Afghan man on Taliban death list refused asylum

Sultan Mahmood is under a death sentence from the Taliban. The torture they inflicted on him has led to a leg being amputated. His teenage son was kidnapped and beheaded. A school he ran has been burned down.

But the British Government has now decided that the 70-year-old former army officer will be safe back in Afghanistan and he must go back. He has been told by the UK Border Agency that he has until 10 June to leave after his application for asylum was rejected.

The Independent learned of Colonel Mahmood's predicament from Whitehall officials with knowledge of the current situation in Afghanistan. They believe that he will face very real danger of being harmed back in his country.

Col Mahmood was refused asylum despite doctors from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture saying they were convinced he had been subjected to extreme physical abuse and was now suffering from serious mental trauma. The judge at his immigration tribunal stressed that he accepted Col Mahmood's account of his ordeal as "credible and genuine" and recognised that the former officer "has a major disability and major psychological illnesses". The authorities, he acknowledged, would not be able to protect him if he returned to his home village.

However, in his ruling on 5 March, Judge Elvidge concluded that although he had "great sympathy for the appellant" he would have to apply the law as it stands. Col Mahmood, he stated, should be sent to the Afghan capital Kabul. He accepted the Home Office's argument that "the objective evidence is that while the Taliban are growing in strength and influence, there is still sufficient state protection in Kabul".

The Afghan capital has experienced seven major Taliban attacks in the last year, including one on a United Nations guest house in which 11 people were killed, leading to the organisation evacuating all but essential staff from the country.

Col Mahmood's brother, Shah Wali, who lives in London, went to Kabul two years ago. During his visit he was shot in the stomach. Shah Wali Mahmood presented evidence of his injury to the tribunal which was accepted by the judge.

Col Mahmood, who has been in England for three years, says there is no one in Kabul who can support him. His wife, Bibi Khanam, and their three daughters fled to Pakistan after the murder of their son which followed the demand of a local Taliban commander that one of the daughters should be given to him in marriage.

Col Mahmood was a member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, a Marxist organisation, while serving as helicopter pilot in the Air Force. After the government was overthrown in 1992 he left Kabul with his family for the village of Zamankhail, a place named after his grandfather, in Wardak province.

The Taliban took over Wardak from the Mujahideen in the mid 1990s, and their local leader, Mullah Sabir, told Col Mahmood that he must start flying helicopters for the Talibs in impending operations. His refusal led to imprisonment and torture. His right leg was so severely damaged that it had to be amputated above the knee.

Col Mahmood continued to live in Zamankhail, keeping a low profile. He seemed to have been left alone by the Taliban who no longer had any use for him as a pilot because of his disability.

In 2001, after the overthrow of Mullah Omar's regime following the invasion led by US and British forces, Col Mahmood was asked by the village council to open a school in the area which would offer girls' education banned under the Taliban.

As the security situation deteriorated in Afghanistan resurgent Taliban infiltrated back into Wardak. "Night letters" began to appear threatening those associated with the school unless it was shut down and, soon afterwards, his son was abducted.

According to Col Mahmood, and the witnesses who appeared for him in the immigration tribunal, a local elder carrying out negotiations with the insurgents told Col Mahmood that a senior Taliban commander promised his son's return in exchange for his elder daughter Deva, then aged 15.

Col Mahmood and his wife refused the demand. His son, Mohammed Zaman, was subsequently beheaded, and his mutilated body left in a sack outside the school, which was later burned down.

Col Mahmood said yesterday: "I am very afraid for the future. I have not been able to sleep properly since I was told that I would have to leave. The judge said he believed me and all the people who spoke up for me. So I do not understand why they are doing this to me."

His solicitors are seeking leave to appeal against the decision.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears