in the 1990s, she told BBC Persian.

They fled their house in the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif, but “after six months when we returned to our home, Taliban again came to visit us. And they took my younger brother”.

“I don’t know how many days had passed when a shopkeeper in our neighborhood came to my father to tell him his son was killed,” she said.

The Taliban had executed him and dragged his body through the streets. Relatives were not allowed to collect his body for burial for weeks, and by then, dogs had been allowed to desecrate the remains.

Ms Essazada, today in her 20s and living in the US, said she now feared for the security of both Afghanistan and her new home, America, now that the Taliban is in control once more.

“The Taliban has not changed a bit,” she said, predicting that the West will be targeted by militants who she believes will be given shelter by the group. “Do you really want to go back to Afghanistan again?”


Taliban Boasts of Seizing Black Hawk Helicopters, US Jets After Capturing Kandahar Airport – Video

SPUTNIK — A video has emerged on social media allegedly showing Taliban* militants flying in a helicopter that the group had seized from retreating government forces. The insurgent group’s fighters also repeatedly reported capturing small arms and armored vehicles supplied by the US to Afghanistan.

Some of the military vehicles previously operated by the Afghan Air Force stationed at Kandahar Airport have apparently ended up in the hands of the Taliban* after the terrorist group seized an airbase earlier this week.

Footage reportedly showing #Taliban at Kandahar airport #Afghanistan with 2 #US supplied UH-60 Blackhawk (one under maintenance, one on apron) and 2 stored Mi-17 Hip helicopters — Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 14, 2021

In a series of videos and photos released by the terrorist group, at least two UH-60 Black Hawks and two Mi-17 helicopters can be seen apparently left by the retreating government forces at the airport. The Black Hawks were supplied by the US and are a part of Washington’s $88 billion spending on the security of the country and efforts to boost the Afghan military’s preparedness to fight the Taliban without any external assistance.

Additionally, a person can be heard in the background claiming that a total of five military helicopters and several jets had been seized by the Taliban at Kandahar Airport. The videos, however, suggest that not all of the equipment might be operational. One Mi-17 is missing rotor blades, while another is covered in a sheet with its blades either missing, or folded, or removed for storage.


Biden’s ‘fall of Saigon’ in Afghanistan presents worst moment yet of presidency

THE HILL — Fast forward one month, and the outcome is already a disaster, with the worst yet to come in Afghanistan. The Taliban has seized city after city and province after province with little resistance, and on Sunday has completely taken over the country, including in stunningly rapid fashion the capital city of Kabul, per multiple reports. Consequently, the U.S. embassy is rapidly being evacuated via helicopter.

“None whatsoever,” Biden replied. “Zero. What you had is you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

Fast forward one month, and the outcome is already a disaster, with the worst yet to come in Afghanistan. The Taliban has seized city after city and province after province with little resistance, and on Sunday has completely taken over the country, including in stunningly rapid fashion the capital city of Kabul, per multiple reports. Consequently, the U.S. embassy is rapidly being evacuated via helicopter.

“What is abnormal is the scale of American helicopters circulating around the area of the embassy,” CNN reported early Sunday. “I have not seen anything like this in 20 years, in terms of the volume,” according to a CNN report early Sunday.


President Ashraf Ghani Flees Afghanistan

BREITBART — President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Sunday following the arrival of Taliban forces to the nation’s capital, Kabul, Afghan outlet Tolo News reported.

Tolo added that, according to Taliban sources, Ghani had agreed to a formal resignation. Ghani reportedly took his top aides with him.

Reuters reported on Sunday the Taliban were still working to confirm Ghani’s whereabouts as of press time. Ghani’s office declined to comment on his apparent abandonment of the nation, refusing to “say anything about Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security reasons.” The outlet suggested he was bound for neighboring Tajikistan, like many Afghan troops fleeing the battlefield.

Ghani has served as president since 2014.

Ghani appeared before the nation in a pre-recorded speech on Saturday claiming that he was working to “remobilize” the Afghan military to fight the Taliban.

“Under the current situation, remobilizing of the security and defense forces is our top priority and required measures are underway for this purpose,” Ghani said, vowing to work to prevent “further killings, loss of the gains of the last 20 years, destruction of public property and continued instability.”

Ghani’s reported flight follows the Taliban reconquest of many of the nation’s major cities, including Herat and Kandahar. While Kabul has yet to fall, American forces and those of allied nations are scrambling to evacuate their civilian personnel, expecting the Taliban to claim the city at any time.


Unpredictable consequences from the Afghan crisis

THE JERUSALEM POST — The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rapid advance of the Taliban are not necessarily a simple cause and effect. The US had very few troops in Afghanistan, and they weren’t doing much fighting for years. The Taliban appear to have planned a massive offensive, unlike anything seen in the past, likely with foreign intelligence and other support, after having sent delegations to Russia, China, Iran, Qatar and Pakistan. This means that what is happening has unforeseen consequences. There are many unanswered questions. The New York Times claims that “few will gang up on the U.S. for finally stopping a failed enterprise.” But in the longer term, “the notion that you cannot count on the Americans will strike deeper roots because of Afghanistan.’’ This may underpin some European reactions, according to the article. What is more perplexing is that other NATO members, including European countries, also withdrew from Afghanistan and yet, oddly, this doesn’t erode confidence in whether anyone can count on NATO or European countries. The unspoken point may be that no one was counting on NATO or European states anyway, so it was America’s war to lose. There many arguments floating around now about whether things had to turn out this way in Afghanistan. An article at The Dispatch by Paul Miller argues it didn’t have to end like this. The US could have kept training the Afghan army until it was ready to fight. They could have given Kabul more leverage in discussions with the Taliban. It’s hard to know. Many countries appear to be rushing in to feast on the failure. Turkey wants to have discussions with the Taliban and run the airport. Iran, working with China, sees a silver lining in Afghanistan. As Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China and Turkey prepare to rush in, European countries are evacuating embassy staff. [READ MORE]

The Taliban dragged accused thieves through the streets with nooses around their necks and faces painted black

BUSINESS INSIDER — The Taliban were seen dragging men accused of theft through the streets of the newly-captured city of Herat in Afghanistan on Friday.

Photos taken by journalist Bilal Sarwary show men tarred in black with nooses around their necks being paraded through the streets as armed militants flank them. Some of the militants are pictured pulling at the nooses.

“Taliban accused these men of theft, their faces were colored with black color, to embarrass them and were paraded in Herat city after the Friday prayers,” Sarwary wrote alongside the pictures.

Another video shows a crowd of people following the men.

The images come one day after the Taliban seized control of Herat, which is the country’s third-largest city.

“The city looks like a frontline, a ghost town,” provincial council member Ghulam Habib Hashimi told Reuters. “Families have either left or are hiding in their homes.”

Taliban insurgents also seized Afghanistan’s second-largest city, Kandahar, on Friday.

A US defense official has since said there is mounting concern that the militant could make a move on Kabul, the country’s capital, within days.

“Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment, but clearly … if you just look at what the Taliban has been doing, you can see that they are trying to isolate Kabul,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, according to Reuters.


Afghanistan: Taliban close in on Kabul as last government stronghold in north falls – live updates

THE GUARDIAN — What are we expecting to happen in coming days?

The Taliban have said they will not stop fighting until the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, resigns. Ghani held urgent talks with local leaders and international partners on Saturday, but gave no sign of responding to the Taliban’s demand, saying “reintegration of the security and defense forces is our priority, and serious measures are being taken in this regard”.

Ghani’s resignation would help to avoid many, many deaths in a battle for Kabul, which is why he is facing international pressure to do so.

Activists have however warned of targeted killings in areas that fell under Taliban control in recent weeks.

There have also been restrictions brought in on women’s rights, which have raised fears the country is returning to the harsh restrictions of Taliban rule in the 1990s, even though the group’s envoys have promised they respect women’s rights under Islam. In Kandahar women were ordered from banking jobs at gunpoint, and told that male relatives could take their place, Reuters reported. And after Herat fell to the Taliban, rights activists said that women have been barred from the university, where they make up over half of students.


Islamic State returning to insurgent roots as caliphate disappears

(CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR) — After being nearly defeated on the battlefields of its would-be caliphate, the Islamic State group has reverted to what it was before its spectacular conquests in 2014, analysts say – a shadowy insurgent network that targets civilian populations with guerrilla-style attacks and exploits state weaknesses to incite sectarian strife.

In Iraq and Syria, hardly a week goes by without the group staging an attack on a town or village, keeping its opponents on edge even as it fights US-backed forces advancing on the last remaining slice of territory under its control near the countries’ shared border.

Hisham al-Hashimi, an IS expert who advises the Iraqi government, said the group now operates like it did in 2010, before its rise in Iraq, which culminated four years later with the militants seizing one of Iraq’s biggest cities, Mosul, and also claiming the city of Raqqa in Syria and declaring an Islamic caliphate across large areas of both countries.

Mr. Al-Hashimi said the world’s most dangerous insurgent group is trying to prove that despite losing its territorial hold, “it still has long arms to strike.”

While it fends off attacks on its remaining pockets in Syria, a recent surge in false claims of responsibility for attacks also signals that the group is struggling to stay relevant after losing its proto-state and its dominance on the international news agenda. The main figures behind the group’s once sleek propaganda machine have mostly been killed. Raqqa fell a year ago this month, and the group has lost all but 2 percent of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.


With boundaries blurring between criminals and terrorists, international cooperation’s vital, UN highlights

(UN NEWS) — Terror groups are getting increasingly-involved in “lucrative” criminal activities such as trading in natural resources and human trafficking, Michèle Coninsx, the Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), told the Security Council briefing on the issue.

Similarly, criminal groups join hands with terrorists, and are providing services such as counterfeiting, arms dealing, and helping to smuggle terrorists from one country to another, she said.

“We know that terrorist groups recruit individuals with criminal background or criminal skills, and petty crimes are committed to finance terrorist activities, including travel of foreign terrorist fighters,” explained Ms. Coninsx, noting that conflicts and instability further entrench such deal-making.

The head of CTED said her office and other parts of the UN counter-terror effort, such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), were working together to address the scourge.

She also highlighted the Executive Directorate’s work with UN Member States, identifying good practices, including joint investigative units and effective prosecution mechanisms, to handle organized crime and terrorism.

Looking ahead, Ms. Coninsx urged the international community to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and its support structures, especially to identify new terrorist trends, map linkages between terrorists and criminal groups, and share information more effectively.
Links between organized crime and terrorism ‘not new’

At the briefing, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, the Chair of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), said that the links between terrorism and international crime syndicates is not new and has been high on the agenda of the Security Council as well as the General Assembly, for a long time.[READ MORE]