Photo shows desperate notes of those stranded in Afghanistan as US aide shares Taliban death sentence notice

‘You have been accused of helping the Americans’, Taliban says to man desperate to flee Afghanistan

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 23 August 2021 18:15

Taliban spokesperson Dr Suhail Shaheen says 31 August is “red line” for troop pull-out

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Handwritten notes from people hoping to leave Afghanistan were crammed into a Humvee standing in front of the Canadian and British embassies in Kabul as desperate Afghans try to get visas to escape Taliban rule.

The brother of an Afghan translator has been sentenced to death by the extremist group, letters obtained by CNN show. He was accused of helping the US and making sure that his brother was safe.

The Taliban has been going after those who have worked with the US as well as their families despite promises of blanket amnesty.

“You have been accused of helping the Americans,” the Taliban apparently wrote in the first of three letters sent to the brother of the US aide. “You are also accused of providing security to your brother, who has been an interpreter.”

The first two letters are handwritten – the first letter orders the man to appear at a hearing, the second is a notice that he failed to appear at the hearing, and in the third, which is typed, the Taliban says that because the brother ignored earlier warnings to halt “your servitude to the invading crusaders” and later failed to appear at a hearing, he was found “guilty in absentia” and will be sentenced to death.

According to a former service member who worked with the interpreter, the Taliban delivered the letters, which were written in Pashto, over the course of the last three months.

At a press conference last week, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said: “Nobody will be harmed in Afghanistan ... there is a huge difference between us now and 20 years ago.”

Few Afghans believe the Taliban’s assurances of amnesty and more respect for the rights of women and girls. Reports of the Taliban seeking retribution has already reinforced the doubts of many.

The Biden administration is under pressure to evacuate not only Special Immigrant Visa applicants but also other vulnerable Afghans fearing for their lives as the Taliban returns to power after two decades of US occupation.

Stack of sheets filled with details of Afghan residents wishing to leave the country is pictured inside a Humvee in front of the British and Canadian embassies

Both foreigners trying to return home from Afghanistan and civilians trying to leave their home country have struggled amid chaotic scenes outside Hamid Karzai International Aiport, from which 16,000 people left the country over the last 24 hours, the Pentagon said on Monday.

President Joe Biden said on Sunday that US troops were trying to improve access to the airport as Taliban fighters have set up checkpoints outside and have at times been beating those trying to get through.

Several reports have said that the Taliban have blocked access to the airport even to some who have documents showing their right to leave the country. Many Afghans are still waiting for their visa applications to be processed, some already have been waiting for many years.

Since 14 August, 37,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, a White House official told NBC News.

Last week, Mr Biden said US troops could stay in the country past the 31 August deadline if there were still Americans in the country needing help to leave.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Sunday: “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”

“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added. “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”

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