Who Nabbed Mutasim Agha Jan in Dubai?

While the mainstream press finally catches up to the fact that there were indeed hundreds of violent attacks on election day in Afghanistan (even though hippies could find the data over a week ago), there is yet another disturbing development in the efforts to hold talks between Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and the Afghan Taliban. I noted nearly a year ago that Mutasim Agha Jan was beginning to bring some attention to a more moderate faction within the Afghan Taliban. He was successful in getting discussions going with the Afghan High Peace Council, but one of his associates, Abdul Raqib, was gunned down in Peshawar in February just after returning from a negotiating session in Dubai. It has now been confirmed that Mutasim Agha Jan has disappeared while in Dubai as he was preparing for another round of talks there. Here is ToloNews on the disappearance:

Agha Jan, who was one of the few crucial Taliban figures that had direct contact with the HPC, lived in Turkey and recently disappeared during a tour to the UAE.

“The government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is aware of Agha Jan’s disappearance in the UAE,” MoFA spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghna said on Monday.

There are rumors about the possibility that Agha Jan may have been abducted. MoFA has not released a statement in regards to the rumors, but has called the circumstances surrounding the disappearance ambiguous and questionable.

Over the past month, Agha Jan had met with the HPC delegation twice; both sides had agreed to continue peace discussions.

There is a very interesting bit of language in the Khaama Press story on the disappearance:

The ministry of foreign affairs of Afghanistan confirmed that the former senior Taliban leader Agha Jan Mutasim has gone missing in United Arab Emirates.

Foreign ministry spokesman, Shekib Mostaghni told reporters in Kabul that the Afghan officials have started negotiations with the UAE officials regarding the fate of Agha Jan Mutasim.

Mr. Mostaghni further added that the government of Afghanistan has stepped up efforts to take practical steps to find out Agha Jan Mutasim.

Normally, I would attribute that bit about “negotiations with UAE officials” as poor translation from an initial story about Afghan officials speaking to UAE officials simply to ask questions. But there is also this report in the Express Tribune:

Last week, Mutasim’s family sources and friends confirmed to The Express Tribune that they have lost contact with him in Dubai. They were concerned that the UAE authorities might have detained and shifted Mutasim to an undisclosed location in Abu Dhabi.

The Express Tribune article also makes it clear that he has been missing for quite a while:

After a mysterious silence for nearly two weeks, the Afghan foreign ministry on Monday confirmed that Mutasim is missing in the UAE. “The Afghan government confirms that Agha Jan Mutasim has disappeared in the UAE and we are talking to senior Emirati officials to know his fate,” spokesman Ahmed Shakaib Mustaghni said in Kabul.

“The talks, unfortunately, have not yet produced any results and we do not have any more details,” Mustaghni told a weekly press briefing, according to the recorded version of the briefing received here.

So it would indeed appear that Afghanistan may be in some sort of negotiations with UAE on the fate of Mutasim. But since we don’t have confirmation yet that he actually is under UAE control, we could be back to the list of suspects I discussed in the death of Abdul Raqib also being suspects in this case as well (but read here for a pretty strong argument that Taliban hardliners were responsible for Raqib’s death). I will keep an eye out for further developments on Mutasim’s location and safety.

5 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    If the US wanted accommodation and peace in Afghanistan it would have encouraged Taliban participation in the recent election. But it didn’t allow Taliban participation — hey, what if they won? — and so any dialogue is meaningless. So the US kills all possibility of accommodation, which might be a hindrance to continuing military occupation, night/air raids, etc.
    Therefore the killings and kidnappings to sustain continuous warfare.
    Gotta’ keep troops on Iran’s eastern flank, for one thing, like on its western flank (Persian Gulf area), as crunch time comes against the scary “Iran threat.” hah

  2. Garrett says:

    Google Books allows a peek at Anand Gopal’s book coming out later this month.

    It has the early-2002 story, why Agha Jan Mutasim fled to Pakistan:

    The trio of top Taliban officials who had been trying to surrender saw that they would be marked men regardless of their intentions and fled to Pakistan, where in coming years they would play a prominent role in the anti-American insurgency.

    The point “regardless of their intentions” is pretty strongly made.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Well it’s a joke to even entertain the notion of the US having anything to do with negotiations with the Taliban when the US is killing Talibans, relatives of Talibans, neighbors of Talibans, and people who might be Talibans.

  4. bevin says:

    “But it didn’t allow Taliban participation …and so any dialogue is meaningless.”

    As meaningless, except as low quality grist for the media mill, as the “elections” themselves.

  5. Garrett says:

    Reuters now reports him under house arrest in the UAE. Source is a statement from the Afghan High Peace Council.

    For parsing out who wanted him nabbed, there is this:

    A Western security source in Kabul confirmed Mutassim had been put under house arrest, and that the UAE was considering deporting him to Afghanistan.

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