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Taliban responsible for executing more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in Afghanistan: Watchdog

WashingtonExaminer
WashingtonExaminer
 2021-11-30

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Taliban forces in Afghanistan are responsible for the death or disappearance of more than 100 former police and intelligence officers, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

The report , released on Tuesday, documents the killing or vanishing of 45 former Afghan National Security Forces soldiers who had surrendered to or were apprehended by the Taliban between Aug. 15, when they rose to power, and Oct. 31. In all, the group “gathered credible information on more than 100 killings from” four provinces, according to a statement.

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These incidents occurred in Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces.

“The Taliban leadership’s promised amnesty has not stopped local commanders from summarily executing or disappearing former Afghan security force members,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The burden is on the Taliban to prevent further killings, hold those responsible to account, and compensate the victims’ families.”

“The Taliban’s unsupported claims that they will act to prevent abuses and hold abusers to account appears, so far, to be nothing more than a public relations stunt,” Gossman continued. “The lack of accountability makes clear the need for continued UN scrutiny of Afghanistan’s human rights situation, including robust monitoring, investigations, and public reporting.”

The Human Rights Watch detailed its findings to the Taliban on Nov. 7. The government responded by saying the detentions were not for “past deeds, but [because] they are engaged in new criminal activities … [and] create problems and plots against the new administration, [and] keep contacts with notorious individuals who fled the country … It is not our policy to kill someone without trial, whether he is from ISIS or from another group.”

The report also alleged the Taliban are increasing their searches for former members of the Khost Protection Force, a special forces unit originally created to help the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency. A source told the watchdog that “the KPF are the [Taliban’s] first target. The bare looking for them.”

The Taliban have been able to find and access former government employment records, according to the nonprofit group, which also noted that a former member of the National Directorate of Security, the former state intelligence agency, Baz Mohammad, was “arrested,” though “relatives later found his body.”

The situation in Afghanistan is tumultuous for the United States, which left the country months ago after spending just about two decades there. Taliban fighters were able to overthrow the Ghani government and the Afghan military despite training and equipment from the U.S.

Additionally, the U.S. and many other Western allies have called on the Taliban not to reverse the standard of living gains achieved for women over the course of the war in Afghanistan and have used the possibility of international recognition as a motivator.

While the U.S. backed the previous government, it's still relying on the Taliban to ensure that terror groups, specifically the Islamic State Khorasan, an enemy of the Taliban, are not able to have a safe haven in the country.

“We want the Taliban to succeed against ISIS-K,” State Department Special Representative Thomas West told reporters earlier this month. “When it comes to other groups, look, al Qaeda continues to have a presence in Afghanistan that we are very concerned about, and that is an issue of ongoing concern for us in our dialogue with the Taliban.”

Special Representative Deborah Lyons told the U.N. Security Council earlier this month that ISIS-K was now present in " nearly all provinces " of Afghanistan "and [is] increasingly active."

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U.S. officials have warned that ISIS-K and other terror groups could gain the capability to attack the U.S. or other countries in a span ranging from a matter of months to years.

Dr. Colin H. Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that ISIS-K could "generate that capability in somewhere between six or 12 months, according to current assessments by the intelligence committee," adding, "And for al Qaeda, it would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability."

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