WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Taliban raised their flag over the Afghan presidential palace on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
- The white banner bearing a Quranic verse was hoisted by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government.
- The flag-raising ceremony marked the official start of the all-male, all-Taliban government, a spokesman said.
The Taliban raised their flag at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday as the United States commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ahmadullahh Muttaqi, the Taliban’s cultural commission spokesman, said the group held a brief ceremony to honor the start of its government, with Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund lifting the black and white flag at 11 a.m. local time, according to The Associated Press.
The flag was first raised the day prior at the Afghan presidential palace, according to a separate Taliban official.
Memorial events in New York City, in Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon are taking place on Saturday to honor current and fallen service members, police officers, firefighters and others who responded to the terrorist attacks that took place 20 years ago to the day.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 members associated with the extremist group al Qaeda hijacked planes that ultimately crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville. Nearly 3,000 people died in an event that would lead to a 20-year war in Afghanistan, which recently ended after the U.S. removed its remaining troops ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline.
The U.S. now has virtually no on-the-ground presence, including diplomatic, after staff evacuated the embassy in Kabul. The AP noted that the building has the insurgent group’s banner painted on it now.
The ominous raising of the flag by an insurgent group that previously promised it would not rule under the old guard was a stark comparison to the messages of unity and mourning shared by top U.S. officials during the memorial events.
“After today, it is my hope and prayer that we continue to honor their courage, their conviction with our own, that we honor their unity by strengthening our common bonds, by strengthening our global partnerships and by always living out our highest ideals,” Vice President Harris said on Saturday in Shanksville.
“This work will not be easy, it never has been, and it will take all of us believing in who we are as a nation, and it will take all of us going forth to work together,” she added.
Source: The Hill