Afghan General's Brutality May Have Backfired on US

'New York Times' reports on the legacy of Gen. Abdul Raziq
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2024 8:33 AM CDT
Afghan General's Brutality May Have Backfired on US
Afghanistan Gen. Abdul Raziq in 2016. He would be killed by the Taliban two years later.   (AP Photos/Allauddin Khan)

When the US was in Afghanistan, an Afghan general by the name of Abdul Raziq was seen as one of America's most valuable allies in the fight against the Taliban. On the upside, Raziq was young, brave, smart, and charismatic, and he kept order in crucial Kandahar, the New York Times explains. However, the newspaper's investigation into Raziq finds that the upside wasn't worth it. "His battlefield prowess was built on years of torture, extrajudicial killings and the largest-known campaign of forced disappearances during America's 20-year war in Afghanistan," write Azam Ahmed and Matthieu Aikins. Raziq's brutality was such that Afghans called him "America's monster." What's more, the Taliban was able to use Raziq's abuses as a recruiting tool, luring young men who previously had no allegiance to the group.

"Sometimes we asked Raziq about incidents of alleged human rights abuses, and when we got answers we would be like, 'Whoa, I hope we didn't implicate ourselves in a war crime just by hearing about it,'" Henry Ensher, a State Department official who worked with Raziq tells the newspaper. "We knew what we were doing, but we didn't think we had a choice." The investigation documents 368 forced disappearances under Raziq, though the story notes that is likely a "gross undercount." Much of the populace equated Raziq's "culture of lawlessness and impunity" with the US, part of the reason why the eventual collapse of the US-backed government in Afghanistan was so widely celebrated. The Taliban assassinated Raziq in 2018, but the backlash against him while he was alive "helps explain why the United States lost the war." (Read the full investigation.)

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