8am: Taliban officials have called the release of Haji Bashir Ahmad Noorzai, known as Haji Bashar, as a sign of American goodwill and a “new chapter in the relations” between the Taliban and the United States. Haji Bashar is known in the media and political circles as the godfather of Afghanistan’s drug mafia. It is said that Afghanistan’s drug lord has earned huge sums of money through managing drug production, processing and trafficking networks and financed an important part of the Taliban’s expenses. At the same time, Haji Bashar is accused of having ties with the intelligence agencies, and there are reports of his cooperation and close contact with the Americans between 2002 and his arrest in 2005. But what role can Haji Bashar, who has been away from the drug market and politics for more than 17 years, play in the Taliban circle? Click here to read more (external link).