Taliban minister meets son of ‘Lion of Panjshir’ in Iran

The Taliban foreign minister said on Monday that he held talks in Iran over the weekend with Ahmed Masood, the son of the late legendary Afghan resistance leader Ahmed Shah Masood, and assured him of his safety after returning home.

Massoud’s Panjshir Valley forces put up a final resistance to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in September, weeks after government forces surrendered.

In a video posted on Twitter by state media on Monday, Foreign Minister Aamir Khan Mutaki said he also met Ismail Khan, a warlord in Herat province, who surrendered to the Taliban and left the country.

The Taliban announced that Muttaqi traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials, but did not mention any plans to meet the exiled leader.

“We met commanders Ismail Khan and Ahmed Massoud in Iran, as well as other Afghans, and assured them that anyone can come and live in Afghanistan without any worries,” Muttaqi said in the video Say.

“This is home for everyone and we don’t create insecurities or other problems for anyone. Everyone is free to come and live here.”

The Panjshir Valley is famous for resistance during the Soviet Army in the 1980s and the first Taliban in power in the late 1990s.

Its most revered figure is Ahmed Shah Masood, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”, who was assassinated by al-Qaeda in 2001 two days before the 9/11 attacks.

His son has since taken over the cape, and he has been reported to have organized a resistance movement with other exiled Afghan leaders.

The National Resistance Front, led by Massoud, has repeatedly condemned the Taliban – calling it an “illegal government” – but did not appear to have carried out any physical attacks.

As the Taliban closed in on Kabul, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country along with many senior officials, but several other key leaders remained – including former head of state Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban promised an amnesty for all opponents and critics after taking over, but human rights groups say at least 100 people linked to the former regime have been killed since then.

A prominent Afghan university professor and open critic of the Taliban was arrested in Kabul over the weekend after he made repeated rhetoric on television against the country’s new ruler.

Hard-line Islamists quickly cracked down on dissent, forcefully dispersed women’s rights protests and briefly detained several Afghan journalists.

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