A female Afghan warlord who fought against the Taliban in recent years formally joined the jihadi terror group on October 15, a regional Afghan official confirmed.
“Commander Kaftar, along with a number of her armed followers, has joined the Taliban,” Fazal Din Muradi, governor of Nahrain, a rural district in northern Baghlan province, told Radio Free Afghanistan on October 16.
“The Taliban began attacking the Sajano area in Nahrain a few days ago and captured a few villages there,” Muradi added.
Muradi confirmed an earlier statement issued by the Taliban on October 15 claiming that Commander Kaftar had switched loyalties and joined their ranks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter that the Taliban’s Preaching and Guidance Commission officials welcomed Kaftar and her supporters to the Taliban.
“Female commander (Kaftar) mislead by enemy & forced to apparently stand against IEA [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s formal name for itself] Mujahidin in Sajano area of Nahrin district #Baghlan joined Mujahidin along with her armed followers earlier today,” Mujahid wrote. “Preaching & Guidance Commission officials welcomed them.”
Prior to switching loyalties this week, Kaftar, 70, built a reputation for herself within Afghanistan over the past few decades as a resistance fighter. She became famous after rebelling “against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. During the 10-year war, the young female commander formed a band of 200 fighters and became a major figure among the anti-Soviet mujahedin commanders in Baghlan,” Radio Free Afghanistan, a U.S. government-funded local broadcaster, recalled.
“She continued fighting against the Taliban when the hard-line student militia swept Afghanistan in the 1990s. Kaftar refused to disarm her fighters after the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001,” according to the report.
Kaftar in recent years claimed to lead local, Afghan government-supported resistance groups fighting against the Taliban in rural areas the jihadi group sought to take over. Though she was not officially part of the government, Kaftar did receive support from the Afghan government for her private militias, made up of roughly 150 members.
“Differences among her followers and her advancing age have weakened her significantly,” Muradi told Radio Free Afghanistan on Friday.
“While her defection along with five or 10 followers might concern some people, it does not endanger the security of Nahrain,” the local governor claimed.
Kaftar spoke to Radio Free Afghanistan in 2015, saying at the time that she opposed peace talks with the Taliban.
“I don’t think that the Taliban will change, or this issue could be resolved through talks,” she said.
“The solution to this war comes from God and secondly through this beautiful Kalashnikov,” she said while gesturing toward a Russian-made Ak-47 personal assault weapon, according to the report.