Dirk Frans, the Executive Director of International Assistance Mission (IAM) in Afghanistan asked partners to pass along the following blog post from Kate Clark who is a Senior Analyst for Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN):
We've spoken to a senior Nuristani Taleban who gave a very strong statement about the murdered aid workers. I wanted to pass his condolences to the families.
Below are his statement and my take on the story.
Interview with Qari Malang, representative of the Taliban front of Western Nuristan, responsible to Sheikh Dost Mohammad, the Wali of Nuristan.
(Qari Sahib apologized in advance that his Pashto is not so good because he is a Nuristani).
I can say on behalf of our front that our mujahideen did not carry out the recent killing of the eight foreign aid workers in Badakhshan. We condemn these killings and consider them to be murder.
We have contacted all commanders in the area related to us, including Commander Almas, and confirmed that none of them is responsible for the killing. We have ordered an investigation into this incident, which is underway and we shall inform you of the results when it is concluded.
We have also checked the facts regarding these foreigners and our people in the area have confirmed that they were bona fide aid workers and that they were providing assistance to the population. Furthermore we have learnt that among the killed foreigners, Dan Terry had a long history of helping our people including in Kunar and Laghman and that he had previously provided welfare assistance to the families of those civilians martyred in bombardments.
We regret these killings and strongly assert that this is not the work of the Taliban who will never do harm to genuine aid workers. We can confirm that as soon as we manage to apprehend those responsible for this act we shall subject them to whatever punishment our laws prescribe.
We pass on our condolences to the families of those killed.
(On a separate subject I would like to complain that over the past few days we have heard inaccurate reporting from London Radio and Azadi Radio regarding arrests in Eastern Nuristan. We demand that this be corrected. )
Badakhshan Killings 6
There has been the first on the record condemnation by a senior member of the Taleban of the killings of eight foreign aid workers in Badakshshan on 5th August. Qari Malang, the representative of the Western Nuristan Taleban front, told AAN the Nuristani Taleban considered the killings to be murder. The initial claim of responsibility made by the Taleban spokesman's is looking ever more far-fetched. AAN's senior analyst, Kate Clark, asks, if this was not an operation carried out by Taleban based in Badakshshan or Nuristan, why is the Kandahari leadership continuing to maintain its silence over the murders?
"We have checked the facts regarding these foreigners," said Qari Malang who answers directly to the Taleban shadow governor of Nuristan, Dost Mohammad, "and our people in the area have confirmed that they were bona fide aid workers and had been providing assistance to the population. Furthermore, we have learnt that among the killed foreigners, was Dan Terry, who had a long history of helping our people, including in Kunar and Laghman provinces and that he had previously provided welfare assistance to the families of those civilians martyred in bombardments… We pass on our condolences to the families of those killed."
Malang's on-the-record statement is another testament to the work that Dan and the man who led the eye camp, his long-term friend and colleague, Tom Little, have done in Afghanistan. They had been prepared to work around whoever had power in Kabul or locally to reach the poor and they had friends on both sides of whatever frontline happened to be in place. The work and name of Dan Terry was known even to insurgent commanders in one of the most remote places in Afghanistan. Old friends of different party affiliations and none are now speaking up for the dead, both Taleban and Northern Alliance (see blog 4), NGO directors and former colleagues (For two new tributes to Dan's and Tom's work by their colleagues, see the end of this blog). The bodies of men are due to be buried in Kabul tomorrow at the request of their families.
Malang has directly contradicted the Taleban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahaden, who said a Taleban patrol had killed the team because they were preaching Christianity. Malang said commanders from Nuristan had not carried out the killings (joining an earlier denial by the Badakhshan shadow governor) and they had launched an investigation to find out who had. "We shall inform you of the results when it is concluded. We regret these killings and strongly assert that this is not the work of the Taliban who will never do harm to genuine aid workers… as soon as we manage to apprehend those responsible for this act, we shall subject them to whatever punishment our laws prescribe."
Readers might be forgiven for saying that Taleban do have a record of killing aid workers and other civilians, such as teachers, elders and government workers; why should Qari Malang's statement be anything more than an attempt by him to save the reputation of Nuristani Taleban?
The aim of this blog is not to whitewash the Taleban, but is part of an attempt to try to pin down who did commit the murders of the ten-strong, eye camp team. The initial Taleban claim of responsibility, like that of Hizb-e Islami, was always dubious (see blog 1), but successfully shut up dissenting voices – either because commanders did not want to contradict their spokesman or because of the fear of being seen to defend Christians.
Yet in the face of more local Taleban voices coming out to denounce the killings as murders and to assert that this was not an operation carried out by Taleban based in Badakshshan or Nuristan, the Kandahari leadership continues to maintain its silence.
Senior Analyst, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN)
Web site: www.aan-afghanistan.org