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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 17:16 GMT
Profile: Nuruddin Turabi
Women wearing burqas
Mr Turabi strictly enforced Taleban dress codes
Afghanistan's former Justice Minister Nuruddin Turabi was notorious for the zeal with which he implemented the Taleban's strict social and religious laws.

Now in his early 40s, Mr Turabi comes from south-western Afghanistan, probably from near Kandahar.

In Afghanistan every vice has to be stopped and every virtue promulgated

Nuruddin Turabi

Before joining the Taleban he was a mujahideen fighter and member of Mullah Mohammadi's Harakat Islami Party.

Known for his courage, he lost one of his eyes and one of his legs while fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s.

Menacing presence

As Taleban Justice Minister Mr Turabi would ruthlessly enforce the Taleban laws, especially the rule that all men must have beards and women wear burqas, handing out strict punishments to those who failed to comply.

In Kabul he was famous for sitting outside the Justice Ministry building, basking in the sun and keeping watch on passing crowds to see that dress codes were adhered too.

He continued to do this despite a number of assassination attempts on ministers in Kabul. Experts say these public appearances only increased his power as people came to both admire and fear his single-minded commitment.

He was known as a deeply religious man, who believed wholeheartedly in the Taleban way.

"It is not simply a question of men wearing beards and women wearing burqas, in Afghanistan every vice has to be stopped and every virtue promulgated," he said.

Loved and loathed

Although hated by ordinary Afghans, experts said Mr Turabi was loved by his ministry staff, some of whom were religious zealots after his own heart.

He was more active and vocal than other ministers and wielded enormous power, refusing to simply sit on the sidelines and wait for orders from Taleban leader Mullah Omar.

Correspondents say he was one of the most successful Taleban members in that he was able to get done whatever he set out to accomplish.

And with the enormous influence that the Justice Ministry exerted over the Afghan population, Mr Turabi was one of the most prominent members of the Taleban regime.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | South Asia
US names al-Qaeda 'most wanted'
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Taleban prisoners released
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
Humiliation for al-Qaeda fighters
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