On Saturday, the Taliban hung the bodies of four alleged criminals throughout the Afghan city of Herat in a display meant to deter would-be criminals.
Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square, told the Associated Press, that Taliban officials said the four bodies were those of criminals caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier Saturday, who were subsequently killed by police.
Graphic video captured from the Herat showed the bodies being lifted into the air by cranes.
A Taliban commander who did not identify himself told a news crew, “The aim of this action is to alert all criminals that they are not safe.”
Ziaulhaq Jalali, a Taliban-appointed district police chief in Herat, told the Associated Press that Taliban members rescued a father and son who had been abducted by the four kidnappers after an exchange of gunfire and that the kidnappers were killed during the gun battle. Jalali said one Taliban fighter and a civilian were wounded by the kidnappers.
The public display of dead bodies comes just over a month after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan from the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
The Taliban previously controlled much of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 through their formal government, known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Since regaining control of Afghanistan, international observers have been watching for signs that the Taliban may once again recreate the system of justice it had maintained prior to the U.S. military invasion and subsequent 20 years of western military occupation.
Last week, reports emerged that the Taliban would bring back executions and amputations.
The Taliban previously carried out many of its punishments and executions in front of crowds at a stadium. In an interview with the Associated Press, one of the Taliban’s founders and the chief enforcer of its system of punishments, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, defended the Taliban’s harsh practices.
“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi said. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”
On Friday, Reuters reported U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said a return to the Taliban’s past system of punishments “would constitute clear gross abuses of human rights.”
“We stand firm with the international community to hold perpetrators of these, of any such abuses, accountable,” Price said.
“We are watching very closely,” Price added, “and not just listening to the announcements that come out but watching very closely as the Taliban conducts itself.”