We Handed A Kill List To The Taliban
As the Taliban move ahead with the creation of their 6th-century prison for the Afghan people, they are employing some very 21st-century technology. They are using the biometric systems we left behind in Afghanistan to hunt for and eliminate all those who cooperated with the United States and oppose the Islamic nightmare that has materialized since our departure.
The biometric systems in question contain Afghans’ personal and biometric data, including iris scans, fingerprints, photographs, occupations, home addresses, and names of relatives. The United States and other nations created vast systems holding such data for official purposes. In these systems, they stored all sorts of sensitive information including the identities of everyone working with the United States against the Taliban.
We identified everyone who had ever helped us and then gave all those names to the barbarians that now control Afghanistan.
Human Rights Watch recently interviewed 12 Afghans with expert knowledge of the country’s biometric systems. A former military commander still in Afghanistan said that the Taliban detained him for 12 days in November and took his fingerprints and scanned his irises with a data-collection tool. “They told me they took my fingerprints to check if I was military and if they could confirm it, they would kill me,” he said. “I was very lucky that for some reason they did not get a match.”
Using these systems, the Taliban is methodically hunting down opponents of the regime. These include former intelligence officers, individuals trained by the U.S., particularly for special units, and those advocating human rights.
Individuals hiding from the Taliban often procure false documents and take on new identities. By using the sophisticated biometric gear, we left behind and accessing the databases for use with this gear, the Taliban can find out who you really are no matter how hard you try to hide.
Aziz Rafiee, executive director of the Afghan Civil Society Forum, who is familiar with many of the systems, said, “The international community might have thought it was helping us, but instead it played with our fate and ended up creating systems more dangerous than they were helpful.”
The Taliban have created a special unit called Al Isha to hunt down Afghans who helped the United States and its allies. The new unit is employing U.S.-made hand-held scanners to tap into U.S.-built biometric databases and identify those to be eliminated. The records in these databases are extensive. Almost everyone who ever helped us in Afghanistan was fingerprinted and scanned over the last 12 years.
The hunt for opponents of the Taliban is systematic and nationwide. These are not simply sporadic revenge killings. This is a deliberate, sustained effort to prevent the formation of opposition within the country by liquidating all those who could form the core of such a movement. This is a purge.
The biometric systems we created in Afghanistan link to portable devices. These were intended to be used at checkpoints around the country to allow our forces to identify who was friendly and who on the other side. The devices are now being used in precisely this way by the Taliban. They are parceled out to teams scouring the countryside and units running checkpoints.
In some parts of the country house to house searches are being conducted.
Nawazuddin Haqqani, a Taliban brigade commander, told Zenger News that his unit was using US-made handheld scanners to tap into Interior Ministry and other national biometric systems to gather data, including on “journalists and so-called human rights people.” “Those who were barking about having US dollars in their pockets until a few days back — they won’t be spared,” he said. “They can’t be spared, can they?”
All of this is, of course, just as incomprehensible as our decision to simply abandon billions of dollars worth of weapons to the enemy. Anyone building these biometric systems must have known at the time that they could be used by the Taliban to facilitate a slaughter when and if the pro-American government fell. As the Taliban forces surged across the nation and it became increasingly clear then that the American-backed government was doomed somebody somewhere should have had the foresight to see that it was imperative that we destroy the scanners and most importantly wipe the databases we had compiled.
That wasn’t done. Having compiled a master list of everyone who had ever helped us and where they lived and linked it to biometric data that cannot be changed, we then, in effect, handed some of the most bloodthirsty fanatics on the planet a list of everyone they needed to eliminate and where to find them.
We gave the Taliban a kill list. And, then we left town.
Vietnam all over again.