October 7, 2021 7:24pm
Updated: October 7, 2021 8:25pm
A former Taliban official has been charged in a U.S. court with the 2008 killing of U.S Troops, the Justice Department announced.
The indictment against Haji Najibullah was unsealed Thursday by a grand jury in New York, the DOJ said in a statement.
"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 U.S. troops," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in the statement.
"One of these lethal attacks resulted in the deaths of three brave American servicemembers and their Afghan interpreter, and another attack brought down a U.S. helicopter," Strauss said. "Najibullah also arranged to kidnap at gunpoint an American journalist and two other men and held them hostage for more than seven months."
According to court documents cited by the DOJ, Najibullah was the Taliban commander in charge of the Jaghato district in Wardak Province, bordering Kabul. Najibullah's fighters in June 2008 attacked a convoy, killing three American soldiers and their Afghan interpreter. The group four months later shot down a U.S. military helicopter, the DOJ said. troops and allies, using automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons.
Najibullah and his co-conspirators in November 2008 kidnapped an American journalist and two Afghans, the government said. The alleged kidnappers forced the hostages to hike from Afghanistan to Pakistan, where they were held captive.
"During their captivity, Najibullah and his co-conspirators forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos seeking help," the statement read. In one video, the American journalist allegedly was forced to beg for his life while a machine gun was pointed at his face.
Najibullah was arrested and extradited from Ukraine to the United States last year.
"Neither time nor distance can weaken our resolve to hold terrorists accountable for their crimes and to see justice done for their victims," Strauss said. "Thanks to the outstanding work of our law enforcement partners, Najibullah will answer for his heinous acts in an American courtroom.”
If convicted, Najibullah could face life in prison, according to the DOJ.