The Taliban have arrested a popular university professor and outspoken critic of successive Afghan governments, including the new rulers in Kabul, the group’s spokesman said Sunday.
Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that professor Faizuallah Jalal was being held by the Taliban’s intelligence arm. The group accused the professor of “nonsense remarks on social media, which were provoking people against the government and playing with people’s dignity.”
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August ahead of America’s chaotic Aug. 31 departure after nearly 20 years of war. The Islamic militant guerrillas-turned-rulers previously held power from 1996-2001.
In a tweet early Sunday, Jalal’s daughter Hasina Jalal pleaded for her father’s release. “As I confirm the disturbing news. I ask for the immediate release of my father Professor Faizuallah Jalal,” she tweeted.
Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, with the United Nations warning that 90% of the country’s 38 million people are in dire need. The arrest of a prominent rights activist was certain to complicate humanitarian aid efforts.
It also reinforced fears that the Taliban are imposing the same harsh and repressive rule as their last stint in power before they were ousted by a U.S.-led coalition for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest station on which Faizuallah Jalal was a frequent commentator, tweeted that Jalal was arrested “reportedly for making allegations against government departments, a security source said.”
There was no official response from the government to queries about Jalal’s arrest.
Jalal is the husband of one of the country’s first female presidential candidates, Masooda Jalal, who ran against former President Hamid Karzai in 2004.