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Taliban on door-to-door revenge hunt for Afghans who helped US, NATO

Taliban fighters. (Department of Defense photo by Lt. j. g. Joe Painter)
August 20, 2021

The Taliban are going door-to-door in a hunt for Afghans who helped U.S. and NATO forces throughout the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan and they are threatening family members, according to a new report for the United Nations revealed this week.

The report conducted by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses (also known as RHIPTO), a group that provides intelligence research for the U.N., said the Taliban have been going door-to-door and “arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.”

RHIPTO shared its latest report with the U.N. and it was also seen and reported by the New York Times on Wednesday.

According to the New York Times, the report said members of Afghanistan’s military and police forces, as well as people who worked for investigative units in the now-collapsed U.S.-backed Afghan government, were at particular risk for Taliban reprisals.

As part of its evidence, the RHIPTO report shared a reproduced letter dated Monday, Aug. 16, from the Taliban to an unnamed counterterrorism official in Afghanistan who had worked with U.S. and British officials. The unnamed official went into hiding before the insurgents came to his apartment.

The Taliban letter called for the official to turn himself into the Military and Intelligence Commission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the name the Taliban have given for their de facto government — located in Kabul. If the official did not do as instructed, the letter warned the official’s family members “will be treated based on Shariah law.”

“There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, the director of RHIPTO, told the BBC.

The new RHIPTO report comes after the Taliban gave assurances of amnesty throughout the country following their capture of Kabul on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported Taliban leaders called for amnesty earlier this week, but that it was unclear what they meant by the term. Some Taliban leaders have said they won’t seek revenge on those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign countries, but by Monday, some in Kabul told the Associated Press that Taliban fighters have lists of people who cooperated with the government and are trying to track them down.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden have both said this week that they are working to evacuate both Americans and at-risk Afghan allies from the U.S.-controlled Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Biden said, “The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone that should come out and that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now, that’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there.”

On Wednesday, Austin said, “We’re going to get everyone that we can possibly evacuate evacuated. And I’ll do that as long as we possibly can until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.”