A 21-year-old Afghan was “skinned alive” by the Taliban, who also ripped out his eyes, in “retaliation” for the death of one of its former commanders allegedly at the hands of a distant relative of the victim, The Washington Post (WaPo) has learned from a local lawmaker.
The gruesome incident, which has been reportedly documented in a video and photograph that have been disseminated, occurred back in December in Ghor province, a remote region located in central Afghanistan, and has raised speculation on whether it is a sign of more Taliban brutality to come.
Taliban terrorists “dragged” the victim, identified as laborer Fazl Ahmad, “from his house and cut out his eyes in retaliation,” reports The Post, adding, “Ahmad was still alive and screaming when the attackers began carving the skin off his chest, leaving his heart exposed.”
Ghor province officials told WaPo that the jihadists then “threw” Ahmad’s body “off a 10-story cliff.”
“They skinned him alive,” declared Ruqiya Naeel, a local lawmaker.
The Taliban has denied carrying out the savage crime, notes The Post.
Naeel’s declaration comes nearly two months after various media outlets reported several Taliban commanders who defected to the local branch of the Islamic State had switched their loyalty back to the Taliban, claiming that they were repelled by the brutal acts committed by the Khorasan province (IS-K/ISIL-KP), namely beheadings.
“Ahmad’s death is the latest in a string of violent acts across Afghanistan over the past six months. Rattled officials say the 15-year war has taken an increasingly brutal turn,” points out The Post.
According to a recent report by the U.S. State Department, Taliban jihadists replaced their rival Islamic State as the world’s number one perpetrator of terrorist assaults last year, with 1,093 attacks.
The Taliban had earned the title of the most prolific terrorist group in the world by the end of 2015, about a year after President Barack Obama took away the U.S. military’s authority to offensively attack the jihadist group when he ended America’s combat mission at the end of 2014.
Since then, a resurgent Taliban has launched an increasingly violent insurgency resulting in a record number of casualties suffered by Afghan civilians and security forces.
On Friday, the Associated Press (AP), citing senior U.S. defense officials, reported that “after months of debate, the White House has approved plans to expand the military’s authority to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban when necessary, as the violence in Afghanistan escalates.
AP noted that that the nearly 9,000 U.S. troops who remain in Afghanistan will still not engage in direct combat.
“Public executions were common when the Taliban ruled the country in the 1990s, and tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed during the post-2001 Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan, like neighboring Pakistan, also has a long history of cultural and religious conservatism associated with violent retribution,” notes WaPo.
“But analysts say the scale of the brutality continues to evolve as the Taliban becomes more fragmented and pushes out into additional areas of Afghanistan,” it adds. “Younger Taliban commanders also now operate more independently and are increasingly inspired by other brutal acts easily viewed on the Internet, they say.”
Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, downplayed suggestions that the Taliban was intensifying its violent tactics.
Recent reports of violence “looked like the days pre-9/11,” conceded the general.
However, he warned that “the baseline is pretty high” for assumptions about whether the group is increasingly becoming more brutal.
Former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on May 21.