World

UN lifts sanctions on 5 former Taliban

A United Nations sanctions committee has removed five former senior Taliban officials from its list of al-Qaeda and Taliban members in a move favoured by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, seen here in 2001, is one of five men removed from a UN committee's sanctions list. ((B.K. Bangash/Associated Press))

A United Nations sanctions committee has removed five former senior Taliban officials from its list of al-Qaeda and Taliban members in a move favoured by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

On Tuesday, the UN's Security Council Al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee said it had deleted the names after reviewing its original list of entries. The decision means the five will no longer be subject to an international travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo.

The lifting of the sanctions on Monday came three days before the start of a 60-country conference in London to set a framework for handing security over to Afghan forces.

NATO will support Afghan authorities in their efforts to reconcile with former Taliban members, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said. Removal from the sanctions list is among the reconciliation incentives under discussion.

The five men, who had all been high-ranking members of the former Taliban government, include:

  • Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, former foreign minister.
  • Fazal Mohammad, former deputy minister of commerce.
  • Shams-us-Safa Aminzai, former Taliban foreign affairs press officer.
  • Mohammad Musa Hottak, former deputy minister of planning.
  • Abdul Hakim, former deputy minister of frontier affairs.

All were added to the list in January or February 2001.

The UN's consolidated list contains the names of 398 individuals associated with the Taliban or al-Qaeda. It also lists 108 "entities and other groups and undertakings" connected to al-Qaeda.

The Taliban government was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Washington organized the invasion after the Taliban refused to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

With files from The Canadian Press