A billboard showing a picture of Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a former slain commander of the Haqqani Network, showed up in Afghanistan’s Khost province on Tuesday.
The picture of the billboard was shared by Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary. The billboard shows pictures of Mullah Sangeen Zadran with Bowe Bergdahl, the US Army soldier who was captured by the Haqqani Network between 2009-2014.
Written in Pashto, the text on the billboard glorifies the slain terrorist, calling him a “martyr”. “The martyrs who shed life for religion, homeland, and freedom are such magnificent stars in the country and global history that can never diminish,” read the translated text from Pashto as tweeted by Bilal Sarwary.
“The martyrs who shed life for religion, homeland, and freedom are such magnificent stars in the country and global history that can never diminish.” The Pashto reading on the billboards in Khost city reads. pic.twitter.com/81eJtZ01s6
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) September 14, 2021
Mullah Sangeen Zadran was a prominent member of the Haqqani Network, which is closely associated to al-Qaeda and now a part of the Taliban-led Afghan government. He was among the lieutenants of Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is now the acting interior minister of Afghanistan.
In 2011, the US State Department described Sangeen Zadran as shadow governor of Paktika, one of the most volatile Afghan provinces on the Pakistani border. He was killed in a US airstrike in September 2013 in Pakistan’s North Waziristan district.
According to a report in AFP, Mullah Sangeen Zadran was known to lead fighters in attacks across southeastern Afghanistan and was believed to have planned and coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into Afghanistan.
In 2009, Mullah Sangeen Zadran had captured US Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl after the latter left his post in Afghanistan. He was later released in a much-criticised prisoner swap negotiated by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014.
The US had released five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. Incidentally, four of them are now part of the Taliban administration — Acting Director of Intelligence Abdul Haq Wasiq, Acting Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs Norullah Noori, Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Fazl, and Acting Minister of Information and Culture Khairullah Khairkhah.
Following his release, Bergdahl was charged by the military with desertion and court-martialed. In 2017, he was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from service, a reduction in rank and a fine of $10,000.