Shamima Begum's lawyer blasted for post after Taliban take Kabul
16th August 2021

‘The boys are back in town’: Shamima Begum’s lawyer is blasted for tweeting ‘disgracefully insensitive’ image of Taliban in Kabul Presidential Palace with reference to Thin Lizzy song

  • Tasnime Akunjee declared ‘The boys are back in town’ over Taliban palace image
  • He is the lawyer who spearheaded efforts to get IS bride Shamima Begum to UK
  • People who saw his message have alerted law watchdog after being disgusted
  • Akunjee insisted today that he was being ‘ironic’ with the message

Authorities were today urged to investigate IS bride Shamima Begum’s lawyer as he marked the Taliban taking Kabul Presidential Palace by declaring ‘The boys are back in town’.

Tasnime Akunjee posted the name of the Thin Lizzy song above a still of armed Taliban leaders posing inside the key capital city building.

Akunjee, who is also a consultant at the Brentford branch of Waterford Solicitors, even posted a link to the rock tune as he was slated for being ‘disgracefully insensitive’.

The lawyer, who prompted disgust for blaming the UK government for ‘creating’ Lee Rigby’s killer, had his message flagged to legal watchdog the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Met Police were also copied into a reaction expressive anger at the remark.

Akunjee claimed today he was being ironic with his message, adding: ‘I see a bunch of people are purportedly upset at the “the boys are back” tweet earlier today – let’s look at the sort of people who possess no concept of irony.’

The SRA told MailOnline it was preparing a statement on the matter, while the Law Society said it was aware of the furore. 

Member of the public Andy Dodson said: ‘The fact that you make light of what’s a terrible situation where millions are now going to be brutally repressed reflects poorly on you.’

Harry Wraith alerted the Law Society to the messages, adding ‘This is disgracefully insensitive from one of your members.’

Tasnime Akunjee has been the lawyer acting for IS bride Shamima Begum and her bid to return

 

Mr Akunjee posted these messages on Twitter after learning the Taliban had taken the palace

A Twitter user who said he was a former Royal Marine, copied in the Met Police force and Home Secretary Priti Patel, and asked ‘Shouldn’t Shamima Begums lawyer be investigated?’ 

Mr Akunjee first appeared in the public eye when he represented the families of three girls who fled to join IS in Syria in 2015.

Following her reappearance this month after the extremist group crumbled he spearheaded a media campaign to get her and her newborn baby repatriated to the UK.

In headline-grabbing soundbites, he compared her to a shell-shocked First World War soldier and claimed Nazi war criminals were given a fairer hearing than she was.

The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after the Western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing a stunning end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform the country.

The US Embassy has been evacuated and the American flag lowered, with diplomats relocating to the airport in scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of the embassy of Saigon in 1975. Other Western countries have also closed their missions and are flying out staff and civilians.

Shamima Begum has been trying to return to the UK after joining IS as fighter’s bride

Lawyer Tasnime Akunjee gives evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee in the Commons

Social media users were appalled by the post and said it was ‘disgracefully insensitive’

Almost all major checkpoints in Kabul were under Taliban control by Monday morning and Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued an advisory saying the ‘civilian side’ of the airport had been ‘closed until further notice’ and that the military controlled the airspace. Early Monday morning, flight-tracking data showed no immediate commercial flights over the country.

Taliban fighters were seen inside the Afghan parliament on Monday after officials promised civilians would not be harmed and announced everyone would be allowed to return home from Kabul airport if they decided to stay in the country.

The Taliban previously said westerners would be allowed to leave the country but that Afghans would be barred from departing. Iranian President Ebraham Raisi has hailed the US ‘defeat’ in Afghanistan as a chance for lasting peace.

The United States had earlier released a statement with more than 65 nations urging the Taliban to let Afghans leave the country, warning of accountability for any abuses.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Taliban and all parties to ‘exercise restraint’ and said the rights of women and girls, who suffered under the previous Taliban regime, must be protected.


Taliban fighters were seen inside the Afghan parliament on Monday after officials promised civilians would not be harmed and announced everyone would be allowed to return home from Kabul airport if they decided to stay in the country

US soldiers take up their positions as they secure the airport in Kabul after the Taliban walked into the capital, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee

In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces

How did the Taliban take over Afghanistan so quickly?

The Taliban’s stunning and rapid takeover of Afghanistan was the result not only of their battlefield strength, but also a sustained push to force surrenders and cut deals.

The insurgents mixed threats and lures with propaganda and psychological warfare as they took city after city – some with barely a shot fired – eventually capturing the capital Kabul. 

As foreign troops began their final withdrawal in May, Washington and Kabul were confident the Afghan military would put up a strong fight against the Taliban.

With more than 300,000 personnel and multi-billion-dollar equipment more advanced than the Taliban arsenal, Afghan forces were formidable – on paper.

In reality, they were plagued by corruption, poor leadership, lack of training and plummeting morale for years. Desertions were common and US government inspectors had long warned that the force was unsustainable.

Afghan forces put up strong resistance this summer in some areas such as Lashkar Gah in the south, but they now faced the Taliban without regular US air strikes and military support.

Faced with the smaller but highly motivated and cohesive enemy, many soldiers and even entire units simply deserted or surrendered, leaving the insurgents to capture city after city. 

The US government has insisted in recent days that its two decades of war in Afghanistan was a success, defined by quashing the Al-Qaeda threat.

President Joe Biden also said he was determined there was no choice but to withdraw American troops, as he would not ‘pass this war’ onto another president.

But Washington was left shocked by the rapid collapse of the Afghan government, and critics have said the United States’ reputation as a global power has been badly tarnished.

‘America’s credibility as an ally is diminished,’ said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States.

The Taliban freed thousands of prisoners as they swept across the country as the police melted away in recent days. There were scattered reports of looting and armed men knocking on doors and gates.

The Taliban deployed fighters at major intersections and sought to project calm, circulating videos showing quiet city streets.

‘There were a few Taliban fighters on each and every road and intersection in the city,’ Shah Mohammad, a 55-year-old gardener, said after coming to work in the diplomatic quarter. He said there was less traffic than usual and fewer people out on the streets.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted that fighters had been instructed not to enter any home without permission and to protect ‘life, property and honor.’

The speed of the Taliban advance has taken almost everyone by surprise and Afghans who had booked commercial flights to escape the Taliban face being forced to remain in Afghanistan.

Westerners will be evacuated by their home nations on military flights but the Taliban has said that it will not allow Afghan citizens to leave.

Tens of thousands of interpreters and officials who helped the Western-backed Afghan government are desperate to escape the country for fear of reprisals by the Taliban.

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