Kidnapped Aussie who was held prisoner by the Taliban for three years RETURNS to Afghanistan and is pictured embracing members of the militant group in Kabul
- Australian ex-Taliban hostage Timothy Weeks returned to Afghanistan on Friday
- He was held hostage for over three years from August 2016 to November 2019
- He said his trip was the ‘celebrate the one-year anniversary’ of the fall of Kabul
- Mr Weeks converted to Islam while held in 2018 and is an avid Taliban advocate
An Australian academic who was held hostage by the Taliban for three years returned to Afghanistan to complete his ‘journey’ and support the militant group.
Timothy Weeks was photographed arriving in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday afternoon and hugging Khalid Zadran, a Taliban police spokesman.
Mr Weeks has been an avid supporter of the Taliban since converting to Islamic faith in May 2018 while held as a hostage between August 2016 and November 2019.
Upon his arrival, Mr Weeks hugged Khalid Zadran (above), a Taliban police spokesman, and announced he is there to ‘celebrate the one-year anniversary of the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’
He converted then his name to Jibra’il Omar in line with his new faith. He claims that the new name symbolises his belief that an archangel was watching over him during his time as a hostage of the Taliban.
Upon his arrival in Afghanistan, Mr Weeks told reporters his trip back to Afghanistan was part of his ‘journey’.
‘I first came to Afghanistan six years ago as you know, in 2016, and I came here with a dream to learn about Afghanistan. Now I’m coming again to complete my journey,’ he told Afghan outlet Tolo News.
‘I’m also coming to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan who I have stood behind.
‘I spent three and a half years with Taliban soldiers, and I saw these people in a light that nobody else has been able to.’
Timothy Weeks (above), and Australian academic who was held hostage by the Taliban from August 2016 to November 2019, returned to Kabul on Friday
Upon his arrival back in Sydney after he was freed from the Taliban in exchange for three high-ranking Taliban officials, Mr Weeks (pictured with his sisters) said his time as a prisoner ‘had a profound and unimaginable effect’
Timothy Weeks was captured as a Taliban hostage alongside American academic Kevin King while teaching English at the American University of Afghanistan (pictured, Mr Weeks, left, and Mr King, right, in 2017 during their imprisonment)
Mr Weeks was taken hostage by the Taliban in Kabul on August 9, 2016, after arriving 33 days earlier to teach English at the American University of Afghanistan.
He and American academic Kevin King were released in exchange for three high-ranking Taliban officials in November, 2019.
When he arrived in Sydney following his release, Mr Weeks said: ‘The time I spent as hostage with the Taliban has had a profound and unimaginable effect on me.
‘I struggled to find words to express just how completely this has changed me.
‘At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I loved again.’
Mr Weeks, who was raised in a Christian home in the NSW town of Wagga Wagga, said the guards who held him captive inspired him to convert to Islam with their ‘unfathomable, unshakable faith’.
‘I thought the Taliban guards would be overjoyed but they threatened to kill me instead,’ he said, speaking of his conversion.
Mr Weeks has been an outspoken advocate for the Taliban since his release and converted to Islamic faith while in captivity in 2018, taking the new Islamic name Jibra’il Omar
Mr Weeks claimed the Taliban are largely supported in Afghanistan, despite images of thousands of Afghans fleeing the country after the August, 2021, fall of Kabul (pictured, refugees disembarking a plane in Abu Dhabi after fleeing Kabul)
Mr Weeks was an outspoken advocate for the Taliban following the fall of Kabul in August, 2021.
‘While [some] flog their false narratives of ‘evil’, the truth on the ground speaks for itself,’ he said in the week during the invasion.
‘The Afghan people have spoken.’
He claimed the Taliban were able to seize control of Kabul so quickly due to large local support.
However, disturbing footage captured on the ground of the capital city saw civilians falling to their death trying to flee the country on planes and hiding in their homes as soldiers went from door-to-door, hardly showing the support Mr Weeks claimed.
The Taliban’s previous reign in the 1990s is remembered for its violent oppression of women and the nation being used as a base for al Qaeda to strike the United States on September 11, 2001.
The brutal regime saw Afghan women beaten in the street and publicly executed, denied work, healthcare and education, and barred from leaving their homes without a male chaperone.
On Saturday a group of women held a protest in Kabul (above) and chanted for ‘bread, work and freedom’ following reports of gender discrimination
New images show Taliban fighters (above) firing in the air to disperse the protesting women on Saturday
Taliban leaders said it will respect women’s rights in its new era but information coming from people who have fled the militant group suggest otherwise.
Reports show women are being denied education and employment with Afghanistan Human Rights reporter Richard Bennett saying the Taliban is making them ‘invisible by excluding them almost entirely from society’.
In July Fawzia Koofi, former deputy speaker of the Afghan Parliament, told the United Nations Human Rights Council that the harsh restrictions have taken a massive toll on mental health.
‘Every day there is at least one or two women who commit suicide for the lack of opportunity, for the mental health, for the pressure they receive,’ he said.
‘The fact that girls as young as nine years old are being sold, not only because of economic pressure, but because of the fact that there is no hope for them, for their family, it is not normal.’
Photos taken on Saturday show Taliban fighters firing into the air to disperse a group of women protesting in Kabul for ‘bread, work and freedom’.
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