Kinder, gentler Taliban threaten to kill families of collaborators unless they surrender

So much for amnesty, eh? That was among a series of promises made by Taliban leaders after they waltzed into Kabul a few days ago, along with respecting women’s rights and freedom of speech. So far they’ve reimposed the burqa, shot demonstrators, and according to a UN report are threatening to murder entire families if those who worked with the US and NATO don’t surrender immediately:

A UN document says the Taliban is intensifying its hunt for all people who worked and collaborated with Nato and US forces.

The confidential paper was produced by the Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, which provides the UN with intelligence information.

“The Taliban are arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban,” the document, seen by the BBC said.

Thanks to the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the American security apparatus, the Taliban have a pretty good idea where to look, too. In fact, they’ve been working on this project for a while:

“The Taliban have been conducting advance mapping of individuals prior to take take-over of all major cities,” it said.

In that effort, they have gotten some assistance from the US. Thanks to the rapidity of our retreat and the concomitant collapse of Afghanistan’s security forces, the Taliban have captured tens of billions of dollars’ worth of American equipment. Much of that is military, but Human Rights First warned on Monday that it likely also included biometric systems that will allow the Taliban to find our allies with remarkable precision:

The militant group has been seen with an array of stolen firearms and vehicles. There are also growing fears about the biometric systems that they’ve seized.

“We understand that the Taliban is now likely to have access to various biometric databases and equipment in Afghanistan, including some left behind by coalition military forces,” said Human Rights First, a US NGO, on Monday.

“This technology is likely to include access to a database with fingerprints and iris scans, and include facial recognition technology.” …

Biometric data on Afghan citizens was reportedly widely collected and used in ID cards. Activists fear that the information will be used to identify US collaborators and attack vulnerable groups.

In other words, when the Taliban threaten the families with murder unless the collaborators surrender, they know almost precisely whom to target. The threat of murder makes it very clear that the Taliban are not interested in simply registering the collaborators for an amnesty program, either. The reprisals may go on for years, and could run into the hundreds of thousands — thanks to the materiel the US left behind.

Didn’t anyone think to collect those systems before we began the drawdown? Or leave a back door that would render those systems inoperative in case of disaster? The lack of care evidenced by Joe Biden and his administration for the people who assisted us for the last twenty years is stunning in its breadth and depth.

CNN also reports today that the “progressive” pose of the Taliban has not been evident in the streets:

The militants have so far sought to present an image of themselves as more progressive, inclusive and restrained than the group that terrorized communities two decades ago — claiming that they will not seek retribution against their political enemies, and that women will play an important role in society and have access to education. …

And their early actions have dashed many Afghans’ hopes that the Taliban might have changed in the intervening decades. The group’s fighters clashed with activists during the first major protest against their new regime on Wednesday, three witnesses told CNN, firing guns into a crowd and beating demonstrators in the city of Jalalabad.

Women have already disappeared from the streets of Kabul, fearing the new reality of life under Taliban control; husbands and fathers have been purchasing burqas in the fear that their female relatives will be safe only if they cover up.

Attacks on women across the country in recent weeks, as the Taliban regained the ascendency in Afghanistan’s provinces, have provided a chilling preview of what may be in store for millions.

Thus far, the strongly worded press release — excuse me, the “very strongly worded press statement” from the United Nations and Linda Thomas-Greenfield has had surprisingly little effect on the Taliban’s actions. The US has washed its hands of the plight of Afghans, and the UN is simply giving Biden a little political cover for his unconscionable and incompetent handling of the retreat.

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