US charges former Taliban commander with killing US troops in 2008

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The US Department of Justice said on Thursday a former Taliban commander has been charged with killing US troops in Afghanistan in 2008, adding that a federal gran jury in New York unsealed the indictment.

“Haji Najibullah, aka Najibullah Naim, Abu Tayeb, Atiqullah and Nesar Ahmad Mohammad, 45, of Afghanistan, was previously charged with crimes related to the 2008 kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals,” the Justice Department said in its statement.

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Najibullah was also indicted on Thursday for 2008 attacks on US service members in Afghanistan, including attacks resulting in the deaths of three American soldiers and their Afghan interpreter and the downing of a US helicopter.

The Taliban commander was arrested in October 2020 and extradited from Ukraine to the US where he remains in federal custody.

“As alleged, during one of the most dangerous periods of the conflict in Afghanistan, Haji Najibullah led a vicious band of Taliban insurgents who terrorized part of Afghanistan and attacked US troops,” said US Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York.

“According to court documents, as of in or about 2007, Najibullah was the Taliban commander responsible for the Jaghato district in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province, which borders Kabul. In this role, Najibullah commanded more than a thousand fighters, at times acted as a spokesperson for the Taliban, and reported to senior leadership in the Taliban,” the Justice Department added.

The indictment is likely to anger the current Taliban leadership who seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 and have sought legitimacy as a government in the international community.

The Taliban have repeatedly demanded that the US remove its interior minister from Washington’s terrorism blacklist.

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