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Afghanistan's Shadow Regime

A few days ago, the Afghan parliament had a heated debate. The focus of criticism this time was not on the Taliban, US soldiers or the Afghan army. Instead, it was about the latest Operation of the NDS (National Directorate of Security), the infamous Afghan intelligence service, which is rarely discussed otherwise. In early January, an NDS unit stormed an apartment in the middle of Kabul and killed five people. Among the victims were Amer Sattar Ghorbandi, an influential Mujahideen commander who once fought against the Soviets, and his son. All victims were unarmed and brutally executed. The target of the Operation was allegedly Ghorbandi himself, who lived outside Kabul and was invited to the capital that day. Why the NDS killed him is unclear. The aged Warlord was one of President Ashraf Ghani’s political allies and supported him in the recent presidential elections.

The question of why this has happened is now to be answered by a commission assembled by the presidential palace. The NDS confirmed the execution of the raid or massacre shortly after the Operation, but did not want to publish any further Statements. With regard to Afghan intelligence, however, there should be numerous other questions.

How the NDS originated

An article by Emran Feroz / person responsible: Redaktion The fact that the Afghanistan coverage of many media often has many gaps is nothing new. When it comes to Afghanistan, in most cases you only hear about the Taliban or the Kabul government. Meanwhile, there are other actors who hardly attract attention. The best example of this is the NDS, the Afghan intelligence service, which was created by the CIA after the start of the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan. By Emran Feroz from Kabul.

A few days ago, the Afghan parliament had a heated debate. The focus of criticism this time was not on the Taliban, US soldiers or the Afghan army. Instead, it was about the latest Operation of the NDS (National Directorate of Security), the infamous Afghan intelligence service, which is rarely discussed otherwise. In early January, an NDS unit stormed an apartment in the middle of Kabul and killed five people. Among the victims were Amer Sattar Ghorbandi, an influential Mujahideen commander who once fought against the Soviets, and his son. All victims were unarmed and brutally executed. The target of the Operation was allegedly Ghorbandi himself, who lived outside Kabul and was invited to the capital that day. Why the NDS killed him is unclear. The aged Warlord was one of President Ashraf Ghani’s political allies and supported him in the recent presidential elections.

The question of why this has happened is now to be answered by a commission assembled by the presidential palace. The NDS confirmed the execution of the raid or massacre shortly after the Operation, but did not want to publish any further Statements. With regard to Afghan intelligence, however, there should be numerous other questions.

How the NDS originated

Since the US Invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 2001, numerous institutions have been created to enforce pro-American interests in the Hindu Kush. This de facto concerns the entire Afghan security apparatus, which consists not only of the military and the executive, but also of the intelligence service. With the NDS, the CIA had created a little brother in Afghanistan, who was promoted in every way by Langley. This applies not only to technical Know-how and logistics, but also to the creation of an Afghan torture apparatus, which prevails in the “War on Terror” and deals with any “terror suspects” accordingly. It is now widely known that the US military and the CIA tortured in Afghanistan and probably continue to do so. But in many cases they let the Afghan helpers lend a hand, while the American “advisers” sat in the background and gave the instructions. Well-known NDS leaders include Amrullah Saleh, possibly Afghanistan’s next vice president, and Asadullah Khaled. Both played a leading role in the Karzai years and were known for Terror and torture. The human rights crimes of Khaled, who currently serves as Kabul’s defense minister, are well documented. In 2009, Canadian Diplomat Richard Colvin, who once served as deputy ambassador in Kabul, claimed to the Parliament of Canada that Khaled was the head of a criminal group and personally participated in the torture and killing of prisoners. In addition, Khaled, like many other politicians and Warlords, was also involved in drug trafficking. In this context, he is alleged to have murdered five UN employees who threatened his machinations. Human Rights Watch accused Khaled of torture and rape in numerous cases and repeated this after he was appointed defense minister by President Ashraf Ghani. Many allegations were made before Khaled took over the NDS in 2012. At that time he was still acting as governor of the provinces of Ghazni and Kandahar. When Khaled was seriously injured by a Taliban attack during his tenure with the NDS, it was Barack Obama himself who paid the head of torture and drug lord a visit to the hospital.

From a historical point of view, the NDS is the direct successor of the KhAD, the Afghan communist secret service, which spread fear and terror in the late 1970s and 1980s. The KhAD tortured and killed tens of thousands of Afghans in the name of the supposed Revolution, which only led to a radicalization of large sections of society and strengthened the rebels, that is, the mujahideen, who were supported by the US, Saudi Arabia and other states in the fight against the Soviets. Numerous mass graves in which civilians were buried remain undiscovered to this day. In this context, critics of the US occupation and the Afghan government repeatedly pointed out years ago that the NDS had also been infiltrated by former Khad agents and that they would seek to revive their former Terror Regime, a brutal police state.

What the NDS does

The NDS works closely with the CIA. There are little known facts and little transparency in this respect, including in matters concerning hierarchy. The NDS would not exist without the “big brother” in Langley. But in many operations it is unclear whose command was the dominant one. There are many indications that indicate that the NDS has become a “rogue element” and a “state within a state”, some of which also operates independently. The raids carried out by the NDS in rural areas of the country are now widely known, especially with the Khost Protection Force (KPF) militias and units 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05. all these militias are armed, trained and paid for by the CIA and are blamed by almost all observers of the Afghanistan war for numerous human rights crimes. The militias are known for their"hunt-and-kill” operations, which regularly kill civilians.

However, the recent raid in Kabul has made it clear how confident the NDS is now in urban areas. Amer Sattar Ghorbandi was not executed in a remote village, but in the middle of the neighborhood of a million city. The infamous 01 Unit, which was recently regarded as a kind of invisible ghost, shows on some days (not nights!) openly their presence in Kabul. This is not surprising, because she knows how untouchable you become.