Taliban team at Afghan peace talks in Qatar to include women: spokesman

Above, opening of the two-day talks of the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives in Moscow on February 5, 2019. A similar meeting will be held in Qatar later this month. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Taliban team at Afghan peace talks in Qatar to include women: spokesman

  • Taliban is notorious for its strictly conservative attitude to women’s rights
  • The move represents a step toward addressing demands that women be included in the talks

KABUL: Women will be included for the first time in the Taliban delegation to talks this month in Qatar on the future of Afghanistan, the movement’s main spokesman said on Monday.
For a group notorious for its strictly conservative attitude to women’s rights, the move represents a step toward addressing demands that women be included in the talks, aimed at bringing an end to more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
“There will be women among Taliban delegation members in the Doha, Qatar meeting,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said by telephone.
He did not name the women, but added, “These women have no family relationship with the senior members of the Taliban, they are normal Afghans, from inside and outside the country, who have been supporters and part of the struggle of the Islamic Emirate.”
The April 19-21 meeting in Doha will be between the Taliban and a delegation comprising prominent Afghans, including opposition politicians and civil society figures.
The Taliban have maintained their rejection of formal talks with the Afghan government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime controlled by the United States.
While Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative country, especially in rural areas, there have been major advances in women’s rights since the US-led campaign of 2001 that toppled the Taliban government. Many women fear that if the group regains some power, many of these gains could be erased.
The movement gained worldwide notoriety when it came to power in the 1990s by forcing women to wear full facial covering and imposing severe restrictions including banning girls from school and forbidding women from working outside the home.
However, Taliban spokesmen say the group has changed and it encourages girls’ education and other women’s rights within an Islamic Sharia system.
Civil society groups, the Western-backed government and Afghanistan’s international partners have pressed for women to take part in the talks and news of the Taliban delegation was welcomed. Fawzia Koofi, a former member of parliament who took part in a previous round of meetings in Moscow, said the presence of women in the Taliban team was a “good step.”
“Only women can feel the pain and miseries that Afghan women have suffered. The presence of women among the Taliban negotiators shows that the Taliban’s ideology has changed.”


FBI eyes Deutsche Bank after money-laundering report

Updated 22 min 9 sec ago
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FBI eyes Deutsche Bank after money-laundering report

  • Questioned money transfers allegedly made by the Kushner Cos. to Russian individuals in 2016
  • Banks are required to report certain suspicious transactions to the Treasury Department, but have discretion over what triggers a report

NEW YORK: The FBI has reached out to a lawyer for a former Deutsche Bank employee who complained that the bank was ignoring suspicious transactions, including some involving Jared Kushner’s family real estate company.
The former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist, Tammy McFadden, told The New York Times in May that she had recommended that the bank alert the Treasury Department to a series of money transfers from the Kushner Cos. to Russian individuals in 2016, but the bank decided against it.
McFadden’s lawyer, Brian McCafferty, told the Times in a story published Wednesday that he was recently contacted by the FBI about his client.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the Times story, other than to say it will cooperate with any “authorized investigations.”
Kushner Cos. released a statement saying “any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false.”
McCafferty did not respond to messages left by The Associated Press.
Banks are required to report certain suspicious transactions to the Treasury Department, but have discretion over what triggers a report. Transactions are typically vetted at several levels at banks and many are ultimately not sent to Treasury. Financial institutions reported more than 2 million suspicious transactions last year. Most such reports don’t lead to a criminal case.
In a report in the Times in May, McFadden criticized the bank’s practices, saying it had a pattern of rejecting proposed suspicious activity reports involving prized clients.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, was CEO of Kushner Cos before the election, but stepped down afterward to become one of Trump’s senior advisers.
The Times in May also reported, citing anonymous former and current bank employees, that several transactions involving President Donald Trump’s company were flagged at the bank as suspicious but were not passed on to the Treasury Department.
The Trump Organization did not respond to email and text messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Two congressional committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank documents as part their investigations into President Donald Trump and his company. Deutsche Bank has been one for the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies and defaults starting in the early 90s.
Trump had sued Deutsche Bank to stop the subpoenas, but a judge in May ruled against the president.