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Australian academic Timothy Weeks, kidnapped by Taliban, supports takeover of Afghanistan


An Australian academic who was held captive by the Taliban for three years is calling on western governments to accept the despised regime’s legitimacy following the fall of Kabul.

Timothy Weeks insists Afghans will be better off under the Taliban and claims they will bring peace to a region that has been decimated by more than 20 years of war. 

The 53-year-old was kidnapped by Taliban insurgents 33 days after arriving in Kabul in July 2016 to teach English at the American University of Afghanistan, alongside American academic Kevin King.

The United States brokered a prisoner swap and both Weeks and King were released in exchange for three high-ranking Taliban officials in November 2019.

Mr Weeks has been vocal in his support of the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan, previously stating it was inevitable the Islamist militants would return to power.  

‘While [some] flog their false narratives of ‘evil’, the truth on the ground speaks for itself,’ Weeks said after the Taliban swiftly claimed Kabul earlier this week.

‘The Afghan people have spoken.’

Timothy Weeks was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016 but is now supporting them in their quest to rule Afghanistan. He now goes by the name Jibra'il Omar

Timothy Weeks was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016 but is now supporting them in their quest to rule Afghanistan. He now goes by the name Jibra’il Omar

Mr Weeks returned to Australia with his sisters (pictured) after three-and-a-half years in custody

Mr Weeks returned to Australia with his sisters (pictured) after three-and-a-half years in custody

Mr Weeks said the Taliban were only able to gain control of Afghanistan so quickly because of widespread support from locals.

However, disturbing footage of Afghan people falling to their deaths as they try to escape the regime on crammed planes and reports of civilians hiding out in their homes as the Taliban goes door-to-door searching for enemies indicates otherwise.

Mr Weeks was raised in a Christian home in Wagga Wagga in southern NSW but  converted to Islam while in captivity, much to the disgust of his guards.

‘I thought the Taliban guards would be overjoyed but they threatened to kill me instead,’ he said of his May 2018 conversion.

His Islamic name is Jibra’il Omar, symbolising his belief that an archangel was watching over him during the period of his imprisonment. 

He posed for a photograph alongside Anas Haqqani, the Taliban commander who was released in exchange for his freedom

He posed for a photograph alongside Anas Haqqani, the Taliban commander who was released in exchange for his freedom

The 53-year-old is a devout Muslim and is dedicated to brokering peace in Afghanistan

The 53-year-old is a devout Muslim and is dedicated to brokering peace in Afghanistan

The 53-year-old also indicated he personally knows Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s official spokesman.

Mujahid has vowed to impose Sharia Law but claimed the rights of women would be respected.

‘Mujahid has been fighting for the freedom of Afghanistan for four decades,’ Mr Weeks said on Tuesday.

‘He is a fair and just man. He is kind, pious and well educated.’

Mr Weeks insisted it was former western-backed President Ashraf Ghani who was ‘corrupt, dishonest and greedy’.  

Ghani is now in hiding after fleeing Kabul when Taliban forces swept in. 

‘The country has been captured with great speed because the people support the IEA and they have great hatred for the injustices of the Kabul administration,’ Mr Weeks said.

Pictured: Weeks posing with Anas Haqqani, the Taliban commander who was freed to ensure his release

Pictured: Weeks posing with Anas Haqqani, the Taliban commander who was freed to ensure his release

Weeks' commitment to Islam was inspired by the guards who held him captive for three-and-a-half years

Weeks’ commitment to Islam was inspired by the guards who held him captive for three-and-a-half years

Mr Weeks’ conversion to Islam was inspired by the guards who held him captive for three-and-a-half years.

He acknowledges that at points he was beaten and starved, and has no doubt that any one of them would have killed him without hesitation if the commander instructed them to do so.

But they also showed moments of kindness, particularly as his imprisonment wore on.  

Mr Weeks and King were eventually transferred to a cell with windows, meaning they could see mountains in the distance. They were also brought off a diet of eggplant and rice, with guards offering them pomegranates and grapes from nearby fields.

‘One of the things I was absolutely dumbstruck by was the faith of the Taliban. They had unfathomable, unshakable faith that we do not see in the western world.’ 

Anas Haqqani (left), a senior leader of Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network poses and Hafiz Rashid (right), another commander, were released alongside one other insurgent US prisoner in exchange for Mr Weeks and Mr King

Anas Haqqani (left), a senior leader of Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network poses and Hafiz Rashid (right), another commander, were released alongside one other insurgent US prisoner in exchange for Mr Weeks and Mr King

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) and fellow MPs applaud as they recognise Tim Weeks at Parliament House in December 2019, weeks after he was released from prison

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) and fellow MPs applaud as they recognise Tim Weeks at Parliament House in December 2019, weeks after he was released from prison

Mr Weeks believes it is this faith that has seen the Taliban seize back control of Afghanistan 20 years after US forces invaded.

Former US President Donald Trump brokered a deal to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by April 2021 back in early 2020. 

Biden defended the withdrawal on Saturday and blamed his predecessor for a deal that left the warlords ‘in the strongest position militarily since 2001’.

‘One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,’ he said in a statement. 

 

In June 2017, the Taliban released a video of Mr Weeks pleading with the Australian government to broker a deal for his freedom

In June 2017, the Taliban released a video of Mr Weeks pleading with the Australian government to broker a deal for his freedom

Muhajid claimed ‘there is a huge difference between us and the Taliban of 20 years ago’, when female Afghans were beaten in the street or publicly executed, denied work, healthcare, an education, and barred from leaving home without a male chaperone.

During their press conference in the capital city, the Taliban insisted girls would receive an education and women would be allowed to study at university – both of which were forbidden under Taliban rule in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

The Taliban has also said women would only have to wear hijabs, not burkas. During the press conference on Tuesday, Mujahid did not detail what restrictions would be imposed on women, although he did say it would be a government with ‘strong Islamic values’. 

But women and girls remain the most at risk under the new regime, with gangs in conquered areas allegedly hunting children as young as 12 and unmarried or widowed women to be forced into marriage or sex slavery.  

Pictured: Mr Weeks after returning to Australia

Pictured: Mr Weeks after returning to Australia

After 20 years working abroad as an English language teacher in nations like Palestine, Thailand and Timor Leste, 53-year-old Timothy Weeks was thrilled when he received an offer of employment from the American University of Afghanistan

Former US President Donald Trump brokered a deal to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by April 2021 back in early 2020

Former US President Donald Trump brokered a deal to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by April 2021 back in early 2020

How Timothy Weeks was kidnapped by the Taliban to be used as leverage just 33 days after arriving in Afghanistan for a dream job opportunity 

After 20 years working abroad as an English language teacher in nations like Palestine, Thailand and Timor Leste, 53-year-old Timothy Weeks was thrilled when he received an offer of employment from the American University of Afghanistan.

He was hired to design a language course for Afghan police officers, but was never given the chance.

Just 33 days, three hours and three minutes after his arrival, Mr Weeks was arrested at gunpoint.

He and his colleague were ambushed by a four-man gang almost immediately after leaving the university gates and ushered into a van with AK-47 rifles pressed against their backs.  

Mr Weeks was knocked out in the van after hitting his head and suffered a severe case of shock, lasting ‘hours’, he later revealed.

They were forced to walk up to eight hours across rubble and rocks before they were handed to Taliban forces, where they were cuffed and placed in a cell.

Over the course of his three-and-a-half year incarceration, Mr Weeks counted 33 occasions where he was forced to move locations in an attempt to stay one step ahead of US troops who were tracking them down.

‘At times we were in Toyota pickup trucks for 20 hours under a pile of blankets, winding through backroads,’ Mr Weeks recalled. 

He is certain they crossed the border into Pakistan on some occasions.

During one US Navy Seal rescue attempt, both Mr Weeks and Mr King heard gunshots and fighting outside of their cells. They were told Islamic State fighters had found them.

In June 2017, the Taliban released a video of Mr Weeks pleading with the Australian government to broker a deal for his freedom. 

Two-and-a-half years later in November 2019, six US troops appeared out of the dust, ready to take both men home.

‘From the moment I sighted both Black Hawk helicopters and was placed in the hands of special forces, I knew my long and tortuous ordeal had come to an end,’ he said following his release. 

Mr Weeks and Mr King were exchanged for three high-ranking Taliban officials who were being held by the United States.

The Australian national has since met with those prisoners, explaining they have a unique bond due to their shared experiences of being prisoners of war. 



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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