As Taliban fighters took the reins from Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in a lightning sweep of force in the capture of Kabul, speculations of the government leader’s narrow escape have rendered pictures of him fleeing with a helicopter full of cash, a number of cars and just the clothes on his back.

According to CNN, a former senior official of the ousted president detailed how the government was totally unprepared for the Taliban’s arrival on the outskirts of it’s capital Kabul last week, prompting Ghani to flee the next day with just his clothes on.

The unnamed official said a senior member of the Ghani administration had met with a prominent figure of a group with strong allies tied to both the Taliban and al Qaeda during the final hours of the government’s hold on Kabul. Ghani’s representative was bluntly told to hand over control and surrender.

“In the days leading up to the Taliban coming to Kabul, we had been working on a deal with the US to hand over peacefully to an inclusive government and for President Ghani to resign," he told the outlet. The official added they had received intelligence for more than a year that in the event of a Taliban takeover, the president would be killed.

Ghani fled to Termez in Uzbekistan where he spent the night and proceeded to the United Arab Emirates without any money on him. Speaking from his exile in the UAE, Ghani explained that he left the country in such haste without even changing shoes, denying earlier reports that he left with millions of dollars. He said leaving the country was a necessary move to prevent even more bloodshed.

In the video posted on his Facebook, he said he was forced to leave on the advice of government officials citing that Kabul should not be turned into another power struggle similar to the events that took place in Yemen or Syria.

The Russian state-owned news agency ROA Novosti previously reported that Ghani had fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash, leaving some behind as it could no longer fit in the helicopter. Nikita Ischenko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Kabul was quoted by the RIA saying: "Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac."

Ischenko confirmed his comments to Reuters citing "witnesses" as the source of his information.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan also accused Ghani of stealing $169 million from state funds and called on international police to arrest the Afghan president. Ghani strongly denied such allegations saying these were all baseless lies. “I left with just a waistcoat and some clothes. The personality assassination against me has been ongoing, saying that I have taken money with me,” Ghani said in the video message.

The Afghan president continued to say in his livestream that he is in talks for his return to Afghanistan after seeking temporary refuge in the UAE. He also added that he supports the mediations between the Taliban and top former government officials. “I am in consultation for my return to Afghanistan so that I can continue efforts for justice, true Islamic and national values.”

His brother, Hashmat Ghani, said that the new order in Kabul was necessary "for the people of Afghanistan" and that its citizens need to accept the Taliban's takeover. Although there have been no direct meetings with the Taliban, He also revealed there had been contacts between a senior adviser to Ghani and the Taliban for a peaceful handover to a new inclusive government.

Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani makes brief remarks during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, in the Oval Office at the White House June 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden announced in April that he was pulling all U.S. forces from Afghanistan and ending America’s longest war by September 11. Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images

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