NYTimes Gives Taliban Leader an Audience on Its Op-Ed Page

‘They’re giving a pretty nasty individual…this platform…’

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(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The New York Times published an op-ed Thursday that was written by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban, titled, “What We, The Taliban, Want.”

Haqqani, an FBI-designated terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head, wrote the article to outline the Taliban’s desires in peace talks with the United Staes, The Huffington Post reported.

The Times did not print an op-ed to dispute Haqqani’s claims, nor did it note that the author’s father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded the Haqqani network, a militant group that attacks US-let NATO soldiers.

In the article, Haqqani describes the Taliban’s hesitation in reopening discussions with America, but he said the group ultimately decided that they must accept “any potential opportunity for peace no matter how meager the prospects of its success.”

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“For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved,” he wrote. “Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop.”

“We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States,” he continued. “We were forced to defend ourselves. The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand.”

Immediate blowback followed the op-ed’s publication.

The chairman of Afghanistan’s largest media company, Saad Mohseni, called the decision “a disgrace,” The Daily Beast reported.

“The problem with this op-ed is that they’re giving a pretty nasty individual, with a track record [of terrorism] second to none of anyone else on the planet, this platform,” Mohseni said. “The New York Times is a hard place to get an op-ed in.”

Danielle Rhoades Ha, the vice president of communications for the Times, defended the newspaper’s decision.

“We know firsthand how dangerous and destructive the Taliban is,” Ha said, referencing Times reporters who the Taliban kidnapped. “But, our mission at Times Opinion is to tackle big ideas from a range of newsworthy viewpoints.”