By Scott Taylor
Last Thursday there was a brazen attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Provincial police chief Lt.-Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai and local Afghan intelligence commander Abdul Mohmin were gunned down in cold blood by a Taliban extremist.
Kandahar Gov. Zalmay Wesa was also badly wounded in the attack, and U.S. Gen. Scott Miller, the top American commander in Afghanistan, survived unscathed.
The Taliban assailant had posed as a police official in order to gain access to a top-level meeting. He was subsequently killed by actual Afghan security officers.
In the immediate wake of his killing, accolades poured in for Gen. Raziq, who was proclaimed to be a fierce anti-Taliban fighter. Most importantly, he was viewed as a loyal American ally who had single-handedly secured the volatile province of Kandahar.
“Today I lost a great friend (Lt.-Gen.) Raziq. We had served together for many years,” wrote Gen. Scott Miller. “Afghanistan lost a patriot, my condolences to the people of Afghanistan. The good he did for Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan cannot be undone.”
Those are powerful words and one hell of an epitaph; the only problem being that none of it is true.
What part about Raziq being gunned down in broad daylight offers you the first clue that he had by no means secured Kandahar province? Hell, his own guards could not protect him from the Taliban inside the governor’s heavily protected compound.
The present levels of violence in Afghanistan are the highest they have been since the U.S. invasion in 2001 and the Taliban now control more territory than at any point since then.
While no one can dispute that Raziq ran an effective campaign against the Taliban, many human rights groups have questioned his dubious methods.
It turns out that America’s golden boy had a penchant for detaining, torturing and disappearing his enemies. He was even dubbed the “Torturer-in-Chief” by the New York based Human Rights Watch, and in 2017 the United Nations committee on torture was intent on prosecuting Raziq on charges of torture and enforced disappearances.
According to the UN, Raziq was “operating secret detention centers,” where prisoners were tortured. Then there was an incident involving the discovery of mutilated corpses linked back to individuals who had been under Raziq’s detention.
None of this should have come as any surprise to U.S. authorities, as over a decade ago when Raziq was a junior officer with the border police, he was already considered to be both brutal and corrupt. Fast forward a decade and that same brutal, corrupt officer — still only 39 — had been promoted to lieutenant-general and left to rule Kandahar with an iron fist.
According to the Human Rights Watch report, Raziq’s stock in trade methods of torture included “suffocation, crushing testicles, water forcibly pumped into the stomach and electric shocks.”
To round out his resume, Raziq was also accused of hugely profiting from the illegal drug trade. These allegations were documented by Canadian journalist Matthieu Aikins in a 2009 piece published in Harper’s Magazine, and the notion that Raziq was profiting from the opium and heroin trade was supported by then Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance.
At the time, Vance was NATO’s regional commander in southern Afghanistan, and he is currently Canada’s chief of defence staff.
Raziq took over his role as Kandahar’s police chief in 2011 when his predecessor — Khan Mahammad Mojayed — was killed in a suicide attack in April of that year.
That means that for more than eight months, Canadian soldiers were deployed in direct combat support of this ruthless, illiterate, drug-dealing, torturing murderer.
His death at the hands of the Taliban should not afford him some glorious legacy. He was a brutal thug, and it is too easy to shrug and simply say ‘he was a son of bitch, but he was our son of a bitch.’
We sold the Afghanistan mission as an altruistic endeavour to bring a better life to the Afghan people, not to subject them to the whims of a crazy warlord, no matter how loyal he was to the Americans.