A Taliban leader has announced that music will be banned in Afghanistan and women will be required to travel with a male chaperone on trips that last several days, even as he promises the Taliban will be more liberal than they were 20 years ago.
In an interview with the New York Times, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said while women will eventually be allowed to return to work and go on trips to school, and hospitals, they would need a male chaperone for trips that last several days.
And music will be banned in the country.
‘Music is forbidden in Islam, but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressure them,’ Mujahid said.
Still, he said, things will be different under this Taliban rule than the previous regime.
‘We want to build the future and forget what happened in the past,’ he said, rejecting reports that the Taliban is already extracting vengeance on those who opposed them and are trying to reimpose the harsh restrictions on women that made them notorious when they first took control in 1996.
In an interview with the New York Times, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said while women will eventually be allowed to return to work and go on trips to school, and hospitals, they would need a male chaperone for trips that last several days
He suggested to the New York Times that the Taliban will let women return to their jobs in the future – as long as they wear a head covering – and said concerns that the Taliban would once again force women to stay inside or cover their faces are baseless.
During their previous time in power, Afghan women could only leave the house in a burqa – a shapeless covering which covers the head and entire body, with only a fabric mesh to see out of.
He also said that those with proper travel documents will be able to leave the country, and that his regime will not hunt down former interpreters and others who have worked with the American military over the years, but expressed frustration at American evacuation efforts.
‘They shouldn’t interfere in our country and take out our human resources: doctors, professors and other people we need here,’ Mujahid said. ‘In America, they might become dishwashers or cooks. It’s inhuman.’
But, he said, he is still hopeful that the Taliban could build good relationships with the international community, saying they have already cooperated with international leaders on issues like counterterrorism, opium eradication and the reduction of refugees to the West.
Taliban fighters stood guard at a checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan
The Taliban promises they will be more liberal under their new regime
The terrorist group had previously been in control of Afghanistan from 1996 – 2001
Mujahid’s remarks come one day after he announced at a press conference that women should remain inside ‘until we have a new procedure’ in place, while the Taliban trains its forces not to harass women.
‘We are worried our forces, who are new and have not been yet trained very well, may mistreat women,’ he said. ‘We don’t want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women.’
In the meantime, he said, women’s salaries will be paid in their homes, echoing what Ahmadullah Waseq, the deputy of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee, told the Times: that the Taliban has ‘no problems with working women’ as long as they wear hijabs.
Mujahid expressed his frustration with America’s efforts to evacuate Afghanis who helped the military over the past 20 years. Here evacuees are seen boarding a Coeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport
Afghans line up outside a bank to take out cash as people keep waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave the country after Taliban’s takeover
Many who want to leave the country are still stuck waiting at the airport
But under the old Taliban rule, women were not allowed to attend school and faced public flogging if they were found to have violated morality rules, like one requiring that they be fully covered.
At the time, the Times reports, the Taliban also said the restrictions on women will be temporary.
‘The explanation was that the security was not good, and they were waiting for security to be better, and then women would be able to have more freedom,’ said Heather Barr, the associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch.
‘But of course in those years they were in power, that moment never arrived – and I can promise you Afghan women hearing this today are thinking it will never arrive this time either.’
She said the Taliban is only claiming to be more liberal as they have the world’s media attention on them.
‘They’re trying to look normal and legitimate and this will last as long as the international community and the international press are still there,’ she said. ‘And then we’ll see what they’re really like again.’
US citizens are told to STOP coming to Kabul airport due to terror threat leaving up to 1.5K including 23 California students stranded: Blinken BLAMES them for not leaving earlier as CIA start helicopter rescue missions
American citizens trying to get in to Kabul airport and leave the country were told on Wednesday night to immediately leave the area, due to a new and sudden terror threat.
‘Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so,’ the State Department tweeted on Wednesday night.
‘Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.’
The order to leave the gates was issued at 3:30am local time in Kabul on Thursday morning.
Fears are mounting that the Islamic State affiliate in the region, ISIS-K, could try and launch an attack on the crowds masses outside the airport. Joe Biden on Tuesday warned that ISIS-K were believed to be attempting to target departing jets, as he explained why it was unlikely that U.S. forces will remain in the area beyond August 31.
Up to 1,500 Americans are still trapped in Afghanistan and the U.S. is still relying on the Taliban to allow safe passage to Kabul airport with just six days before the deadline, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Blinken gave his first briefing on the airlift operation and the bid to get all citizens and Afghan allies out amid reports the CIA has joined U.S. troops in helicopter rescue missions outside the airport perimeter.
Thousands of people are still trying to leave Afghanistan as U.S. troops start leaving and evacuation flights begin to wrap up, but are being stopped and beaten by insurgents on their way.
Among those left are 23 school children from California Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents who visited the war zone on a summer trip to see extended family and haven’t been able to leave.
Blinken blamed Americans still on the ground for not leaving fast enough after first being warned earlier this year to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, but said there would be ‘no deadline’ in helping those who still want to leave.
He spoke as a CIA officer told DailyMail.com that American civilians and Afghan allies have just 72 hours before evacuations end and Biden cracked a joke about the evacuation crisis at a cybersecurity summit.
NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked the president what he would do if there were Americans trapped in Afghanistan after August 31.
The microphone was cut before Biden could reply, but he cracked a smile and said ‘You’ll be the first person I call.’
Blinken said the US has been in ‘direct contact’ with roughly 500 confirmed U.S. citizens and ‘provided specific instructions for how to get to the airport safely.’
The State Department said there are roughly 1,000 other people whose status is still being established.
‘We’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day,’ he said of those 1,000 people, adding they’re looking ‘to determine whether they still want to leave and to get them the most up-to-date information and instructions for them on how to do so.’
‘Some may no longer be in the country. Some may have claimed to be Americans but turn out not to be. Some may choose to stay,’ Blinken said
‘We’ll continue to try and identify the status and plans of these people in the coming days.’
A short time later a journalist covering Afghanistan wrote on Twitter that the Taliban blocked all roads leading to Kabul airport.
Only Afghans ‘accompanied by foreigners’ are reportedly allowed through.
‘Taliban refused to let a friend, a dual Afghan-Australian citizen, from entering airport today,’ Frud Bezhan wrote.
Blinken announced Wednesday that up to 1,500 Americans – 500 who are verified US citizens – are still stuck in Afghanistan
About 4,500 U.S. citizens and immediate family members have been evacuated over the last 10 days.
As many as 6,000 Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were in the country when the Taliban took Kabul last week.
Biden posted a statement to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon vowing to help people still stuck there but did not provide further explanation.
‘We’re going to do everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for Americans, our Afghan allies, partners, and Afghans who might be targeted because of their association with the United States,’ the president wrote.
The CIA has joined the US military in evacuation efforts, launching clandestine operations to rescue Americans in and outside of Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reports. The military’s operations have been more limited in comparison, focusing on US citizen trapped within the Afghan capital.
CIA operations include air and ground missions and use US military helicopters under the agency’s control.
At least two dozen Americans students and parents are among those still stuck in Kabul. After taking a summer trip to visit grandparents and other extended family, 24 students and 16 parents from the Cajon Valley Union School District are trying to get to the airport with less than a week before the US leaves the country. the LA Times reports.
Cajon Valley Superintendent David Miyashiro said that officials who work with the school district’s FACE program as interpreters and liaisons were contacted by a family concerned its student would lose a seat in the classroom last week when classes began, a local CBS affiliate reports.
The concern was echoed by several other families who missed their scheduled flights home for the first day of school on August 17.
The district said they arrived on special U.S. military visas, and states the trip was not school-sanctioned. Officials at the district just outside of San Diego said the students are safe but that it’s not certain when they could return home.
A family of five from the same school district is back in the U.S. after escaping from Afghanistan, 10 News reports.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today she has ‘no additional information’ on the stranded students when asked and appeared confused at the report.
‘I’m happy to take their information if there’s something more detailed,’ she said.
The U.S. has ramped up their airlifts and have evacuated 19,000 people in the last 24 hours and have already started pulling out military forces with just six days until the deadline, which Biden has promised to stick to.
Desperate Afghan men, women and children have swarmed the airport in a bid to get out amid fears of an attack from the Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K and 10,000 evacuees are inside the gates waiting to get out.
Hundreds of people gather near an airport evacuation control checkpoint. American civilians and Afghan allies have just 72 hours before evacuations end, a CIA officer told DailyMail.com
Fears of a stampede toward the airport are concerning officials as the withdrawal winds down and people grow more desperate to flee
American troops and the CIA have been conducting rescue missions to get people stranded outside of the airport to safety
‘It is hard to overstate the complexity and danger of this effort. We are operating in an hostile environment, in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban, with a very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack,’ Blinken said Wednesday.
Asked to take responsibility for the chaos, he responded: ‘I take responsibility. I know the president has said he takes responsibility.’
‘There will be plenty of time to look back at the last six or seven months, to look back at the last 20 years and to see what we might have done differently,’ as well as sooner or more effectively,’ he said.
Blinken said right now his ‘entire focus is on the mission at hand.’
It was also revealed that a military operation recovered ‘less than 20 people’ by helicopter from Kabul under cover of darkness and brought them safely to the airport for evacuation. It comes in addition to two other operations outside the airport walls confirmed by the Pentagon, including a mission to bring 169 Americans ‘over the wall’ that Biden announced Monday.
‘So last night, during the period of darkness, there was an operation to be able to go out and safely evacuate evacuees back into Kabul. They’re at [Hamid Karzai International Airport], and they’re safely there preparing to be evacuated,’ Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday.
In a White House briefing the same day Psaki said the administration suspected many of the 1,000 prospective Americans who may be looking to leave are dual-citizens or ‘people who may not be ready to leave for a variety of reasons.’
‘For many of these Afghans, this is their home. And yes they are dual-citizens, yes it is absolutely our responsibility to make sure we are reaching out to them multiple times. We are providing opportunity, we are finding ways to get them to the airport to evacuate them, but it is also their personal decision on whether they want to depart,’ she said.
During the briefing Psaki was asked how the Biden administration will determine whether every American who wants to leave will get to do so by the deadline.
The press secretary clarified that some of those Americans could ‘have not yet decided to depart by August 31.’
‘We know that is a potential, so therefore we’re looking at a range of options for how we can allow them to depart and enable them to depart after that date and time,’ she said.