Taliban demand “remorse” from fearful Afghan interpreters

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Members of the Afghan security forces take position during a clash between the Taliban and Afghan forces in Mihtarlam, the capital of Laghman province on May 24, 2021, as militants continue their campaign to seize new territory as the US military continued to withdraw troops.
Image credit: AFP

Kabul: The Taliban said on Monday that Afghans who have worked with foreign forces in the past have nothing to fear after international troops leave, as long as they show “remorse.”

US and NATO forces continue to withdraw, after US President Joe Biden set 9/11 as the deadline to end Washington’s 20-year military engagement in the war-torn country.

Many interpreters have already left the country on their own while several have been relocated by their former employers, fearing that after the withdrawal they will no longer be vulnerable to revenge attacks by the insurgents.

“They will not be in danger from us,” the Taliban said in a statement.

“The Islamic Emirate would like to inform all of the above people that they must show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future which constitute a betrayal against Islam and the country . “

These Afghans were previously seen as enemies when working with foreign forces, they said.

“But when they abandon the enemy ranks and choose to live like ordinary Afghans in their homeland, they will not face any problem (and) therefore they should not remain fearful.”

Over the past two decades, dozens of Afghan translators have been killed and tortured in targeted attacks by the Taliban.

In recent weeks, many of these Afghans have staged protests in Kabul, demanding that foreign forces and the embassies they worked with relocate them outside of Afghanistan.

“They are stalking us,” Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter who worked with US forces between 2018 and 2020, told AFP last week.

“The Taliban will not forgive us. They will kill us and they will behead us.

Another interpreter, Omar, who worked with the US Embassy for a decade, feared that without leaving the country he would not escape the Taliban for long.

“I regret working for the United States. It was the biggest mistake of my life, “said Omar, who asked AFP not to use his full name.

“My own uncle and my cousins ​​call me an agent of America.”

The United States, Britain and some other countries have said they have speeded up the relocation of these interpreters and other Afghan employees who worked with them, but the process has dragged on for years.

Last week, the Taliban also tried to calm foreign embassies after the Australian mission in Kabul closed.

The insurgents said they would provide a “safe environment” for these missions to function even after the departure of foreign forces from the country.



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