Taliban fighters have taken over the glitzy Kabul mansion of one in every of their fiercest enemies: the strongman and fugitive ex-Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Now within the fingers of rank-and-file Taliban fighters, the opulent villa has given the fighters a peek into the lives of Afghanistan’s former rulers, they usually say the posh is the proceeds of years of endemic corruption.
Alongside an limitless hall with a thick apple-green carpet, a younger fighter sleeps slumped on a settee, his Kalashnikov rifle resting towards him, as unique fish glide above him in one in every of seven big tanks.
The fighter is a part of the private safety element of Salahuddin Ayoubi – one of many new regime’s strongest commanders – who put in his firm of 150 males within the mansion on August 15, the day Kabul fell.
The posh AFP information company noticed on a tour of the mansion can be unimaginable for many Afghans.
Enormous glass chandeliers cling in cavernous halls, giant mushy sofas furnish a maze of lounges and an indoor swimming pool is completed with intricate turquoise tiles.
It even boasts a sauna, a Turkish steam tub and a completely geared up fitness center.
It’s an out-of-this-world expertise for the brand new occupants, who for years sacrificed creature comforts for riot, residing on their wits within the plains, valleys and mountains of rural Afghanistan.
However the brand new head of the family – now the army commander of 4 provinces – makes it clear his males is not going to get used to the posh.
“Islam by no means desires us to have an opulent life,” Ayoubi informed AFP, including luxurious is available in paradise, “the life after dying”.
The mansion’s proprietor, Dostum, is a infamous determine woven into the material of Afghanistan’s current historical past.
A former paratrooper, communist commander, strongman and vp, he was the very definition of a crafty political survivor who weathered greater than 4 a long time of battle in war-torn Afghanistan.
Regardless of a collection of struggle crimes linked to Dostum’s forces, the previous Afghan authorities hoped his army acumen and seething hatred of the Taliban would assist them survive.
However his stronghold was overrun and the greying 67-year-old fled throughout the border to Uzbekistan.
Dostum is broadly suspected to have vastly profited from the corruption and embezzlement that discredited the previous authorities.
A number of officers illegally took land to construct luxurious mansions in a single neighbourhood, incomes it the nickname “Thieves’ Quarter” amongst residents.
In a single wing of the big home, Taliban fighters relaxed in a large tropical greenhouse of a number of hundred sq. metres below an enormous glass roof.
That’s missed by a mezzanine dominated by a darkish wooden bar – a testomony to the reported decadent tastes of a common famend for a penchant for late nights and robust liquor.
The Taliban has good causes to hate Dostum.
In 2001, he was accused of killing greater than 2,000 fighters, locking many in containers in the course of the desert the place they suffocated below a scorching solar.
However Commander Ayoubi rejected any need for revenge.
“If different individuals who had been oppressed like us got here right here, you wouldn’t have seen the chairs and tables. They could have destroyed them,” he mentioned.
However the brand new regime is not going to permit such luxurious to be constructed with ill-gotten beneficial properties sooner or later, he mentioned.
“We’re on the aspect of the poor,” he says.