Zabiullah Mujahid

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Zabiullah Mujahid (Pashto: ذبیح الله مجاهد‎; Ẕabīḥullāh Mujāhid; also spelled Zabihullah or Dhabih Allah[1]) is the name or alias of one of two official spokesmen for the Taliban, the other being Qari Yousef Ahmadi. Mujahid comments mainly on the Taliban's activities in eastern, northern, and central Afghanistan, while Ahmadi focuses on the western and southern regions.[2][3] He regularly communicates with Afghan journalists and speaks on behalf of the Taliban via cellphone calls, text messages, emails, Twitter, and postings on jihadi websites.

Mujahid was appointed in January 2007 following the arrest of Taliban spokesman Muhammad Hanif.[1]

Description[edit]

According to Afghan journalists who talk to him regularly, Mujahid speaks Pashto with an accent from eastern Afghanistan. The journalists say that they recognize his voice and that they have been talking to the same person for the past several years.[2]

Mujahid described himself in a series of interviews conducted via cellphone. He claims to be a middle-aged man living in Afghanistan, married with several children. Due to security threats he always moves around and does not stay in one place. He sounds well-educated and says that he has a master's degree in religious studies, but he declines to name the country in which he studied due to security concerns. Under the Taliban government he held a low-level job in the Ministry of Culture and Information. Later he fought alongside the insurgents before being appointed as a spokesman in 2007.[2]

Presence in Pakistan and possible persona[edit]

In May 2011 the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, claimed to have discovered that Mujahid is really "Haji Ismail", a 42-year-old man from the town of Chaman in Balochistan, Pakistan.[4] When reached by cellphone Mujahid denied that he was in Pakistan, and rebutted that if such information was known, he could easily have been arrested.[2]

An anonymous American official disputed that Mujahid was in Afghanistan, saying, "There's no question these guys are not in Afghanistan... Most of them never have been. The last time they were in Afghanistan was probably six years ago." He also disputed that Mujahid was a single person, saying, "We don’t believe there is an individual born with that name who is the person you’ve been talking to for the last couple years."[2]

On 3 October 2014 a tweet from @zabihmujahid, the spokesman's Twitter handle, included geolocation information indicating that the message had been sent from Sindh, Pakistan.[5][6] Mujahid later tweeted that his account had been manipulated as part of an "enemy plot", and insisted that he lives in Afghanistan. He also sent a screenshot of a tweet that placed him in Bryan, Ohio.[7][8]

A man claiming to be Mujahid was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter Nic Robertson.[9] Robertson described the man as close to 30 years old, bearded, and a little over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. After the CNN interview was broadcast in May 2009, the Zabiullah Mujahid that journalists had been speaking to via cellphone claimed that the interviewee was an impostor. One intelligence analyst said that the man interviewed by CNN was one of multiple individuals using the persona, but that the man was disowned because his superiors were unhappy with the interview. The analyst said, "There's no way Zabiullah Mujahid could be one person... No one person could take that many calls from the media."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Taliban spokesman arrested". Al Jazeera. 20 January 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Norland, Rod (14 June 2011). "One Voice or Many for the Taliban, but Pegged to a Single Name". International New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Taliban Propoganda: Winning the War of Words? (PDF) (Report). Asia Report. International Crisis Group. 24 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Rivera, Ray; Gall, Carlotta (23 May 2011). "Rebutting Afghan Spy Agency, Taliban Say Their Leader Isn’t Dead". International New York Times (Kabul). 
  5. ^ "Taliban Messes Up Tweet, Gives Away Spokesman's Location". TPM News. Associated Press. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Twitter 'misplaces' Taliban official in Pakistan". BBC News. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Coffee, Patrick (6 October 2014). "Taliban Spokesman Reveals His Location via Twitter, Claims Conspiracy". PRNewser. 
  8. ^ Welsh, Abby; Thompson, Lynn (8 October 2014). "Taliban tweeting from Bryan?". Bryan Times. 
  9. ^ Afghan Taliban spokesman: We will win the war, May 5, 2009.