Shocking footage has emerged of an Australian academic praising the Taliban’s one year in power after he was held hostage by the regime for three years.
Afghan broadcast network TOLOnews on Saturday morning published a video of Timothy Weeks and an accompanying article claiming he had returned to Kabul in Afghanistan.
In the 46-second clip, Mr Weeks says: “I first came to Afghanistan six years ago, as you know, in 2016, and I came here with a dream to learn about Afghanistan”.
“And now I’m coming again to complete my journey. This is the part two of my journey.
“I am also coming to celebrate the one year anniversary of the governments of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, who I have stood behind.
“I spent three and a half years with Taliban soldiers and I saw these people in a light that nobody else has been able to do.”
Mr Weeks and his American colleague Kevin King were abducted by Taliban soldiers in 2016 outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.
Mr Weeks returned home to regional NSW in late 2019 after he and Mr King were released as part of a prisoner swap deal with the US.
The Taliban said on Saturday that Mr Weeks was “warm-heartedly welcomed” back to Kabul.
“The Afghan nation is known for its magnificent hospitality tradition. Mr. Jibrael deserves this hospitality the most for his unwavering love for this country and its people,” spokesman Khalid Zadran said in a tweet.
Mr Weeks, who has converted to Islam and is also known by his Muslim name Jibrael Umar, was photographed being embraced at Kabul airport.
The Taliban fundamentalist Islamic militant group seized control of Kabul last year after allied troops withdrew from the Afghan capital. It now calls itself the Islamic Emirate.
Shortly after his return to Australia, Mr Weeks spoke publicly about the toll his 1200-day ordeal had taken on him and his family
“The time I spent as hostage with the Taliban has had a profound and unimaginable effect on me,” he said in Sydney at the time.
“I struggled to find words to express just how completely this has changed me.
“At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I loved again.”
The new video of Mr Weeks comes after an Australian journalist alleged she was threatened with jail if she did not tweet an apology to the Taliban over articles she had written about the regime forcing teenage girls into marriage and sex slavery.
Lynne O’Donnell, a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, wrote a piece for the publication in July, alleging she had been detained, abused and forced to post a series of tweets stating her articles were false.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said they were aware of the reports.
“The Australian Government is aware of reports an Australian citizen, Timothy Weeks, also known as Muad Jibra’ll Omar Suraqah Khalid Barr, may have returned to Afghanistan,” they said.
“Australia’s Travel Advice for Afghanistan is ‘Do Not Travel’ due to the extremely dangerous security situation and the very high threat of terrorist attack.
“Our ability to provide consular assistance in Afghanistan is severely limited.
“Australians, anywhere in the world, engaging with the Taliban have obligations under Australian sanctions law.”