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Former hostage in Kabul to celebrate Taliban takeover anniversary

Timothy Weeks, an Australian citizen taken hostage in Kabul in 2016 and later released as part of an exchange, returned to Afghanistan on Friday to celebrate the first anniversary of the Taliban-led government.

In a video statement, Weeks said he was visiting the war-torn country to complete his journey’s “part two”.

“I am also coming to celebrate one year anniversary of the government of Islamic Emirate Afghanistan,” he added.

Weeks, 54, an Australian teacher kidnapped in Afghanistan along with his American colleague in 2016.

The longest-held captive in Afghanistan’s four-decade-long conflict, he spent 1,192 days (more than three years) in Taliban custody along with his American colleague, before they were swapped with the US in exchange for three Taliban leaders.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency earlier this year, Weeks, who converted to Islam in the second year of his captivity and preferred to be called by his new name Jibra’il Omar, said he is planning to team up with former Afghan parliamentarian Soona Barakzai, currently in Australia to set up a charity for Afghanistan.

Although he was tortured by the Taliban during his three-year captivity, the Australian teacher wanted to help the new rulers and promote education in the country.

“Once I was listening to children’s voices through a small window in one of the cells, and as a teacher, I adored them. This was the moment of my gradual shift, and I decided to help the people after my release,” he said, adding, “Afghan children deserve an education and a better life.”

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