Taliban demands 'remorse' from fearful Afghan interpreters

The Taliban said Monday that Afghans who worked with foreign forces in the past had nothing to fear once international troops leave, as long as they show “remorse”.

US and NATO forces are continuing to pull out, after US President Joe Biden set September 11 as the deadline to end Washington’s 20-year military involvement in the war-wracked country.

Many interpreters have already left the country on their own while several have been relocated by their former employers, for fear that after the withdrawal they will be more vulnerable to revenge attacks from the insurgents.

“They shall not be in any danger on our part,” the Taliban said in a statement.

“The Islamic Emirate would like to inform all the above people that they should show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future that amount to treason against Islam and the country.”

These Afghans were viewed as foes previously when they worked with foreign forces, they said.

“But when they abandon enemy ranks and opt to live as ordinary Afghans in their homeland, they will not face any issues (and) hence they should not remain fearful.”

Over the past two decades, dozens of Afghan translators have been killed and tortured in targeted assaults by the Taliban.

In recent weeks, many of these Afghans have staged demonstrations in Kabul, demanding that the foreign forces and embassies that they worked with should relocate them outside of Afghanistan.

“They are tracking us,” Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter who worked with US forces between 2018 and 2020, told AFP last week.

“The Taliban will not pardon us. They will kill us and they will behead us.”

Another interpreter Omar, who worked with the US embassy for about 10 years, feared that without leaving the country he would not evade the Taliban for long.

“I regret working for the US. It was the biggest mistake of my life,” said Omar, who asked AFP not to use his full name.

“My own uncle and cousins call me an agent of America.”

The US, Britain and some other countries said they had accelerated relocation of these interpreters and other Afghan employees who worked with them, but the process has dragged on for years.

Last week the Taliban also tried to calm foreign embassies after the Australian mission shut down in Kabul.

The insurgents said they would provide a “safe environment” for these missions to work even after foreign forces leave the country.

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