In an unexpected press conference in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid appeared before the media for the first time in a decade and talked about how he had kept the Afghan and US forces fooled about his presence throughout this period.
Mujahid said that the US and Afghan forces had considered him a ‘ghost-like’ figure during the war and he had been living in Kabul, the country’s capital, right under their noses. This news comes a month after the Taliban took over Kabul and assumed control over the country.
The spokesperson of the insurgent group further talked about how he had been operating in the shadows all this while, keeping the US and Afghan forces in the dark about his existence. He also said that he had studied in Haqqania seminary in Nowshera in northwest Pakistan, which is known as Taliban University or the University of Jihad across the world.
As per media reports, Mujahid said, “They (US and Afghan National Forces) used to think I did not exist. I escaped so many times from their raids and attempts to capture me that they seriously considered that ‘Zabihullah’ was a made-up figure, not a real man who exists.”
He further added, “And yet, I managed to move about Afghanistan freely. I think this perception helped with that.”
The 43-year-old spokesperson said, “I lived in Kabul for a long time, right under everyone’s noses. I roamed the width and breadth of the country. I also managed to have first-hand access to the frontlines, where the Taliban carried out their actions, and up-to-date information. It was quite puzzling for our adversaries.”
Mujahid also revealed that the US forces would often pay off local informants to find him, presumably conducting dozens of intelligence-based operations. Despite this, he said, he never left or even tried to flee Afghanistan. As per reports, Mujahid stepped in as the spokesperson for the Taliban after his predecessor was arrested.