In an exclusive interview, CNN’s Clarissa Ward was granted access to members of the Taliban at a former U.S. military base in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province that is now in the hands of the militant group that has rapidly seized control of the country.
One Taliban commander, Muhammed Arif Mustafa, told Ward he believes “one day mujahedeen will have victory and Islamic law will come not just to Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day.”
Ward and her CNN crew drove along a highway in the region, passing base after base now flying the Taliban’s white flag—a sign of the group’s control over the country. The Taliban governor in the Andar district said the difference between today’s Taliban and Taliban of 2001 is that the current Taliban “is experienced, disciplined. Our activities are going well…we are obeying our orders.”
One thing that has not changed in 20 years: fears that the Taliban will roll back gains that women have made in Afghanistan. “Islam has given rights to everyone equally,” the Taliban governor told Ward. “Women have their own rights. How much Islam has given rights to women, we will give them that much.”
CNN was able to speak to women inside the Taliban’s compound, who told Ward women and girls would definitely not have access to schools once the Taliban’s seizure of the country was complete. “Absolutely not – girls don’t go to school,” one woman told Ward in an off-camera interview. “The Taliban says it’s bad.”