Afghanistan: women who kill, an incongruity in the Taliban universe

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On behalf of the Taliban, Nasreen and Muzghan murdered members of the Afghan forces. But in order not to deny their ultraconservative vision of the role of women, the insurgents ignore their contribution.

The two Afghan women were among the last 400 Taliban prisoners, considered the most dangerous, among the 5,000 rebels released by Kabul this year, and whose release allowed the opening of peace talks in September in Doha.

“I was arrested for murder, kidnapping, and cooperation with the Haqqani network,” Muzghan explains, voice determined and gaze determined under her camouflage veil, in a video recorded before her release.

“I will not join this group again”, assures the young woman with the tattooed hand, in reference to this bloody network linked to the Taliban and which carries out their most complex operations.

AFP was able to consult the judicial files of the two women, and the list of the 400 problematic prisoners of which they were part. Also in this group was the Iranian Nargis, who shot dead an American adviser in 2012.

Muzghan’s age is not known, but she appears in the video to be in her 30s. While her eyes sparkle, those of her aunt Nasreen, 45, who were arrested for the same crimes, are tired and bloodshot in another video filmed upon her release.

As in many Afghan families, the two women have relatives both among the rebels and the security forces, two camps which have been waging a war to the death since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 by an international coalition. led by the United States.

Bait

Two men, a stepson and a brother-in-law from Nasreen, will pay the price. One will be poisoned. The other will die in the explosion of a bomb that they will have placed in his car.

Along with Muzghan, they will also assassinate an intelligence agent in their home using a Nasreen girl as bait, “under the pretext of selling him her body,” said a security source.

The two women will also participate in two attacks, including one with a grenade. They will be arrested in 2016 and then sentenced to death for murders, terrorist activities and belonging to the Taliban.

The case of these killers is “almost unheard of”, so much for the insurgents “the place of the woman is at home”, is astonished Ashley Jackson, of the Overseas Development Institute, a British research center.

“Allowing them to take part, or admitting that they played a role in the war would go against the fundamental principles of the movement,” she continues. “If a woman can fight, what prevents her from leaving the house alone, or breaking other restrictions?”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has in fact denied the crimes committed by Nargis, Nasreen and Muzghan, calling them “ordinary members of Taliban families” arrested during US operations.

“Obviously, women members of (insurgent) families cooperate (…). But women are not included, recruited and are not ordered to take part in operations, ”Mr. Mujahid told AFP. “It’s forbidden. We don’t need them ”.

For a member of the government close to the file, the three condemned, failing to be “Taliban”, could be “criminals who worked for the Taliban for money”.

“Never under pressure”

According to Matthew Dearing, a researcher at the University of National Defense in the United States, the Taliban have thus, unlike other insurgent groups, continued to exclude women from their struggle, because they could.

“The Taliban have never been pushed to such a pressure point by NATO forces that it would have required them to rethink their tactics in a way that would have forced them to change their standards,” he explains. he, calling the three women an “extremely rare” phenomenon.

The case of Nargis raises even more questions: an Iranian married to an Afghan and a police officer in Kabul, she killed an American adviser on December 24, 2012 in the police headquarters in the capital.

If her act was at the time blamed on a mental imbalance and her link with the Taliban was not apparent, Nargis still found herself on the blacklist of prisoners requested by the insurgents, after have been sentenced to death for murder and espionage.

“She was not at all mentally ill,” insists a government source.

In her file, she says she acted under the orders of a man she met at the Iranian embassy, ​​who allegedly promised her a visa, house, car and work in Iran.

According to Taliban officials, two other women, members of insurgent families, were among the 5,000 Taliban prisoners recently released.

Several rebel officials have confirmed the release of the captives, who have reportedly returned home.

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