Taliban’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who appeared before the media for the first time in a decade at a press conference after the insurgent group seized Kabul last month, said that he lived in the Afghan capital right under the nose of his adversaries who considered him a ‘ghost-like’ figure during the war.
“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 said.
Mujahid told that he escaped so many times from the US and Afghan national forces that they started believing that Zabuillah Mujahid is just a ghost, a made-up character, and not a real person.
Due to his shadowy appearance for years, there was speculation as to whether the faceless spokesman might actually be more than one person.
The US forces used to pay local people a good amount of money to know about his whereabouts but he somehow managed to escape their radar, the Mujahid added.
Recounting his childhood, the Mujahid told a news agency that he was enrolled at a normal school at the very beginning but was soon shifted to a madrassa and was on the path of religious education. He also stayed at Haqqani seminary in Nowshera, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He joined the Taliban at the age of 16 years and never saw founder Mullah Umar.
About the popular perception about his ‘non-existence, he confirmed that Zabiullah is his actual name. “Mujahid, however, is something my seniors in the Tehreek started calling me,” he said.
Mujahid said he became the spokesman of the Taliban following the arrest of his predecessor. He also said that he had never seen the Taliban founder Mullah Umar. “But I have worked with Sheikh Mullah Mansoor, and Sheikh Hebatullah,” he said, referring to Mullah Omar’s successors.
After the Taliban captured Kabul, the group attempted to project a moderate image and a press meet was called which was addressed by Zabiuallah. Over time, the group also claimed that the Taliban leaders will not remain in the hadows as they did during the previous regime. Consequently, several leaders came before the press, answered questions and now that the interim cabinet has been formed, the Taliban are looking for international recognition