April 28th, 2007 05:17 EST
12 year old Beheading Video Draws Widespread Outrage
Washington " Human rights organizations, religious leaders and government officials alike expressed outrage after a video that depicts a child beheading a man was circulated in Pakistan, and responsibility for the act claimed by the Taliban. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters April 26 it was absolutely appalling " and beyond any standard, I think, of civilized behavior anywhere in the world. "
State Department public affairs officer Gregg Sullivan strongly denounced the Afghan insurgents. Exploiting children and making them instruments of hate and death is a barbaric and abhorrent tactic, " he told USINFO. He condemned the horrific and brutal terrorist acts shown in the video footage, " adding We find it unconscionable. "
Taliban spokesman Shuhab Athul told the Associated Press that the Taliban detained, tried and executed the man, Ghulam Nabi, because he was an informer. The boy who beheaded Ghulam Nabi with a knife in the execution video appears to be about 12 years old. In the video, he calls the man a spy before cutting off his head amid shouts of God is great. " The boy displays the severed head, holding it by the hair.
Even as a stand-alone incident it`s alarming because it does indicate radicalization which is unprecedented, " Human Rights Watch Asia research director Sam Zia Zarifi told USINFO. It is not Pashtun tribal custom, where we can say there is a religious, historic or ethnic explanation for it. This is just unacceptable by any standards, " he said. Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization that promotes human rights worldwide.
Zarifi said the tape is worrisome because the activity in it is so egregious, even by their standards, " a sign that ultraextremist elements inside the Taliban have a say and are playing to an audience.
UNICEF sharply condemned the Taliban. UNICEF spokesman Patrick McCormick told USINFO, It was an abominable and cowardly act on their behalf to use a minor, whose life now is probably permanently disfigured or destroyed by that act. "
It`s very wrong for the Taliban to use a small boy to behead a man, " cleric Mullah Attullah told Reuters in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. I appeal to the Taliban to please stop this because non-Muslims will think Islam is a cruel and terrorist religion. The Taliban do not follow the laws of Islam, " he said.
The incident surfaced as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch separately issued reports on increased Taliban abuses of Afghan civilians. Human Rights Watch says that insurgency-related civilian deaths in Afghanistan have increased dramatically " since the beginning of 2006.
The Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports document war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami militias, crimes which appear to be escalating. The insurgents are increasingly committing war crimes, often by directly targeting civilians. Even when they`re aiming at military targets, insurgent attacks are often so indiscriminate that Afghan civilians end up as the main victims, " Human Rights Watch terrorism and counterterrorism director Joanne Mariner said at the release of its report in Kabul, Afghanistan April 16. Humanitarian aid workers, journalists, doctors, clerics, teachers, politicians and government employees are insurgent targets of choice, she said.
Afghan journalist and translator Ajmal Naqsbandi, abducted by the Taliban in March, was beheaded along with his driver Sayed Agha in early April. Mariner said their murders were war crimes. "
Attacks of Taliban militia on schools, particularly girl`s schools, have doubled since 2005, according to Human Rights Watch. During the period of Taliban rule, women became virtual prisoners, as the Taliban denied them access to jobs and education, claiming it was un-Islamic. In September 2006, Taliban gunmen assassinated a long-time crusader for girls` education and provincial director for women`s affairs, Safia Ama Jan. (See related article.)
Although the Taliban formerly banned opium poppy cultivation, there is mounting evidence that some insurgents have become involved in the trade. At a March meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Antonio Maria Costa, reporting on the latest opium crop survey in Afghanistan, said, The vicious circle of drugs funding terrorism and terrorism supporting drug lords is stronger than ever. "
The U.S. State Department`s recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said Afghanistan remains the largest producer of opium and trafficker of opium and heroin. (See related article.)
More information on the Human Rights Watch report is available on the organization`s Web site.
More information on the Amnesty International report is available on its Web site.
By Lea Terhune
USINFO Staff Writer