A US soldier points his gun at an Afghan civilian in Kabul Airport on 16 August, 2021. (Photo credit Wakil KOHSAR/AFP)
Days ahead of the Taliban’s victory over US-backed forces in Afghanistan, the CIA reportedly evacuated thousands of members of a shadow army responsible for the torture and murder of a countless number of civilians.
According to the report by The Intercept, as many as 7,000 paramilitary fighters belonging to these CIA-backed death squads were airlifted out of the country along with their relatives as an agency priority.
In total, the CIA evacuated more than 20,000 ‘Afghan partners’ to Qatar last August, before sending them to the US, according to intelligence officials.
These paramilitary fighters, by and large belonging to several militias known collectively as National Strike Units (NSU), have been accused of committing an untold number of war crimes during Afghanistan’s 20 year war.
Writing for The Cradle, geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar explains that plans for the creation of Langley’s shadow army were put in motion before the US invasion of Afghanistan started in 2001 and were bankrolled by the CIA and the US Special Forces Command, later renamed as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
“Ten years ago, the CIA army, dubbed Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CTPT), was already 3,000 strong, paid and weaponized by the CIA–JSOC combo. There was nothing ‘counter-insurgency’ about it: these were death squads, much like their earlier counterparts in Latin America in the 1970s,” Escobar explains.
These paramilitary fighters were properly armed, were well paid and often spoke English. They were also known to engage in covert night operations in residential areas, killing an untold number of non-combatants across the country over the years.
According to Escobar, they were even capable of calling in air strikes carried out by the US military.
Upon their takeover of Kabul, the Taliban quickly set up checkpoints across the city’s airport to prevent the members of the death squads from leaving the country.
But as the CIA prioritized their evacuation over more vulnerable collaborators, thousands of these paramilitary fighters were allowed to flee with impunity.