Archive for January 2011
The old man woke in the middle of the night to the sound of someone rifling through drawers in his living room. He reached for a shotgun stashed beneath his bed and crept into the hallway.
The robber, who was after his gold, heard him coming. He shot the old man twice in the chest at point blank range, killing him instantly, and fled into the night.
Alerted by the screams of the women in the house, a Taliban foot soldier mobilised patrols of the area. Two hours later, Taliban fighters caught Mohammad Basir, 32, as he tried to steal a motorbike to escape. They dragged him back to the dead man’s house, where he confessed to the murder.
Hauled before Bayatullah Qasim, a Taliban judge in the Ghazni province of eastern Afghanistan, he was sentenced to hang.
A length of coarse rope was tied around Basir’s neck and he was winched into the air by a small crane mounted on the back of a Toyota pick-up truck. Only two days had passed since his crime.
“It’s this type of fast justice that makes people want to come to us if they have a problem,” said Qasim, the 41-year-old judge.
In an unprecedented interview with The Sunday Times, the judge spoke at length last week about Taliban justice, which is seen by a growing number of Afghans as more effective than a badly corrupted official system.
The punishments available to Qasim include beheading, stoning and chopping off hands. He employs two “butchers” to hack off robbers’ limbs with axes and saw off spies’ heads with knives.
“The butchers know exactly what punishment fits what crime,” he said. “All I have to do is tell them what the crime is and they know what and how much to cut off.”
Qasim made me remove the Sim card from my mobile phone for fear it might be bugged. He had every reason to be nervous: American forces arrested two Taliban judges in a nearby district earlier this month and two days before I met him, they appeared to have discovered his hideout. Read the rest of this entry »