The Taliban’s public execution of a young Afghan woman, captured in a shocking video, should serve as a reminder of the Islamist militant movement’s brutality, the White House said Monday.
The 22-year-old victim, who was accused of adultery, was shot to death while a crowd of men cheered on, prompting global revulsion and renewing fears that recent gains for women are under threat as NATO troops leave Afghanistan.
White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the killing, echoing similar sentiments of horror expressed by the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
“Under the Taliban’s rule, women’s rights were ignored, attacked and eroded. This cold-blooded murder is another reminder to the Afghan people and the international community of the brutality of the Taliban,” Carney said.
“The United States stands alongside the Afghan people, and especially the women of Afghanistan, to ensure that the hard-won gains made by women in the last 10 years in that country are not only protected, but advanced,” he added.
The video showed the woman with her back to the crowd while a bearded man reads verses from the Quran condemning adultery, before saying: “We cannot forgive her, God tells us to finish her.”
The pictures then showed a man in white being handed an AK-47 rifle, and 13 shots were fired at the victim.
A manhunt is under way after Karzai described the killing in Parwan province as “disgusting and unforgivable” and ordered security forces to spare no effort in arresting and punishing those responsible.
The victim, named as Najiba, was married to a member of the Taliban and was accused of committing adultery with one of the movement’s commanders.
Public executions of alleged adulterers were common when the Taliban regime was in power from 1996 until 2001, when they were ousted by a U.S.-led invasion for harboring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.