Aug 20, 2021 - World

UN document: Taliban "hunt down" Afghan allies in "targeted door-to-door visits"

- Taliban fighters stand guard along a road
Taliban fighters stand guard along a road in Herat on Aug. 19. Photo: Aref Karimi/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban are "intensifying the hunt-down" of individuals who worked with the Afghan government and its allied forces, conducting "targeted door-to-door visits" and arresting or threatening family members of "target individuals" unless they surrender, according to a confidential UN document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Taliban have promised amnesty to their opponents and sought to cast themselves as more moderate than when they ruled in the 1990s. But reports of door-to-door searches and targeted killings, as well as this week's crackdown on protesters, have renewed fears the group will return to its brutal and repressive rule.

What they're saying: "The Taliban have been conducting advance mapping of individuals prior to the take-over of all major cities," according to the document written by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group that provides intelligence assessments to the UN.

  • "There are priority lists of individuals and unit affiliations to be arrested including intelligence service, SOF [special operations forces] units, police and armed forces," says the document, dated Wednesday.
  • The document also includes a letter, believed to have been sent by the Taliban to someone in Afghanistan who had worked with the U.S. and U.K., that instructs the recipient to report to the headquarters of the "Military and Intelligence Commission of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."
  • "If you do not report to the Commission, your family members will be arrested instead, and you are responsible for this," reads the letter, translated from Pashto by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses.
  • The document was first reported by the New York Times.

The big picture: The findings outlined in the UN document come amid several reports of targeted killings by the Taliban.

  • Militants with the group were "hunting" for a Deutsche Welle journalist and shot dead a member of his family, according to the German broadcaster. Another family member was seriously injured. The journalist now works in Germany.
  • "The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves," DW director general Peter Limbourg said Thursday.
  • "It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!"
  • Amnesty International said in a report published Thursday that Taliban fighters killed nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan's Ghazni province last month. Hazaras are Shiite Muslims who were targeted by the Taliban during their previous rule.
  • Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, Amnesty International said.

The Taliban have also violently cracked down on rare protests in several cities, as well as groups of Afghans hoping to get to the airport to flee the country.

  • The group opened fire on protesters waving the national flag in the eastern city of Asadabad on Thursday, killing several people, according to Reuters.
  • They violently broke up a protest of about 200 people in Kabul, per the New York Times. The group also declared a curfew in the city of Khost after protests broke out.
  • Despite assuring the U.S. the new government would allow safe passage of civilians to the airport in Kabul, the Taliban have placed checkpoints outside its perimeter and have been violently pushing back those seeking to flee the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials said Thursday that 7,000 people have been evacuated since Saturday, and an additional 6,000 people were ready to be flown out of the country.

  • The Biden administration has faced sharp criticism over its response to the rapid collapse of Afghanistan and its chaotic evacuation effort, including of Afghans who worked with the U.S.
  • President Biden told ABC News this week that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means staying past the White House's Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
  • Biden is scheduled to speak later on Friday about the evacuation effort.

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