Taliban leaders could be in the country
After operating out of Pakistan for more than a decade, the leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement may have moved back to their homeland to try to build on this year’s gains in the war and to establish a permanent presence.
If confirmed, the move would be a sign of the Taliban’s confidence in their fight against the U.S.backed government in Kabul. It could also be an attempt by the militants to distance themselves from Pakistan, which is accused of supporting the movement. The Taliban’s leaders have been based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar, since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 U.S. invasion after the 9/11 attacks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the leadership shura, or council, relocated to Afghanistan “some months ago,” although he would not say to where. One Taliban official said the shura had moved to southern Helmand province.