New York Times under fire for publishing Op-ed by Taliban leader on FBI’s most-wanted list

The New York Times has given a Taliban leader a voice via their publication, upsetting many- including people who happen to work for the news outlet.

The Thursday article, titled, “What we, the Taliban, Want,” was penned by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban and leader of the insurgent Haqqani Network in Afghanistan.

In his op-ed, Haqqani urged the US to work with Afghanistan to seek peace with the Taliban.

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

But critics say the narrative is somewhat misleading- especially considering the source.

“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 most ruthless attacks of this war with many civilian lives lost,” Mujib Mashal, the Times’s senior correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote on Twitter.

Several politicians spoke up on the matter as well, wondering why the Times was giving terrorists a platform to speak from.

“The Haqqani and Taliban are responsible for the death of dozens of American soldiers and atrocities against Afghan civilians,” tweeted Republican Congressman from Florida Michael Waltz on Thursday. “@nytimes should be ashamed of itself for enabling this blatant propaganda from a designated global terrorist, all in the name of ‘diverse reviews.’”

Haqqani has a $5 million bounty on his head from the FBI, and is responsible for the deaths of American troops and civilians alike.

Naturally, the Times defended their decision.

“We know firsthand how dangerous and destructive the Taliban is,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said in a statement to The Washington Post. “But, our mission at Times Opinion is to tackle big ideas from a range of newsworthy viewpoints. We’ve actively solicited voices from all sides of the Afghanistan conflict, the government, the Taliban and from citizens. Sirajuddin Haqqani is the second-in-command of the Taliban at a time when its negotiators are hammering out an agreement with American officials in Doha that could result in American troops leaving Afghanistan. That makes his perspective relevant at this particular moment.”

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