Afghanistan’s former President who fled the country ‘with a helicopter full of cash and four cars’ – is in exile in Oman
Speculation about the current location of the former President of Afghanistan is rife, with Russian sources claiming he is in exile in Oman while early reports suggested he had fled to Tajikistan after escaping Kabul and effectively ceding power to the Taliban on Sunday.
The Taliban terror group swept into the capital on Sunday after the US-backed government collapsed and Ashraf Ghani fled the country ‘to avoid bloodshed’, bringing the nearly 20-year Western intervention begun after the September 11, 2001 attacks to a climactic end.
The Russian Embassy in Kabul said on Monday that Ghani had fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash, and had to leave some money behind as it would not all fit in.
However, the former Afghan President’s whereabouts remain unknown, with Russian sources insisting that he flew directly from Kabul to the Sultanate of Oman, across the Persian Gulf from Afghanistan.
Early reports suggested that he had initially gone to Dushanbe in Tajikistan, but this has been denied by local authorities – with a Tajik source saying: ‘The plane with Mr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani onboard did not enter airspace of Tajikistan and did not land in the territory of the country.’
Reports from Al-Jazeera later claimed he had flown to Uzbekistan, citing his personal bodyguard.
One Afghan diplomat who has not been named said: ‘There is no exact information about the whereabouts of the escaped president. According to some sources, he flew from Kabul directly to the Sultanate of Oman.’ However, Kazakhstan has denied he flew via its territory.
In a Facebook post, the former Afghan President said he had left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of Kabul residents. However, Ghani’s critics and political rivals branded him a coward for leaving the country in chaos, with Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, vowing that ‘God will hold him to account’.
It comes as Afghanistan slips back into Taliban control after the Islamist insurgency captured most of the country almost unopposed amid the Anglo-US withdrawal, two decades after NATO forces first invaded the Middle Eastern state following the September 11, 2001 attacks.