The New York Times has been slammed for publishing an op-ed written by the deputy leader of the Taliban.
The article by one of the most wanted terrorists in the world was provocatively headlined "What We, the Taliban, Want".
Terror mastermind Sirajuddin Haqqani claimed in his article that "we are about to sign an agreement with the United States and we are fully committed to carrying out its every single provision, in letter and spirit."
The article follows months of negotiations with the US and is the highest-profile statement from the group in years.
Haqqani has a bounty of $10 million on his head for his arrest. His splinter group is responsible for some of the most deadly attacks during the war and his heavy use of young suicide bombers.
In spite of this, in his article, he writes that the "long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone" and that he is "convinced the killing and the maiming must stop."
Negotiators believe they are days away from signing an agreement that would see America begin to withdraw troops from its longest war in Iraq.
However, the article was blasted by critics, including the NYT's own Afghanistan correspondent Mujib Mashal.
He said: "The piece by Siraj Haqqani in @nytopinion – which's independent of our news operations & judgment – omits the most fundamental fact: that Siraj is no Taliban peace-maker as he paints himself, that he's behind some of the most ruthless attacks of this war with many civilian lives lost."
Mashal added that it's even worse knowing "what our news reporting has on Siraj Haqqani, and what the Haqqani Network is accused of over the years." before providing multiple examples of his war crimes.
The Afghan presidential palace also reacted strongly to the article.
Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Reuters: "It is sad that the (New York Times) has given their platform to an individual who is on a designated terrorist list. He and his network are behind ruthless attacks against Afghans and foreigners."
Others have furiously pointed out that the Haqqani Network is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and for sheltering Bin Laden.
Another user wrote: "Remember: NYT wouldn’t take an oped from John McCain, but they’ll take it from commanders of the Taliban, Hamas and others."
In his article Haqqani shamelessly writes: "For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war.
"We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand. That we today stand at the threshold of a peace agreement with the United States is no small milestone."
US TO REMOVE FORCES
Haqqani repeats many Taliban talking points from the negotiations, including how women would have rights "granted by Islam", which would likely still follow the group's repressive interpretation of the faith.
The Taliban currently ban women from education and work and only let them leave their homes in the company of a male relative. They must all wear burqas and are restricted to home activities.
Washington wants to begin pulling troops out in return for security guarantees from the militants and a promise to begin peace talks with the government in Kabul, to be agreed by February 29.
AFGHANS SIDELINED AT TALKS
This has once again angered Afghans who have voiced anger at being sidelined from the talks and have no desire to return to life under the repressive regime, nor appetite for further violence.
Haqqani responded saying "It will depend on a consensus among Afghans" adding that the Taliban was magically pro-democracy now and ready to agree on "a new, inclusive political system in which the voice of every Afghan is reflected and where no Afghan feels excluded".
He downplayed concerns about Afghanistan being used by foreign militant groups to "threaten regional and world security" are "inflated".
The US invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by Al Qaeda, who were guests of the Taliban at the time.
One of the promises believed to be included in the deal is for the Taliban to ban any foreign militant groups on Afghan soil.
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