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Freed Taliban Hostage Australian Professor Says He Never Gave Up Hope

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2019)

Timothy Weeks, an Australian professor who was recently freed by the Taliban in a prisoner swap said that the “long and tortuous ordeal” had an intense effect on him.

Speaking in a press conference in Sydney on Sunday, Weeks, 50, said that hope helped him survive the ordeal.

Weeks and Kevin King, the two professors at The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) were abducted by the Taliban militant group in August 2016 outside the University in Kabul.

“At times, I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I loved again,” Weeks said adding, “But, by the will of God, I am here. I am alive and I am safe. And I am free.”

“There is nothing else in the world that I need,” he said.

He said that he had never given up hope, although his freedom took longer than he expected.

“I never, ever gave up hope, and I think in that sort of situation, that if you give up hope, there is very little left for you,” said Weeks.

“I knew that I would leave that place eventually. It just took a little longer than I expected,” he added.

Weeks added that he believed that Navy SEAL teams tried repeatedly to rescue them, sometimes missing them only by “hours” after the two hostages were moved to other locations by their captors.

“I believe, and I hope this is correct, that they came in six times to try to get us, and that a number of times they missed us only by hours,” Weeks said.

One attempt came in April this year. Weeks said he was woken at 2 a.m. by his guards, who told him they were under attack from Islamic State fighters, and moved him into a tunnel beneath where they were being held.

“I believe now that it was the Navy SEALs coming in to get us,” Weeks said. “I believe they were right outside our door. The moment that we got into the tunnels, we were 1 or 2 meters underground and there was a huge bang at the front door. And our guards went up and there was a lot of machine-gun fire. They pushed me over the top into the tunnels and I fell backward and rolled and knocked myself unconscious.”

Weeks said he and King were shifted through various remote locations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan throughout their captivity and were often kept in tiny, windowless cells.

“After almost 1,200 days our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had begun and a Black Hawk helicopter lifted me from the parched soils of Afghanistan. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who worked on the long and complex process that led to our final release,” he said.

Weeks and King were freed in November 2019, in exchange for three senior Taliban militants including Anas Haqqani, Hafez Rashid, and Mali Khan. The prisoner exchange was part of an effort to develop good-will and confidence-building measures which may help the Afghan peace process.

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Da Afghanistan Bank sees increase in gross reserves

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank, has reached more than $9 billion for the first time.

Officials at the bank said that although the global aid to Afghanistan has declined, they have succeeded to increase the bank’s reserves.

Economists also underline that the central bank’s efforts will lure global funds.

The bank’s authority has stated that they have, for the first time, been able to increase the GDP to over $9 billion.

According to them, last year about AFN22 billion was deposited in the government reserves through investments in foreign financial institutions.

Although the Coronavirus pandemic has devalued Afghan currency against the dollar, the authority is pushing for effective programs to keep the value of the currency afloat, they said.

Welcoming the strengthening of the gross reserves of DAB, experts say that the central bank’s efforts would attract global funds for good.

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COVID-19

Concerns over Coronavirus rapid outbreak in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

The COVID19 outbreak status in Afghanistan has turned disastrous, as there are few health measures in hand.

The Ministry of Public Health says 680 new cases of the Coronavirus have been tested positive in the last 24 hours hiking the count of the infected to 15,205 in Afghanistan.

The ministry underlines that there are no sufficient gears to reach out to all patients and that any negligence will have dire consequences for the nation.

“Some 1,112 samples have been examined in the past 24 hours, of which 680 have tested positive, with eight deaths,” said Wahidullah Majrooh, deputy of the MOPH.

He added: “Unfortunately, Coronavirus scope has widened and the tragedy is imminent, and our only hope is the cooperation of the people. If they cooperate, we can control the situation.”

“The consumption of oxygen alone is very high overnight, while there is so little of the product.”

Nonetheless, the health ministry reiterates that health workers are ready to provide services to the people in any situation and to fight against the pandemic with whatever is available.

In the meantime, the Herat department of hajj and religious affairs has warned the imams in the province to strictly follow and pass on health guidelines instructions while leading the prayers, or else, they will be dismissed of their duties.

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COVID-19

Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens to worshippers – Jerusalem

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

After over two months of lockdown for the Coronavirus, Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been reopened, international news agencies.

The Council of Islamic Waqf, which oversees Muslim sites on the complex, said the restriction was lifted after the virus’ spread slowed down locally.

The council also imposed some precautionary measures to reduce the risk of contagion at Islam’s third-holiest site.

That is, worshippers must wear face masks and bring personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.

It worth mentioning that the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam.

The mosque was built on top of the Temple Mount, known as the Al Aqsa Compound or Haram-e-Sharif in Islam.

Celebrating the reopening, dozens of Muslims gathered in front of the large wooden doors, pronouncing, “God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood.”

Reportedly, the resumption of prayers capped a somber period for Jerusalem’s Muslims, who this year marked the fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday without their usual daily visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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