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Concerns raised over govt official’s ‘involvement’ in Ghor journalist’s death



(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Media advocacy groups on Friday raised concerns over the safety of journalists after a Ghor provincial council member was killed in a skirmish with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) this week, who suspected him of having assassinated at least two public figures, including a journalist. 

The NDS had been investigating Ezatullah Bek in connection with the recent assassinations of journalist Bismellah Adel, and deputy head of the provincial council Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“If high-ranking government officials are involved in the murder of journalists, it raises our concerns and those of our colleagues; we urge the national security and the government of Afghanistan to make public all documents of the involvement of this member of the provincial council and other cases should be considered the same,” said Siddiqullah Tawhidi, Director of Media Watch.

The General Directorate of National Security (NDS) says that Bek was killed on Thursday after a clash with national security forces in the center of Ghor.

One NDS member was also killed in the skirmish and another was injured, the NDS added.

According to the NDS, Bek had been involved in targeted assassinations, equipping and financing the Taliban, and he was suspected of collaborating with the Taliban to eliminate internal opponents. 

The NDS meanwhile also published the confessions of a bodyguard as well as a member of Bek’s group. Both confessed to the assassination of Bismillah Adel and Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“Ehsanullah, who is the brother of Ezatullah, a member of the provincial council, repeatedly mentioned the name of a journalist Bismellah Adel and said that we should eliminate it,” said Nooruddin, a close ally of Ezatullah Bek.

“One morning Ehsan, the brother of Ezatullah, who is the commander of 20 Taliban, came to the back of the house and told us to take the mine (IED). We took the mine and stuck it on Abdul Rahim Rezazadah’s car,” said Rezwanullah, a bodyguard of Ezatullah Bek.

This latest development comes after a marked increase in targeted killings across the country – specifically against journalists and civil society members. 

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IEA hoping to increase the number of soldiers to as many as 200,000 by end of this solar year



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate’s ministry of defense says it plans to increase the number of the country’s national army soldiers from 150,000 to between 170,000 and 200,000 in the current solar year.

Qari Fasihuddin Fetrat, the army chief of staff, said in an interview that the IEA has all the military equipment from the previous government and that the army is ready to fight any potential threat.

“Inshallah, with this number, we can protect the entire territory of Afghanistan, but there is a need for other forces, and we have decided to increase the number of soldiers,” he said.

“In the current [solar] year, we have decided to increase the number of soldiers from 150,000 to 170,000 and slowly it will reach 200,000.”

Fetrat has also stated that reports about the formation of opposition groups outside the country, to stand against the IEA government, are a “dream”.

He emphasized that foreign countries exaggerate the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan and that the group does not have a strong presence in the country.

“Some of the acts of destruction that are carried out in Afghanistan are also carried out in many advanced countries, but despite that, the Islamic Emirate neutralized their efforts and plans,” he said.

“You can see that the security which is in Afghanistan today may not be in Washington,” he added.

In addition, the IEA’s army chief of staff also criticized the US for violating Afghanistan’s air space.

“We are trying to reach a level where the occupation of Afghanistan’s air sovereignty will end and it will be given to the Islamic Emirate,” said Fetrat.

According to him, in addition to the two military units in Bagram and Badakhshan, there are eight military corps including the Central Army Corps in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia, Laghman, Kunduz and Balkh.

He also said soldiers, who worked under the former government, are “perform duties within the framework of the defense ministry.”

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IEA downplays SCO concerns about threats emanating from Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

Responding to concerns voiced by the national security advisors of some regional countries at this week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in India, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday reiterated promises that Afghanistan’s soil would not be used against any country.

The spokesman for the Islamic Emirate Bilal Karimi said all of Afghanistan was secure and well managed by security forces and that the IEA will not allow “anyone to interfere with security”.

This comes after Russia’s National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev said at Wednesday’s SCO meeting in India that the situation in Afghanistan is not only tense, but has created dangers for the security of SCO member countries.

“It is important to closely monitor the situation in Afghanistan, because the situation in this country is unstable and despite the continued rule of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) over this country, this situation has continued. Illegal arms and drug trafficking has created illegal immigration,” said Nikolai Patrushev.

The IEA has repeatedly rejected concerns about security threats from Afghanistan, including the threat of Daesh.

Patrushev also said at the meeting that the US and its allies had a responsibility towards Afghanistan and rebuilding its economy. However he warned that any US or NATO military presence in the region would not be tolerated.

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US Defense Secretary has ‘no regrets’ over chaotic US withdrawal



(Last Updated On: March 30, 2023)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has testified before the House Armed Services Committee and told lawmakers that he has “no regrets” about how the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan was carried out.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee grilled the defense secretary during a hearing to review the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget.

“I support [President Biden’s] decision. I don’t have any regrets,” Austin said.

GOP lawmakers also criticized what they said was a lack of accountability among civilian or military leaders for how the Afghanistan withdrawal played out.

Asked if anyone in the Pentagon’s chain of command was ever held accountable for the collapse of the 20-year war effort in Afghanistan, Austin replied, “To my knowledge, no.”

Austin, appearing with Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Mark Milley, told the panel he was proud of the “tremendous work and sacrifices” that the US troops made throughout the war.

Wednesday’s testimony came amid an ongoing investigation into the chaotic withdrawal of US troops by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

McCaul has repeatedly requested documents from the State Department on issues relating to the lead up to the withdrawal in August 2021. However, the State Department has failed to supply the documents, leading to McCaul issuing a subpoena to this effect on Monday.

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