Now in the hands of grassroots Taliban fighters, the opulent village has given austere fundamentalists a glimpse into the lives of Afghanistan’s former rulers, saying the luxury is the product of years of endemic corruption.
Along a corridor with a thick apple green carpet, a wrestler sleeps slumped on a sofa, his Kalashnikov rifle leaning against him as exotic fish glide over him in one of seven giant tanks. The fighter is part of Qari Salahuddin’s personal security detachment. Ayoubi – One of the most powerful commanders of the new regime – who installed his company of 150 men in the mansion on August 15, the day Kabul fell. The luxury of the mansion would be unimaginable to most ordinary Afghans. Large crystal chandeliers hang in grand hallways, overstuffed sofas decorate a maze of lounges, and an indoor pool is finished with intricate turquoise tiles. It even has a sauna and a fully equipped gym.
It’s an out-of-this-world experience for the new occupants, who for years sacrificed comforts for rebellion, living off their wits in the plains, valleys and mountains of rural Afghanistan.
But the new head of the family, now a military commander of four provinces, makes it clear that his men will not get used to luxury.
“Islam never wants us to have a luxurious life.” Ayoub he said, adding that luxury comes in paradise, “life after death.”
A notorious figure in recent Afghanistan history, the mansion’s owner, Dostum, is widely suspected of profiting from the corruption and embezzlement that discredited the previous government. When Kabul fell, his fortress was invaded and the 67-year-old fled to Uzbekistan.
The Taliban have good reason to hate Dostum. In 2001, he was accused of killing more than 2,000 fighters, locking many in containers in the middle of the desert where they suffocated. But Commander Ayoubi rejected any desire for revenge. “If other people who had been oppressed like us came here, you would not have seen the chairs and tables. They could have destroyed them, ”he said.
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