On a June day in 2008, three U.S. soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were ambushed and killed when their Humvee convoy was hit throughout a fight patrol by mines and rocket-propelled grenades about 50 miles south of Kabul. At the very least one of many males was dragged off and dismembered, Afghan and Western officers stated on the time.
Greater than 13 years after the brutal assault and a few month after America’s two-decade battle in Afghanistan ended, a person whom the federal authorities described as a former Taliban commander was charged on Thursday with 4 counts of homicide within the killings in addition to different terrorism-related crimes, together with the downing of a U.S. navy helicopter.
The person, Haji Najibullah, was already in federal custody after being charged final 12 months with kidnapping an American journalist and two Afghan nationals who had been taken hostage at gunpoint a number of months after the lethal roadside offensive.
“Haji Najibullah led a vicious band of Taliban insurgents who terrorized part of Afghanistan and attacked U.S. troops,” Audrey Strauss, the U.S. lawyer in Manhattan, stated in a press release on Thursday saying the unsealing of the brand new expenses. She added that “neither time nor distance can weaken our resolve to hold terrorists accountable for their crimes.”
Mr. Najibullah pleaded not responsible to the kidnapping expenses final 12 months. Mark B. Gombiner, his federal public defender, declined to touch upon the brand new expenses on Thursday. The circumstances of Mr. Najibullah’s seize and arrest remained unclear. Final 12 months, the authorities stated solely that he had been transferred to america from Ukraine.
The three troopers who died within the 2008 assault — Sgt. First Class Matthew L. Hilton, 37, of Livonia, Mich.; Sgt. First Class Joseph A. McKay, 51, of Cambria Heights, Queens; and Specialist Mark C. Palmateer, 38, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. — had been members of the Military Nationwide Guard and amongst greater than 2,400 service members killed in the Afghanistan conflict.
The interpreter, Muhammad Fahim, 21, was certainly one of tens of 1000’s of Afghans who had been killed within the battle. He had been working with the Individuals for 3 years when he died.
Calls to kin of Sergeant McKay and Specialist Palmateer weren’t instantly returned on Thursday.
The indictment unsealed on Thursday included scant particulars concerning the lethal assault. However in an article revealed a number of months after the incident, The New York Occasions reported that the boys had been in three Humvees close to a village known as Tangi heading east towards Logar Province after they got here beneath assault.
With improvised explosive gadgets, small-arms hearth and rocket-propelled grenades raining down, one of many autos struck a mine, an Afghan navy official advised The Occasions. However the convoy apparently stored transferring, till a second Humvee hit a mine and caught hearth, the Afghan official stated. The flames had been so fierce that the bushes across the automobile burned, too.
Perceive the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan
Who’re the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that got here after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, together with floggings, amputations and mass executions, to implement their guidelines. Right here’s extra on their origin story and their record as rulers.
The downing of the helicopter in Wardak Province that Mr. Najibullah was charged in happened 4 months after the roadside assault, based on the indictment. The Taliban claimed duty for taking pictures down the plane and falsely asserted that every one those that had been on board had been killed, when in actuality no troops had died, the indictment stated.
About two weeks after that, based on the federal prosecutors, Mr. Najibullah and others, who had been armed with machine weapons, kidnapped the American journalist and the Afghans. The hostages — David Rohde, a New York Occasions reporter; Tahir Ludin, an Afghan journalist; and their driver — were on a trip throughout which Mr. Rohde was to interview a Taliban commander in Logar Province.
The three males had been held captive for seven months earlier than Mr. Rohde and Mr. Ludin made a desperate nighttime escape from a Taliban compound in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, that included dropping down a excessive wall with a rope and making their approach to a Pakistani militia publish. The motive force, Asadullah Mangal, managed to flee 5 weeks later.
Mr. Rohde has written that the commander he deliberate to interview was known as Abu Tayeb, a reputation that the indictment unsealed on Thursday cited as certainly one of a number of aliases utilized by Mr. Najibullah.
A information launch issued by Ms. Strauss’s workplace together with the 13-count indictment stated that the utmost penalty for a lot of the crimes that Mr. Najibullah was charged with was life in jail.
Benjamin Weiser contributed reporting. Jack Begg contributed analysis.