The Taliban released Mark Frerichs, an American veteran who has been held hostage since early 2020, in exchange for Haji Bashir Noorzai, a convicted Taliban drug kingpin who was serving a life sentence for smuggling heroin into the United States.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, who at the time was the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, was joined by his brother Badruddin Haqqani, Qari Zakir, the Taliban’s chief of suicide bombers, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a dangerous Haqqani leader, and Ghani Muhammad, an Al Qaeda-linked military commander based in Pakistan, in the video. They give a send off to the suicide assault team that attacked Forward Operating Base Fenty on Nov. 12, 2010.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader Omar Khalid Khurasani, who is believed to have given sanctuary to Ayman al Zawahiri in the past, has called for global jihad, attacks on the US, and the establishment of the caliphate, and celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. He is reported to have been killed in a district in Afghansitan that has hosted an Al Qaeda training camp in the past.
Edmund Fitton-Brown — outgoing coordinator of the UN Security Council Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring team and longtime friend of the show — joins Bill to discuss the killing of Al Qaeda emir Ayman Zawahiri, who died in a U.S. drone strike last Sunday.
The Haqqani Network, an integral part of the Taliban whose leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy emir and minister of the interior, is reported to have facilitated the negotiations.
Sanaullah Ghafar, who is also known as Shabab al-Muhajir, has been identified as an “ambitious new leader” of the Islamic State Khorasan Province. His challenge is to hold off the vastly superior Taliban, which controls Afghanistan.
Haji Mali Khan was a top Haqqani Network and Taliban leader when he was detained by the U.S. in 2011. He was freed in 2019 in exchange for a U.S. and an Australian professor who were kidnapped in Kabul in 2016.
In a message posted this week, Sirajuddin Haqqani provides guidance to the Taliban’s officials as they prepare to rule over newly seized territory. Haqqani explains that the campaign is evolving from a “military and jihadi” one into a “civilian situation,” meaning the Taliban is preparing to govern throughout much of the country.