A volunteer helping Afghan refugees to settle in Glasgow is facing calls for his deportation after pledging his support for the Taliban.
Waheed Totakhyl, who says his brother is a military commander for the Taliban in east Kabul, has told Sky News that since it captured Afghanistan, the country is “safer than Europe”.
In 2010, he publicly called for the death of American soldiers in Afghanistan during a protest at the US consulate in Edinburgh.
Newly arrived refugees in Glasgow have called his support for the Taliban “unacceptable”.
One interpreter, who worked for the British Army in Afghanistan and whose family are in hiding in the country, called for the government to deport Mr Totakhyl.
In February 2020, Mr Totakhyl became chairman of the Scottish Afghan Society, which is registered with the Scottish charity regulator, the OSCR.
He is a prominent figure in Scotland’s Afghan community and regularly appears at political fundraisers and celebration events, some attended by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
In recent weeks, Mr Totakhyl has been collecting donations for Afghan refugees. Clothes and donated goods are piled high at the charity’s registered address in Glasgow.
When he spoke to Sky News, he stressed that he was speaking on his own behalf and not for the society.
He said: “Afghans died – 170,000 in the 20 years that America, NATO and Britain occupied Afghanistan.
“They were killed in the bombing of Afghan people.
“The Taliban started defending Afghanistan and what they’re showing now is they were right.”
His pro-Taliban stance, and family connection, has caused unease among refugees invited to collect donated goods.
One, ‘Abdul’, spoke on condition of anonymity, telling Sky News: “I’m not happy with this and I’m very disappointed.
“There has to be action taken, the government should investigate.
“If it’s right that his brother is a commander of Taliban or supports Taliban, he needs to be deported.
“He’s helping support the refugees and he’s helping support Taliban. He needs to take one side, not two.”
‘Abdul’ worked for several years as an interpreter for the British Army and fled the Taliban advance with his wife but had to leave several members of his family behind, in hiding.
He said his job helping UK forces made him – and them – a target.
“They killed my brother and my cousin. If I (was) there, they will kill me too, just for working for British forces.
“My family back in Afghanistan, they are hiding in caves, they are spread, they move to different locations because if they find them they will kill them too.
“They’re living in a very desperate and hopeless situation.”
We asked Mr Totakhyl if he was the right or wrong man to help refugees, given his support for the Taliban.
He replied: “We are all brothers.
“The war in Afghanistan is finished, we are all Afghans here, we are all refugees.
“We request the Afghans to stand with the new government to make a new Afghanistan, (peaceful) Afghanistan.”
Mr Totakhyl, who came to the UK in 2001, said he plans to return to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.