Abduction and murder of former members of Afghanistan security force continue unabated
Abduction and murder continues in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its first comprehensive report on the summary execution and disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) who were forced to surrender to the Taliban or were later identified and abducted by the Taliban. The HRW report covers incidents between August 15 and October 31, 2021.
While the HRW report highlights a specific number, 47, a cursory browsing of the social media pages of some Afghan activists and media organizations show that the number is much higher than what the HRW was able to document and report on.
I browsed through the Facebook pages of a well-respected Afghan journalist, Mukhtar Wafayee, and the Facebook page of a prominent Afghanistan-based Newspaper, Etilaatroz Daily for reports of suspicious deaths, assassinations, or in most cases open arrests by the Taliban of Afghan citizens across Afghanistan. Assuming that most of these killings during the post-Taliban take over were authenticated and reported by the HRW, I focused on the posts between October 24 and December 5, 2021.
As listed below, there are almost daily tragic incidents across Afghanistan involving people with ties to the former government or being perceived as the “enemies” of the Islamic Emirates. Family members of former ANSF officers have been detained and tortured by the Taliban.
These deadly incidents show that the Taliban, despite their public denial of being behind the killings, and their highly publicized and promoted public amnesty, have continued the kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, and killing of former members of the ANSF, former Afghan government employees, and civil society activists.
The Taliban have not spared even bodyguards of former politicians. Most of these bodyguards were not part of the ANSF. They were employed by the politicians directly. In most cases, they were members of the politician’s extended family or from the politician’s own clans or villages/towns. They were paid by the former government only if the politician had some official connections with, or responsibility in, the government.
When you go through these reports/posts, you notice that none of these are duplicates. In other words, none of the incidents reported by Mr. Wafayee were reported by Etilaatroz or vice versa.
Aware of the the same patterns of assassinations and kidnappings regularly carried out by the Taliban before their full take over of Afghanistan against members of the ANSF, government employees, civil society/human rights activists, and local elders accused of supporting the Afghan and the U.S. governments, the U.S. government in September of this year hastily, and rightly so, announced the special processing of Humanitarian Parole applications for Afghan nationals at risk of reprisals by the Taliban. The U.S. intelligence agencies had a fuller picture of the Taliban’s deadly reprisal machinery as compared to what was publicly known. The U.S. government was, therefore, able to precisely foresee that once in full control, the Taliban would continue settling scores with their former enemies but this time unfazed and with full access to those individuals.
Meanwhile, after assuming the full power, desperate for international recognition and foreign aid, the Taliban deceivingly announced their so-called ‘public amnesty‘ for everyone, including for former members of the ANSF.
The reality on the ground, however, is totally different. The target killings by the Taliban never stopped. Several reports, including those by the Amnesty International, the HRW, and other local and international news agencies have highlighted these target killings, albeit rather sparingly.
The amnesty announcement by the Taliban and its widespread media coverage, fueled by a multi-million dollar PR campaign, seems to have convinced government officials in the Western world, including the United States, that the Taliban would not harm their former enemies. This is evidenced by the U.S. government’s mass denial of thousands of applications for Humanitarian Parole filed on behalf of Afghan nationals at risk of being targeted by the Taliban.
The denial letters received by immigration advocates across the U.S. this week show that the U.S. government have actually bought into this lie and deceit by the Taliban – that everyone is safe in their Emirate includingmembers of the ANSF, government employees, civil society/human rights activists, and local elders accused of supporting the Afghan government.
The denial letters issued by the USCIS, among others, suggest that the U.S. government, despite having a fuller picture of the deadly realities on the ground in Afghanistan, expect the same beneficiaries, whose peers are being gunned down daily across Afghanistan, must provide “documentation from a credible third-party source specifically naming the beneficiary and outlining the serious harm they face and the imminence of the harm in the location where the beneficiary is located.”
Alas, the Taliban, now in full power, have stopped issuing their previously-used threat letters. They now calmly and quietly identify, locate, kidnap, torture, and kill their former enemies across Afghanistan.
It is worth remembering that the Taliban are following a successful playbook when it comes to deflecting responsibility for these target killings. Prior to their full take over of Afghanistan, the Taliban took responsibility only for these target killings involving more prominent Afghan government officials or members of the security forces including Afghan Air Force pilots and members of the Afghan Army’s Special Forces Unit. They did not take responsibility for the rest of the target killings. But it was an open secret that the Taliban were behind the majority of those killings, which included journalists, human rights/civil society activists and local elders.
Sticking with the same successful strategy, the Taliban continue to publicly deny being behind these recent kidnappings and assassinations. Mockingly, the Taliban officials now even announce that they would initiate “a formal investigation” on these killings, after some of these incidents get media coverage.
Below is a brief recounting of some of these instances of detention, kidnapping, target killings and assassinations reported only by two sources, Mukhtar Wafayee, and Etilaatroz Daily, covering a period of about 6 weeks:
1. Abdul Malik Ahamadi, a local officer of the NDS was suspiciously killed in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif (see the news story for more details) on December 3, 2021.
A news story authored by Mr. Wafayee for the Independent Farsi documents several other instances of imprisonment and torture by the Taliban of the former members of the so-called local Popular Uprising Forces.
2. Gul Rahman, a former senior officer of the 011 branch of the former National Directorate of Security (NDS) was assassinated in the Kart-e-Naw area of Kabul on Thursday December 2, 2021. Relying on Taliban’s public amnesty, Gul Rahman had returned to Kabul after spending three months in hiding to get a passport hoping to get out of Afghanistan. He was identified and killed within two weeks of his return to Kabul.
3. Another post on Mr. Wafayee’s page published on December 2, 2021 reports on the killing of a man in the Central Highlands, Hazarajat, province of Daikundi. According to Mr. Wafayee, a man named Mohammad Ali Karbalayee went missing a month ago after visiting a local government office to follow on a legal matter. His body, with signs of extreme torture, was found after a month inside a well in the area. Based on a local source, the Taliban killed Mr. Karbalayee on suspicion of being a former member of the Local Popular Uprising Forces.
4. Under the same post, a comment by a Facebook user reads that Mohammad Arif, a resident of Jaghatu district of Ghazni province was arrested “last night” by the Taliban at his home. “This morning, his body was found three kilometers away from his home.”
5. On November 26, 2021 Mr. Wafayee reported on the arrest and subsequent torture and killing of two former security guards, Jawed Nazari and Sami Mujahid. See below. According to Mr. Wafayee, the Taliban arrested them in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. They were shot dead after several days of torture in a Taliban jail. Their bodies were returned to their families on Thursday November 25, 2021.
6. On December 1, 2021 a former army soldier was gunned down in Paktia province. According to Etilaatroz, Misr Khan was shot dead in Koz Alisangi area of Zazi Aryub district of Paktia province on Wednesday December 1.
7. A member of the former Special Forces was gunned down in Jalalabad city on November 22, 2021.
8. A former police officer was killed in Ghor province. Etilaaat Roz reported that on Wednesday November 24, 2021, armed men attacked Nasir Ahamd Vakilzadeh, a former police chief in the Shahrak district of Ghor province, killing him inside his home.
9. On October 24, 2021, the body of Ezatullah Aryan, a former Chief of the Police of Gardiz city’s First District was found in Ghardiz city, the main city and capital of Paktia province.
These killings are not limited to the former members of security forces only.
10. On November 29, Gul Zaman Hussein, an employee of Brishna, Afghanistan’s national power utility company, was killed by unknown gunmen in Jalalabad city.
11. Another government employee, Khyber Ayubi, was killed in Jalalabad city on November 22, 2021.
12. On the same date, armed gunmen abducted the head of the Shariah department of Ghazni University Mr. Sayeed Asif Hashimi in the city of Ghazni. He has been missing since.
13. On or around November 25, 2021, Navid Ahmad a young man from Helmand province was arrested by the local Taliban government officials after he criticized the Taliban on a Facebook post. Navid’s brother later said that they located Navid’s “brutally tortured body” at a local hospital.
14. Noor Mohammad Yahya, a tribal elder from Paktika province was killed by unknown gunmen on or around November 18, 2021. Mr. Yahya was an ally of the former Afghan government.
15. On Wednesday November 17, unidentified gunmen killed Sami Sherzad, a recent graduate of the Nengarhar University’s Computer Science Faculty. His family had told TOLO News that they had no enmity with anyone and did not why was he killed.
The above incidents are part of the same pattern taking place across Afghanistan, most of which remain unfortunately unreported.
Family members of former ANSF have been detained and tortured by the Taliban.
17. According to a news story by Mr. Wafayee, published on Independent Farsi on December 6, 2021, Faizullah Nazari, a former ANSF officer who has fled Afghanistan, reported that the Taliban have detained his brother and cousin in Takhar province, both of whom are farmers. They have been in Taliban detention for the past two months. Taliban have reportedly been torturing them, asking about Mr. Nazari’s whereabouts and for hidden weapons.
This post would be updated on a weekly basis to document these suspicious assassinations.