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American professor to be released following Taliban prisoner swap

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THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:

Professor Kevin King, 63, was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016 and has been held captive with Timothy Weeks, a 50-year-old Australian professor from the same university. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday that he had negotiated their release in return for three Taliban prisoners.

The three prisoners held high ranks within the Taliban, including Anas Haqqani. Haqqani’s older brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is a top-ranking deputy in the Taliban’s military operations and leads the Haqqani Network, a terrorist network in Pakistan known for planning suicide bombings. In addition to Haqqani, the Afghans promised the release of Hafiz Rashid, who built suicide vests and planned bombings, and Haji Mali Khan, a senior Taliban commander.

Both Rashid and Khan also have high-ranking relatives within the Taliban hierarchy. Ghani claimed the prisoner swap is a key step to “facilitate direct peace negotiations” between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

King and Weeks were captured in Kabul, and it is not clear where they are being held. Ghani noted that the two men’s health deteriorated while being held by the Taliban and said their release is “imminent.”

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