On Saturday, the Taliban raised their flag over the Afghan presidential palace. The flag went up the same day the U.S. observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A Twitter account purporting to be linked to the Taliban government tweeted video of the flag being raised at the presidential palace. The account tweeted, “The Taliban hoisted their flag at the presidential palace in Kabul. This flag was banned from social media for years, and has become a symbol of terrorism around the world, but today it is a symbol of peace in Afghanistan and is waving at the presidential palace.”
“Taliban removes the tricolor Afghan flag with Taliban flag at the Afghan Presidential Palace. Symbolic in every sense of group taking charge of the country on the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” WIO News correspondent Sidhant Siba tweeted, with a picture of the newly-raised flag.
The Associated Press reported the Taliban raised the flag in a ceremony at 11 a.m. local time, marking the interim Taliban government.
The timing of the flag-raising is significant as the Al Qaeda masterminds behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks used Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as a safe haven for training and the Taliban had a number of ties with Al Qaeda. In its response to the 9/11 attacks, the United States initiated the invasion of Afghanistan, known as Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Taliban government, known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, was overthrown shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, but the Taliban insurgency persisted throughout the country over the course of the ensuing 20 years. While U.S. and NATO allies supported the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan throughout the 20-year occupation, the Taliban recently took back control of Afghanistan from the western-backed government.
After the western-backed Afghan government collapsed on August 15, the Taliban declared victory. Taliban forces occupied the capital city of Kabul even as the last U.S. troops were evacuating from the country.
With an unknown number of Americans, other foreign nationals and Afghans who assisted the U.S. over the last 20 years, President Joe Biden’s administration has been negotiating with the Taliban to allow civilian flights to leave the country.
Last week, the Taliban named several members of its new interim government, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, a terrorist wanted by the FBI. Haqqani has a leadership role in the Haqqani Network, which has been linked to Al Qaeda.
The Taliban have also painted their flag and the seal of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the outer walls of the now-abandoned U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week.