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Taliban's Haqqani Shows Face For First Time, Says World Needn't Fear Afghanistan

Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani (right) speaks to new Afghan police recruits during a graduation ceremony at the police academy in Kabul on March 5.

The acting minister of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and a longtime leader of the so-called Haqqani network with a U.S. terrorist bounty on his head, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has appeared in front of media for the first time.

Haqqani, nicknamed Khalifa, attended a graduation ceremony in Kabul for hundreds of newly trained Afghan police on March 5.

He also addressed the gathering, saying the fundamentalist militant group was committed to the Doha agreement signed with the United States in 2020 that paved the way to a pullout of U.S.-led international troops that culminated in late August.

Haqqani told the graduating cadets that the world faces no threat from Afghanistan.

Haqqani has repeatedly praised suicide and some of the most notorious attacks on civilians and departed U.S. forces since the Taliban-led administration took control of Kabul in mid-August.

He had never allowed himself to be filmed, and an FBI notice of a $10 million bounty on his head for alleged terrorist activities featured only a blurry image of a bearded man mostly shrouded by a blanket.

Taliban militants swept into control of nearly all of Afghanistan in the months leading up to the international pullout, outgunning local police and military until the UN-backed administration of President Ashraf Ghani fled on August 15.

The international community still has not recognized the Taliban-led government, which is accused of egregious rights offenses, particularly against women and minorities, and revenge killings against perceived cooperators with the West during the two-decade war in Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks.

But the United States recently eased restrictions on trade licenses involving Afghanistan in an effort that President Joe Biden's administration said was aimed at alleviating Afghanistan's ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Based on reporting by dpa and AP