ISTANBUL — When Taliban troops seized management of the Afghan capital two weeks in the past, the invading models made a beeline for 2 crucial targets: the headquarters of the Nationwide Safety Directorate and the Ministry of Communications.
Their purpose — recounted by two Afghan officers who had been briefed individually on the raid — was to safe the information of Afghan intelligence officers and their informers, and to acquire the technique of monitoring the phone numbers of Afghan residents.
The velocity with which Kabul fell on Aug. 15, when President Ashraf Ghani fled, was doubtlessly disastrous for a whole lot of hundreds of Afghans who had been working to counter the Taliban menace, from outstanding officers to midlevel authorities employees, who’ve since been compelled into hiding.
Few officers discovered the time to shred paperwork, and hundreds of top-secret information and payroll lists fell into the palms of the enemy, the 2 officers mentioned.
As American troops full their withdrawal by their Tuesday deadline, a lot of the nation is cringing in concern in anticipation of coming reprisals.
To date, the Taliban’s political management has introduced a reasonable face, promising amnesty to authorities safety forces who lay down their arms, even writing letters of assure that they won’t be pursued, though reserving the suitable to prosecute critical crimes. Spokesmen for the Taliban have additionally talked of forming an inclusive authorities.
A Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, mentioned in a Twitter post in English that there was no settling of scores, nor was there a success record with which the Taliban have been conducting door-to-door searches, as has been rumored.
“Basic amnesty has been granted,” he wrote, including that “we’re specializing in future.”
But there are rising studies of detentions, disappearances and even executions of officers by the hands of the Taliban, in what some present and former authorities officers describe as a covert and typically lethal pursuit of the Taliban’s enemies.
“It’s very a lot underground,” mentioned one former legislator, who was in hiding elsewhere when the Taliban visited his residence in the course of the evening.
“That’s intimidation,” he mentioned. “I really feel threatened and my household is in shock.”
The Taliban swept into cities and districts, usually with no shot fired, making diplomatic assurances to their opponents and the general public. However the first commanders have usually been changed by extra heavy-handed enforcers who conduct raids and abductions, officers of the previous authorities mentioned.
The size of the marketing campaign is unclear, since it’s being performed covertly. Neither is it clear what stage of the Taliban management approved detentions or executions.
The individuals who seized the information on the Nationwide Safety Directorate and the Ministry of Communications might not have even been Taliban: The boys didn’t communicate Afghan languages, the officers mentioned, and should have been brokers of Pakistan’s navy intelligence company working in tandem with Taliban forces. Pakistan’s Inter-Companies Intelligence company has lengthy supported the Taliban of their violent opposition to the Kabul authorities.
The concern amongst Afghans is palpable. All however the youngest bear in mind the Taliban’s authoritarian regime of the Nineteen Nineties, with its draconian punishments, hangings and public executions.
Many individuals have gone into hiding, modified their areas and phone numbers, and damaged off communications with pals and colleagues.
“Folks don’t belief the Taliban due to what they did beforehand,” mentioned an Afghan who labored as a translator for the NATO mission and was amongst these evacuated.
Human rights organizations, activists and former authorities officers have additionally struggled to understand precisely what is going on throughout Afghanistan’s huge and mountainous terrain, however a number of authorities officers who stay of their posts mentioned they have been receiving more and more frantic calls from relations and acquaintances.
“They appear to be doing very menacing searches,” mentioned Patricia Gossman, affiliate Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “It is vitally a lot police-state type of habits. The message may be very clear.”
Folks within the northern province of Badakhshan have been pulled out of their houses in latest days and haven’t been seen since, one of many authorities officers mentioned. There was a sample of pursuit of Afghan particular operations forces personnel and commandos of the intelligence service, often known as 00 models, in addition to police and safety chiefs throughout the nation, he added.
Requested whether or not these actions and studies of killings indicated a Taliban coverage or have been advert hoc revenge-taking by people, he mentioned, “It’s early to guage.”
However the official mentioned that he had obtained details about an inside Taliban assembly at their headquarters in Quetta, Pakistan, the place leaders mentioned whether or not to grant amnesty to some extremely skilled Afghan operatives. The Taliban members had determined to not allow them to go since they might trigger bother for the Taliban sooner or later.
“That worries me if this turns right into a coverage,” he mentioned.
That official, like all these interviewed on the topic, requested to not be recognized for concern of reprisals by the Taliban in opposition to his relations nonetheless inside Afghanistan.
The previous safety police chief within the southwestern province of Farah, Ghulam Sakhi Akbari, was fatally shot on the primary Kabul-Kandahar freeway on Friday, in line with Fb posts by activists. “Some activists have blamed the Taliban,” one wrote. “The Taliban haven’t mentioned something thus far.”
Perceive the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Who’re the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that got here after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, together with floggings, amputations and mass executions, to implement their guidelines. Right here’s extra on their origin story and their file as rulers.
Not less than a dozen former provincial officers of the Ghani authorities have been detained by the Taliban across the nation, former authorities officers mentioned. They named three district police chiefs and three safety officers within the southern province of Kandahar, two provincial police chiefs, a provincial governor and two provincial division heads of the intelligence service, all of whom are identified to have been detained.
It isn’t clear the place the officers are being held or if any authorized proceedings have been introduced in opposition to them. In some instances, they’ve been reported lacking by relations. Within the case of the three district police chiefs in Kandahar, members of the general public had demanded that the Taliban arrest the boys, who’ve lengthy been accused of human rights abuses, a resident mentioned.
A gaggle of political activists has raised considerations that a few of their supporters are lacking and feared kidnapped.
One activist, Majeed Karar, who’s well-known for his opposition to the Taliban, posted images of a district governor and a younger Afghan poet who he mentioned had been kidnapped and killed in latest days. He mentioned in a post on Twitter that he was receiving messages from pals about extra killings.
The Taliban haven’t confirmed the detentions and, seemingly intent on avoiding worldwide censure, have blamed some violence on different individuals claiming to be Taliban.
The day the Taliban captured three high-level commanders after a final pitched battle at Kandahar’s airport, townspeople started gathering in a frenzy on the stadium within the metropolis, in anticipation of a public execution.
The spectacle, an indicator of the Taliban regime within the Nineteen Nineties, didn’t occur.
To date, there haven’t been mass reprisals countrywide, and the killings might show to be instances of particular person revenge, Ms. Gossman mentioned.
Human Rights Watch established that 44 individuals have been taken from their houses and executed in July within the city of Spin Boldak, the primary border crossing to Pakistan from southern Afghanistan. These killed have been members of forces led by Abdul Raziq Achakzai, a C.I.A.-trained operative against the Taliban who was broadly accused of human rights abuses.
All 44 had obtained amnesty letters from the Taliban, Ms. Gossman mentioned.
Amnesty Worldwide reported that 9 males, principally native cops, have been massacred by Taliban members in July within the central province of Ghazni. Six have been shot to loss of life and three have been tortured earlier than being killed, the rights group mentioned.
Numerous former authorities officers have complained that even after they cooperated with the Taliban in handing over their weapons and autos, the Taliban have continued to harass them.
Bismillah Taban, the pinnacle of the Inside Ministry’s police prison investigation unit below Mr. Ghani, mentioned his assistant had handed over the entire tools and weapons in his possession to the Taliban the day after they entered Kabul.
However he mentioned the Taliban have been nonetheless on the lookout for him.
“The Taliban detained my former aide in Kabul, held him for 5 hours, tortured him to drive him to disclose my hiding place,” he mentioned from an undisclosed location. “I don’t consider their promise of normal amnesty. They killed one in all my colleagues after they took over the federal government. They’ll kill me, too, in the event that they discover me.”