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Taliban’s ex-vice chief says severe punishments, executions to return

Taliban leader Mullah Nooruddin Turabi poses for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Taliban leader Mullah Nooruddin Turabi poses for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

KABUL, Afghanistan — One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan says the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi dismisses outrage over the Taliban’s executions in the past, which sometimes took place in front of crowds at a stadium, and he warns the world against interfering with Afghanistan’s new rulers

“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi tells The Associated Press, speaking in Kabul. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”

Since the Taliban overran Kabul on August 15 and seized control of the country, Afghans and the world have been watching to see whether they will recreate their harsh rule of the late 1990s. Turabi’s comments point to how the group’s leaders remain entrenched in a deeply conservative, hard-line worldview, even if they are embracing technological changes, like video and mobile phones.

Turabi, now in his early 60s, was justice minister and head of the so-called Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — effectively, the religious police — during the Taliban’s previous rule.

At that time, the world denounced the Taliban’s punishments, which took place in Kabul’s sports stadium or on the grounds of the sprawling Eid Gah mosque, often attended by hundreds of Afghan men.

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