'Surrender or die': Taliban warns those who helped Western forces
Soon after the United States completed its troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, the Taliban has reportedly pinned warning letters on doors of those who helped the West in the country. "Surrender or die," the letters said, asking them to attend a Taliban-convened court where their punishment will be pronounced, Daily Mail reported. It further threatened the death penalty if they fail to attend the court.
Who are these people who received the warning?
The letters were served to those who had earlier helped the US and allied forces in Afghanistan. Those who received the letter told DM that while they tried to flee Afghanistan, they could not board a flight due to chaos at the airport. A contractor who helped UK forces said he was hiding because the Taliban would kill him if he goes to court.
'It's a clear message, they want to kill me'
Explaining his fear, the contractor reportedly said, "The letter was official and stamped by the Taliban. It is a clear message that they want to kill me. If I attend the court, I will be punished with my life."
Former British military translator called 'spy of infidels'
In the warning letter to a former British military translator, the Taliban called him a "spy of infidels" and asked him to give himself up or pay with his life. Another translator also found a letter in his shoe while coming back from prayer at a mosque. Further, the brother of an interpreter was threatened with a death sentence for sheltering him.
'It is a letter of fear, a warning, a threat'
Another victim Shir, 47, lamented that he is now "trapped" as he could not escape Afghanistan. "It is a letter of fear, a warning, a threat to you and your family. You must bow to the Taliban orders or make sure you are not caught."
Issuing letters traditional method of intimidation
Issuing letters to intimidate people is not new in Afghanistan. The letters were used by mujahideen fighters during the Soviet occupation. The Taliban also used it as both a propaganda tool and a threat in villages when they were in power 20 years ago. So, the use of the same method afresh in cities casts doubt over the Taliban's portrayal of itself as moderate.
Taliban celebrates after US completes its withdrawal
Meanwhile, celebratory gunfires were reported from Kabul as the US completes its mission in Afghanistan. The Taliban fighters took control of the Kabul airport on Tuesday and proclaimed "full independence." "American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said. Notably, the war took the lives of nearly 2,500 US troops and an estimated 240,000 Afghans.
What is happening in Afghanistan?
It has been over two weeks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the capital city, Kabul, was captured. The group gained ground as the US withdrew its troops to end its two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. While the Taliban is trying to form an "inclusive government," several Afghans are rushing to flee the country, fearing reprisals, and the return of harsh Islamic rule.