“No entity could receive legitimacy without the support, endorsement of his excellency Ahmad Massoud, because he is the source of legitimacy today,” said Ali Nazary, who represents Mr. Massoud in the United States.
Mr. Massoud, the 32-year-old son of a legendary mujahedeen commander who led the fight against repeated Soviet offensives in the 1980s, is leading the resistance to the Taliban from the same valley from which his father operated.
But the struggle faces long odds, with resistance fighters surrounded by the Taliban and armed with dwindling supplies and no visible outside support. While Mr. Massoud has sought to position himself as the leader of the anti-Taliban battle, Amrullah Saleh, who was the vice president in the toppled government and is a former head of the National Directorate of Security and a former associate of the elder Massoud, last month proclaimed himself Afghanistan’s legitimate president.
Mr. Nazary said that “we are asking the United States to provide material support for our efforts, which would include shipment of offensive weapons,” and also not to give recognition to the Taliban.
Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that came after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including floggings, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as rulers.
Mr. Nazary, who was involved in arranging the contract with Mr. Stryk, said they chose him because he was not part of “the establishment in D.C.,” which Mr. Nazary accused of appeasing the Taliban. He added that Mr. Stryk “truly believes in us and the Afghan people no matter how it affects his reputation.”
While Mr. Stryk has worked with Democratic lobbyists during the Biden administration, it is not clear the extent of his connections to President Biden’s national security apparatus, or what specifically he intends to do to win support for Mr. Massoud.
Mr. Stryk has represented a range of clients facing fraught legal and public relations problems, including Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state oil company she once headed. And he had represented the government of the former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, which had faced American sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption, as well as the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, which the United States considers illegitimate, and a witness in the Russia investigation who pleaded guilty last year to possessing child pornography and sex trafficking a minor.