Is the 'Taliban's negotiator' under house arrest in the UAE?
Various media outlets are claiming that Agha Jan Mutasim, who has been described as "a leading Taliban peace negotiator" and "one of the key Taliban leaders and who supported Afghan peace initiative," is under house arrest in the United Arab Emirates (see this report from Dawn, which is likely a compilation from the wire services).
While we can't confirm or deny that Mutasim is under house arrest, we are certain that he isn't leading negotiations for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is the official name of the Afghan Taliban.
As we've noted here several times at LWJ, the Taliban have denounced Mutasim two times in the past in statements published on Voice of Jihad. The last time was on Feb. 20, when the Taliban said:
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan once again declares to all parties that Agha Jan Mutasim does not hold a position in the Islamic Emirate and neither can he represent it.
Also in that statement, the Taliban said that Mutasim's actions are "detrimental" to both the Taliban and "the goals of the sacred Jihad." [See LWJ report, Afghan Taliban denounces former senior official, denies involvement in peace talks.]
The Taliban previously disowned Mutasim in another official statement that was released on Voice of Jihad in August 2012. In that statement, the Taliban said Mutasim "was dismissed from his post by the leader of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the year 2010 for stepping over his bounds and for lacking transparency in his work."
"He currently does not hold any posts with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and neither can he represent the Islamic Emirate in any of his statements and actions," the statement continued.
This section from LWJ's report on the last Taliban denunciation of Mutasim and other Taliban poseurs who have attempted to claim to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan over the years bears repeating:
Mutasim is part of a circle of former Taliban leaders and spokesmen who have been expelled from the Taliban and still claim to represent the group in negotiations with the Afghan government and the US. This group includes Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, and Mullah Mohamed Tayeb Agha. The Taliban has openly denounced many of these leaders as "stooges" and pawns of the Afghan government and the West.
Mutawakil served as the Taliban's foreign minister in 2001 and broke ranks after Omar refused to hand over Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks. He surrendered to US forces in 2002 and has repeatedly tried to negotiate peace agreements.
Zaeef served as the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan at the time of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He was detained by Pakistani security forces in 2002 and was sent to the Guantanamo Detention Facility in Cuba before he was released in 2006. Prior to his arrest he had been considered a candidate to join the interim Afghan government.
Agha was a spokesman for Mullah Omar in the 1990s but has since fallen out of favor with the Taliban leadership.
And Mutasim's fall from grace with the Taliban was swift. Almost immediately after being dismissed from his post in 2010, he was gunned down and left for dead in Karachi, Pakistan. Mutasim survived and fled to Turkey, where he received medical treatment.