Taliban Country to air on PBS Frontline

In a multi-part hour premiering Tues., Jan. 21, FRONTLINE presents two special reports from around the world:

  • An on-the-ground story about the U.S. peace effort in Afghanistan that includes an unprecedented interview with the Taliban’s lead negotiator;
  • And an investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) examining how Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos became Africa’s richest woman.

First, nearly 20 years after the U.S. drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, the group claims it holds more territory that any time since the war began in 2001. As President Trump says he wants to end the war, Taliban Country follows FRONTLINE reporter Najibullah Quraishi on a dangerous journey inside both Taliban- and ISIS-held territory and exposes the harsh reality that not only is the Taliban once again wielding power, but the threat from ISIS looms large.

Quraishi obtains the first-ever media interview with Taliban co-founder and lead negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who says that while the group is ready to continue peace talks, there will be no peace until the U.S. leaves Afghanistan completely: “We are obliged, as it is our country, to defend it with our lives.” And he tells Quraishi that the Taliban will continue to be guided by its interpretation of Sharia law.

In Taliban Country, Quraishi investigates the complex challenges surrounding a possible end to America’s longest ongoing war. He meets with an ISIS cell, where a commander tells him that many of its fighters have defected from the Taliban – and many more will come if they make a peace deal with the U.S. Quarashi then presses Baradar on whether the Taliban can guarantee ISIS will not continue to be a threat in the country.

“This devilry has appeared in Afghanistan and other areas like in Syria and Iraq,” Baradar says. “God willing, it will not last in Afghanistan.” He claims that, “of course, the Taliban is powerful enough to defeat ISIS. We have destroyed all their strongholds in the country.”

With remarkable access to all sides, Quraishi investigates whether that is true, and what it means for the future of the country should a peace deal be reached. He has covered the war between the Taliban and the American-led coalition since its inception, including in 2015’s ISIS in Afghanistana Peabody and Emmy Award-winning report on ISIS’s emergence in the country. His latest film for FRONTLINE is a powerful, on-the-ground look inside the war as it reaches a new and critical stage.

Then, in Luanda Leaks, as part of a worldwide investigation with ICIJ that draws on a trove of more than 700,000 leaked documents, FRONTLINE reveals how Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, built a business empire with access to state funds from one of the poorest countries on earth — and the role U.S. companies have played in helping her amass her fortune.

The documentary shows how dos Santos made hundreds of millions of dollars thanks in part to her father’s longtime control of Angola’s government. She is now under criminal investigation in the country, where the new government has frozen her major assets in an effort to recoup $1 billion it says it’s owed.

Despite a history of favorable deals with the Angolan government, dos Santos says she made her fortune on her own merit — and that corruption charges that have been levied against her are part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

But as part of the ICIJ’s Luanda Leaks reporting, 120 journalists from 36 media organizations in 20 countries spent months examining and verifying dos Santos’ leaked financial and business records, revealing a paper trail of how she benefited from her position  — and how big-name American accounting and consulting firms helped make it possible.

FRONTLINE’s two-part hour featuring Taliban Country and Luanda Leaks premieres Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. E.S.T./9 p.m. C.S.T. Tune in or stream on PBS (check local listings), at pbs.org/frontline or on the PBS Video App.

***Originally published by PBS***

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