KABUL, Afghanistan — Threatening letters from the Taliban, once tantamount to a death sentence, are now being forged and sold to Afghans who want to start a new life in Europe.
The handwritten notes on the stationery of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were traditionally sent to those alleged to have worked with Afghan security forces or U.S.-led troops, listing their “crimes” and warning that a “military commission” would decide on their punishment. They would close with the mafia-style caveat that insurgents “will take no further responsibility for what happens in the future.”
But nowadays the Taliban say they have mostly ceased the practice, while those selling forged threat letters are doing a brisk business as tens of thousands of Afghans flee to Europe, hoping to claim asylum. Forgers say a convincing threat letter can go for up to $1,000.
“Of the threat letters now being presented to European authorities by Afghans, I’d say only one percent are real and 99 percent are phony,” said Mukhamil, 35, who has forged and sold 20 such letters. Like many Afghans, he has only one name.
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