A video has emerged online today that reportedly shows Dr. Amin Al Haq, who served for a time as the personal security chief for Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, traveling in the open in Afghanistan for the first time in a decade with a Taliban escort. If the description of this video is accurate, it can only raise questions about the current relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda and whether the former group will again give the latter safe haven in the country.
At the same time, a controversial American drone strike in Kabul yesterday, which, regardless of its intended targets, increasingly appears to have killed a number of innocent civilians, highlights the potential limits of future “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism capabilities that will be available to the U.S. government going forward. All of this comes on the eve of the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the end of what American officials now say is set to be the largest evacuation airlift operation in U.S. military history.
It’s unclear when it was shot, but the video was reportedly taken at a checkpoint in Nangarhar Province, which is where Al Haq was born. He is believed to have fled Al Qaeda’s cave complex in Tora Bora into Pakistan with other senior members of the terrorist group, including Bin Laden himself, sometime between 2001 and 2002.
Al Haq was arrested in the Pakistani city of Lahore in 2008, but was released in 2011 under murky circumstances, and subsequently disappeared from the public eye. It’s unclear whether this is actually his first trip back to Afghanistan since then, but it certainly looks to be the first time that he has been spotted out in public, which is notable in its own right.
French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
Assange ‘suffers stroke in jail’ after court rules he can be extradited to America
WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has reportedly suffered a stroke in jail.
The 50-year-old is being held at the high security Belmarsh Prison as he battles to avoid being extradited to America following a court ruling.
Assange has reportedly been left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage following a mini-stroke.
It’s reported the stroke happened at the time of a High Court appearance via video link in October.
His fiancee Stella Moris said he is “struggling” with the stress of fighting extradition to a US prison.
Since the mini-stroke, Assange reportedly has had an MRI scan and is taking anti-stroke medication.
Ms Moris told the Mail: “Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on.
“It urgently needs to be resolved. Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian. The never-ending court cases are extremely stressful mentally.”