A Taliban judge has given a terrifying glimpse into life under the Islamist group and the fate that awaits Afghanis if the country falls back under their control.
Gul Rahim, 38, spoke matter-of-factly about cutting hands and legs off thieves, issuing permits for women to leave their homes and toppling walls on gay men as a form of execution in his Taliban-controlled district in central Afghanistan.
He added that his aim is to introduce the Sharia law punishments across the whole of the country if the Taliban can re-take control once America departs, saying: ‘That was our goal and always will be.’
The Taliban claim they have already taken control of 80 per cent of Afghanistan since NATO withdrew its forces from the country, leaving local troops to deal with the Islamists. The threat of Sharia law is already very real for many.
A Taliban judge has given a terrifying vision of what life under the Islamist group would be like if it returns to power in Afghanistan, with public executions reminiscent of the 1990s (pictured, an alleged murderer is executed in Kabul in 1998)
Rahim’s terrifying vision of ‘justice’ recalls the worst atrocities under ISIS, who routinely executed gay men by throwing them off buildings and posted the footage online (pictured)
Rahim revealed his vision of justice in an interview with German newspaper Bild, speaking to a reporter close to the central Afghan province where he has been based for several years.
Speaking about a recent case he adjudicated, he said a man was found to have stolen a ring from a house – so he ordered that his hand be cut off.
‘I asked the owner of the ring if he would also ask that the thief’s leg be hacked off because he not only stole the ring but broke in, which means that he had committed two crimes,’ he added.
‘But the owner of the house agreed that only the hand would be chopped off.’
In another recent judgement, he ordered that a gang caught kidnapping and smuggling people should be hanged.
‘Depending on the crime, we can start with fingertips or fingers. For worse offenses, we cut the wrist, elbow, or upper arm. Death by stoning or hanging is the only option for the greatest crimes’, he said.
Asked what punishments the Taliban considers for gay men, he replied that there are only two options.
‘Either stoning or he has to stand behind a wall that falls on him. The wall must be 8ft to 10ft high,’ he said.
As the Taliban quickly retakes territory amid America’s departure from the country, many women are trying to leave – afraid of living life under the Islamist group.
Rahim did little to assuage those fears when he insisted that women will be allowed to leave the house under Taliban rule, though will have to obtain a permit first.
General Kenneth McKenzie (left), the head of US Central Command, shakes hands with General Austin ‘Scott’ Miller, US top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, during an official handover ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabu ltoday
General Kenneth McKenzie salutes as he receives the flag of US-led Resolute Support mission from General Austin ‘Scott’ Miller
Judge Gul Rahim spoke matter-of-factly about executing gays and kidnappers while cutting hands and legs off thieves (pictured, a Taliban prisoner is executed in 2007)
A man accused of harassment in beaten by members of the Taliban as punishment for his crime in neighbouring Pakistan
Women will also be allowed to do to school, he said, though only if their teacher is female and they wear a compulsory hijab.
Rahim’s bleak descriptions of Taliban ‘justice’ recall the worst years under the previous Islamist government that emerged in the 1990s and ruled until it was driven from power during the American invasion.
In one famous image that recalls the horrors of those years, a man accused of murder is seen sitting in the middle of the national football stadium behind a pickup truck where another man is holding an AK47 rifle.
Moments after the picture was taken, the man was shot dead as part of a day of executions watched by some 35,000 people.
Now, more than 20 years on from those images being taken and as America brings its ‘forever war’ to an end, there are fears the scenes could soon repeat themselves as the Taliban rapidly recaptures vast swathes of the country.
The group now boasts that it is in control of some 80 per cent of Afghanistan after a lightning-fast offensive on rural areas – though observers say the true figure is somewhere around 30 per cent.
In many areas the fighting has been fierce and bloody, with the government fighting and losing on multiple battlefields.
In some places commanders have simply abandoned their posts or else negotiated surrender with the militants to be allowed to go home.
But in others, the government insists it has performed a tactical retreat in order to concentrate its forces in major town and cities where it expects to make its defensive last stand later this year in the face of a near-inevitable Taliban assault.
US Army General Austin Scott Miller stands beside British Army Brigadier Olly Brown as they take part in a flag-lowering ceremony in Afghanistan, as the 20-year war comes to an end
While western leaders hope that fighting will end with some form of power-sharing deal between the government and Taliban, many fear the Islamists will emerge victorious and seize back control over the country.
If that happens, then Rahim’s grim vision of life could become a daily reality.
Commanders have already warned that several of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals are surrounded by the Taliban, will militia groups recruited by the government to hold them off already complaining of a lack of weapons and ammunition.
Fighting is currently taking place around Kandahar, Ghazni, Lashkah Gar, Pul-e-Khumri and Taluqan, officers said.
Meanwhile a battle has raged for days in the western city of Qala-i-Naw, which was overrun by the Taliban last week before a counterattack by government forces.
‘We ask the government to implement a proper plan for suppressing the Taliban,’ Hasan Hakimi, a civil society activist in central Ghor province, told Tolo News after more districts fell to the insurgents yesterday.
Despite the risks, the US is pushing ahead with its withdrawal and expects to have all of its forces out of the country before the end of August.
On Monday, the top US general in Afghanistan relinquished command at an official ceremony in Kabul – bringing America’s departure from the country a step closer.
General Austin ‘Scott’ Miller – the highest-ranked officer on the ground in Afghanistan – handed command to General Kenneth McKenzie.
Miller has been in Afghanistan since 2018, but in May was charged by commander-in-chief President Joe Biden with organising the final withdrawal of US troops, to be completed by the end of August.
Since May, most of the 2,500 American troops have left, and the US has also handed over to Afghan forces Bagram Air Base, from where coalition forces carried out operations against the Taliban and jihadist groups for the past two decades.
About 650 US troops are expected to be stationed in Kabul to guard Washington’s sprawling diplomatic compound, where Monday’s ceremony took place.
Top Afghan officials and military officers attended the ceremony inside the heavily fortified green zone.