On September 15, National Directorate of Security (NDS), the premier security and intelligence agency of the Afghan government, released a video of notorious mafia leader Raees Khudadidad. He was arrested after a marathon military operation in Kabul that lasted for almost 36 hours.
Khudaidad was involved in many cases of kidnapping, extortion, robbery and murder across the country, and spearheaded an extensive network of criminals operating in Kabul and other provinces.
According to NDS, his operations extended beyond Afghanistan. He lived in Tajikistan, Pakistan and United Arab Emirates with different identities and was in the most wanted list of Tajikistan and Interpol.
The arrest of Khudaidad was a significant step towards cracking down on mafia networks in Afghanistan. Afghan security and intelligence personnel struggled for years to catch hold of him, as he constantly kept shuttling between one place to another.
His close aide and another notorious criminal, Habeen Istalif, who was arrested in 2013, was executed less than a month after the arrest of Khudaidad. He went to gallows along with five men accused of raping five Afghan women in Paghman.
Former president Hamid Karzai signed the execution order of Stalif, who was accused of armed robberies and kidnapping. According to reports, he had robbed millions of dollars from the World Bank office in Kabul.
Khudaidad, his mentor, is currently languishing in Pul e Charkhi prison in Kabul. His fate hangs in balance; however, People in Afghanistan have been calling for his execution.
Khodaidad, whose original name was Saidullah, studied still sixth standard in Kabul Saidul Nasiri School. He came from a small village in southern province of Khost.
A former boxer, in 1992, he opened a boxing club in Kabul to train professional boxers. But, his urge to earn illicit money dragged him towards organized crime.
He was caught twice and both on both occasions, he managed to escape from a prison in Kabul.
According to police officials, Khudaidad carried several fake passports, birth certificates, with different identities and used forged documents to travel from one country to another. He had been blacklisted by Tajik police and also by Interpol.
In recent years, his criminal network expanded beyond Afghanistan and spread to Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
In recent years, his criminal network expanded beyond Afghanistan and spread to Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates
In 2001, he was again arrested by security forces in Kabul, but yet again managed to flee. The same year, his gang arrested a German national Christina and raped her. One of the members of that gang, Hazrat, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Hazrat is currently in Pul e Charkhi prison in Kabul.
According to sources, Khudaidad and his gang were behind the kidnapping of five foreigners in Afghanistan. Upon his arrest, he pleaded guilty in all cases.
On September 15, he was arrested along with two of his associates: Nasser, a resident of Khost and brother-in-law of Khudaidad; and Ajmal, a resident of Logar.
People in Afghanistan are curious to know the fate of Khudaidad. “Since Habib Stalif has already been executed, his mentor cannot just languish in prison, he must also be sent to gallows,” says Nizamuddin, a resident of Kabul.
Mohammad Noorani, a civil rights activist, says the execution of Khudaidad will send strong message to criminals across the country. “If he remains in prison, he can escape again, like he has done on many occasions in the past, so it is important to execute him,” he says.
However, there are concerns about global outcry as many international human rights watchdog bodies have urged the Afghan government to stop executing people.
Amnesty International, after the execution of Stalif and five men accused of rape on October 8, called it an affront to justice.
The death penalty, David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, said is not justice, but only amounts to short-term revenge.
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