Where is Ismail Mashal?

Published On: April 9, 2023Categories: Fact Check

Ismail Mashal, a university professor, was arrested by Taliban intelligence after protesting against the ban on girls’ education during the distribution of books to female students. He is still under the supervision of Taliban intelligence and has not yet regained his freedom.

According to Mr. Mashal, he is currently residing in a government house and is not allowed to move freely. He expressed his distress and confusion about his detention, saying, “I am distressed and don’t know what my sin is. They tell me I am free, but death is better than this freedom for me.”

Mr. Mashal received widespread media attention when he tore up his diploma during a live talk show on Tolo News as a sign of protest against the Taliban’s decision to suspend education for girls in Afghanistan universities. He also symbolically distributed books for female students before being arrested by Taliban intelligence on February 2.

There were media reports on March 5 that Mr. Mashal had been released, but his family members denied knowledge of his release. Since then, no media outlet has been able to interview him. A day after the reports of his release, there was a post on his Facebook page with photos showing him at the university and with his daughters, but nothing has been heard from him since.

Mr. Mashal said in a phone interview: “Under such supervision that whatever I do, the government [The Taliban] must be informed.”

One of Mr. Mashal’s close associates, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that he is under strict surveillance and deprived of all his activities. The source has not seen Mr. Mashal for more than a month and only talks to him on his mobile phone. Mr. Mashal’s absence has caused his family to face anxiety and economic difficulties.

When approached for comment, Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Taliban de facto government, did not provide details but stated that there are problems in Mr. Mashal’s case, and it is still under investigation.

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