The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On December 30, 2019, Associated Press (AP) reported that 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be freed as part of a deal between the U.S. and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization). The AP report, quoting a Taliban official familiar with the U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar, states that the release of the Taliban prisoners "has been written in to the peace agreement," which is to be signed sometime soon.
Other media reports indicated during the closing week of 2019 that some Taliban leaders had agreed, during the talks in Qatar, to "a short-term ceasefire." However, according to Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander: "The ceasefire has two components: The first component is to announce a ceasefire before signing an agreement with the U.S. The second part is about a nationwide agreement both with Afghans and the foreigners. I think the Taliban have not agreed on the first component."
On December 30, 2019, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, dismissed reports about any ceasefire having been agreed to by the Taliban during the Qatar talks, stating in a post on JustPaste.it that he also shared via Twitter:
"For the past few days, a number of media outlets have been publishing false and baseless reports about a ceasefire by the Islamic Emirate. Propaganda by some outlets has even reached heights of supposed schism within the Islamic Emirate on the issue of a ceasefire.
"The reality of the situation is that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire. The United States has asked for a reduction in the scale and intensity of violence and discussions being held by the Islamic Emirate are revolving solely around this specific issue.
"The leader of the Islamic Emirate has not yet issued a final decree and neither is there any differences within the Islamic Emirate related to this issue. It is hoped that our compatriots pay no heed to the malicious reports being propagated by the enemy media. Some intelligence circles are utilizing the media in an effort to generate anxiety, false optimism and sabotage the ongoing negotiations process through the dissemination of misleading information.
"The Islamic Emirate will take every necessary and appropriate step that ensures the higher interests and jihadi aspirations of our homeland in the light of Islamic Shari'a in both the military and political fronts, Allah willing. The Islamic Emirate shall keep its nation informed of any progress through its official channels."