Rights group urges Afghanistan to prosecute head of IS-linked group for war crimes

Rights group urges Afghanistan to prosecute head of IS-linked group for war crimes
Human Rights Watch is calling on the Afghanistan government to prosecute Aslam Farooqi for war crimes.
3 min read
08 April, 2020
HRW is calling on ISIS-affiliate leader to be tried for war crimes [Getty]

Afghanistan authorities have revealed that they have arrested the head of the IS-affiliate terrorist organisation Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), and human rights organisations are calling on him to be tried for war crimes.

According to the country’s secret service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Abdullah Orakzai – also known as Aslam Farooqi along with 20 other commanders of the terror group were arrested in Kandahar province.

The Pakistan-born Orakzai and his organisation are responsible for killing Afghans in bomb blasts, armed attacks and suicide bombings.

He had replaced the group’s former leader, known as Abu Omar Khorasani in July 2019 after the group were repeatedly assaulted from operations by the US, the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Human Rights Watch is concerned that the Taliban may not follow due process in the law and try Orakzai and his affiliates in a fair trial.

“Farooqi’s arrest is an opportunity for the Afghan authorities to show that they are capable of securing fair justice for victims of war crimes and other atrocities,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director of HRW.

“Victim participation is key to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to be done, by those most affected by Farooqi’s crimes.”

The ISKP has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Afghanistan that have killed civilians.

The armed group claimed responsibility for the March 25 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul that killed at least 25 people.

From 2016 to 2018 ISKP suicide bombers attacked dozens of Shia mosques and other facilities in Kabul and other cities, killing and injuring thousands of civilians.

“Afghanistan owes it to the victims to carry out a credible prosecution and fair trial of Aslam Farooqi and others accused of serious crimes,” Gossman went on to say.

“The pursuit of justice is essential if Afghanistan is to bring an end to such violence.”

Taliban quits peace talks

The Taliban on Tuesday quit peace talks with the Afghan government after officials refused to approve the release of prominent members of the extremist group, local media reported.

“The release of prisoners…has been delayed under one pretext or another till now. Therefore, our technical team will not participate in fruitless meetings…starting from tomorrow,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheed said in a tweet.

The group's withdrawal from peace negotiations follows warnings last week that the extremist group could launch fresh attacks on Afghan forces if its demands are not met.

The release of Taliban prisoners held in Afghan detention is part of a deal signed by the US and the extremist group in late February to realise Washington's withdrawal of troops from the war-ravaged nation.

Read More: Trapped with domestic abusers: How Covid-19 lockdowns are endangering vulnerable women across the Middle East

The deal requires the Afghan government - which was not a signatory to the accord - to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and for the insurgents to release 1,000 pro-government captives in return.

The swap was supposed to have taken place by March 10, at which point peace talks between the Taliban and the government were meant to have begun.

Disagreements over who can be released under that programme have stalled negotiations.

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