The United States completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan on Monday, ending 20 years of war that culminated in the militant Taliban’s return to power.
Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit. Following a chaotic evacuation, they leave behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation.
Celebratory gunfire rang out in Kabul after completion of the U.S. pullout that ended America’s longest war.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf said: “The last U.S. soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence,” Al Jazeera TV reported on Monday.
President Joe Biden said in a statement after the withdrawal that the world would hold the Taliban to their commitment to allow safe passage for those to want to leave Afghanistan.
“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” said Biden, who thanked the U.S. military for carrying out the dangerous evacuation. He plans to address the American people on Tuesday afternoon.
The operation was completed before the Tuesday deadline set by Biden, who has drawn heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of Afghanistan since the Taliban took over Kabul earlier this month after a lightning advance.
General Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon briefing that the chief U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last C-17 flight out.
“Every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with 100% certainty,” he said.
Two U.S. officials said “core” diplomatic staff were among the 6,000 Americans to have left. McKenzie added the final flights did not include the less than 250 Americans who expressed a desire to leave but could not get to the airport.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,” McKenzie told reporters.
More than 122,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban regained control of the country two decades after being removed from power by a U.S.-led invasion.
Tuesday’s deadline for troops to leave was set by Biden, fulfilling an agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor, Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
The Democratic president said the United States long ago achieved the objectives it set in ousting the Taliban in 2001 for harboring al Qaeda militants who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
The United States and its Western allies scrambled to save citizens of their own countries as well as translators, local embassy staff, civil rights activists, journalists and other Afghans vulnerable to reprisals.
The evacuations became even more perilous when a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State – enemy of both the West and the Taliban – killed 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghans waiting by the airport gates on Thursday.
Biden promised after the bloody Kabul airport attack to hunt down the people responsible.
The departure took place after U.S. anti-missile defenses intercepted rockets fired at Kabul’s airport.
A U.S. official said initial reports did not indicate any U.S. casualties from as many as five missiles fired on the airport. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.
In recent days, Washington has warned of more attacks, while carrying out two air strikes. It said both hit Islamic State targets, one thwarting an attempted suicide bombing in Kabul on Sunday by destroying a car packed with explosives, but which Afghans said had struck civilians.
The United States said on Saturday it had killed two Islamic State militants with a drone attack. On Sunday, U.S. officials said a drone strike killed a suicide car bomber suspected of preparing to attack the airport.
TALIBAN IN CONTROL
Most of the more than 20 allied countries involved in airlifting Afghans and their citizens out of Kabul said they had completed evacuations by Friday. Britain, closely involved in the war from the start, said on Saturday it had finished evacuations and withdrawn the last of its troops.
The chaotic scenes outside the airport for the past two weeks, where thousands thronged every day to try to get past the gates, were a bitter coda to the West’s two-decade involvement in Afghanistan.
While the Taliban have sought to present a more moderate face to the world and erase memories of the harsh fundamentalist rule they practised in the 1990s, the desperation by many Afghans to flee the country showed clearly the fear inspired by the Islamist group.
Their seizure of the city on Aug. 15 after the Western-backed government collapsed without a fight and President Ashraf Ghani fled, completed a rapid campaign that saw them sweep up all the country’s major cities in a week.
It is unclear whether the U.S. pullout represents the end of American military involvement in Afghanistan – given Washington’s interest in punishing Islamic State for the airport attack, and keeping the country from becoming a haven for militants.
Now in full control of the country, the Taliban must revive a war-shattered economy but without being able to count on the billions of dollars in foreign aid that flowed to the previous ruling elite and fed systemic corruption.
Cut off from some $9 billion in foreign reserves and missing thousands of educated specialists who have joined the exodus, the inexperienced new administration must deal with a collapse in the afghani currency and rising food inflation.
Banks remain closed, despite promises they would reopen, and the economic hardship facing those left behind has worsened dramatically.
At the same time, the population outside the cities is facing what U.N. officials have called a catastrophic humanitarian situation worsened by a severe drought. The U.N. refugee agency says up to half a million Afghans could flee their homeland by year-end.
Crypto is a danger to world economy, tool for money laundry- EFCC Boss
Advancement in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies increasingly portends huge risks to the world economy, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said.
This, according to Bawa, is partly because, many criminals now play significant roles in crypto-currency markets. He said the virtual currencies had become their preferred mediums of exchange.
Bawa spoke while delivering his keynote address Monday at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, ‘Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?’
The event was organised by the Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who captured some highlights of the event in a statement, quoting Bawa as saying, “The developments in new technologies and the growth of cryptocurrencies portrays a far greater danger to the world economy than ever before with many criminals playing significant roles in crypto-currency markets.
“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for
cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with Bitcoins and Ethereum as the most commonly used mediums for these exchanges.”
He lamented that “the sophistication and complexity that defines the dynamics of economic crime in the 21st Century continues to evolve, spurred by technological advancement in the global economy that has become borderless and transnational.”
This he said had “inevitably led to the prioritisation of law enforcement action on crimes that drive Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) across the globe”.
‘No nation is immune’
According to the EFCC Boss, “economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.
He noted that developed countries are not immune to the scourge, which, according to him, has “magnified with the proliferation of cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”
Bawa said the platform of the event provided an opportunity to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes.
“As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place.”
He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.
Despite these actions, there have been reports over the use of these digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, with criminals turning it to a haven to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.
PRecall that last month that the United States Department of Justice training over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.
Efforts to fight crypto-related crimes
While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the current administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.
“Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria,” he said.
The EFCC charged participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the symposium, Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organising the event.
Participants at the symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and partners across the world.
SuperTV CEO: Lagos DPP to charge Chidinma Ojukwu, two others
A Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State has adjourned to sept 29, further hearing in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.
A 21-year-old student, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri were again presented. before the Chief Magistrate, Adeola Adedayo on Monday after they were ordered to be remanded for thirty days at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre last month.
Police Prosecutor, Cyril Ejiofor, informed the court that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had issued a legal advice on the case, recommending their trial for murder which implies that the case will now be heard at the high court of Lagos state which has jurisdiction to hear matters of this nature
She, however, adjourned the case to await further Information from the DPP as to the status of the case at the high court that will now hear the matter.
The News Beat also gathered that the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Olayinka Adeyemi, recommended the release of four persons who are also standing trial at the Magistrate court for obstruction of justice and dishonestly receiving stolen belongings of the deceased .
The four persons are Babalola Disu, Olowu Ifeoluwa, Olutayo Abayomi, Nkechi Mogbo, Ojukwu Onoh, who is said to be Chidinma’s adopted father.
One Egbuchu Chioma who was allegedly found in possession of the deceased’s iPhone 7, and who had initially refused to release the phone on demand, is however to continue her trial.
Omoyele Sowore’s younger brother shot dead
Sahara Reporters Publisher and ex-presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, has narrated how kidnappers shot dead his brother in the Okada area of Edo State on Saturday.
According to him, Olajide was killed in the early hours of Saturday on his way from the Igbinedion University where he was studying Pharmacy.
Sowore, in a tribute on his Facebook page, described his deceased brother who almost clocked 50 as an “out-of-the-box thinker”
He wrote, “My immediate younger brother, Olajide Sowore was today shot and killed near Okada in Edo state by reportedly herdsmen /kidnappers on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo sate where he is studying Pharmacy.
“They snuffed out the life yet another real human being!
“Rest In Power, “Dr. Mamiye!”
“This act in itself will not delay their day of justice.
“I travelled widely with you and our father as a little kid. You were the most loved robust kid I ever first knew. You, Mr. magnet had no enemy!
“You, Mr. Sunshine Foundation who made everyone happy.
“You, the boy who snuck out his older ones to parties, taking all the blames when our disciplinarian father found out.
“You, the guy who was an out-of-the-box thinker who decided school wasn’t for you and created you own genre of music and then turned around to go to school after you almost turned 50!
“You lived your life so that everyone could be alright but now assassinated by everything that’s not alright!
“Saddest day yet!”
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