A report published by an Afghan security agency has accused Taliban commanders of abusing young boys and keeping them as sex slaves. The report goes on to say that the boys are being used in terrorist attacks coordinated by the group.
The report was issued by the National Directorate of Security, a state intelligence agency reporting directly to the President, most of whose members received training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to the NDS, Taliban commanders were kidnapping teenage boys for the purpose of forced labor and sexual gratification at militant camps throughout regional Afghanistan.
Some of the boys report being drugged, beaten and sexually humiliated in the camps. Many were also believed to be receiving training in terrorist techniques and deployed in actions such as roadside bombings. Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, has previously condemned the Taliban’s use of children in terror attacks, condemning such actions as “un-Islamic.” Karzai is believed to have authorized the release from prison of some teenagers arrested for involvement in attacks.
The report includes testimony from one 17-year old who described being sexually abused by a notorious Taliban group commander. The teenager was then deployed in the Maidan Wardak province of the country, taking part in several terrorist attacks. The boy is currently being held in custody by security forces.
The Taliban are violently opposed to homosexuality, which was a capital offense in Afghanistan when it was ruled by the group prior to the invasion of U.S. forces. The use of boys as sex slaves seems to be confirmed by other sources.
Earlier this year, one Afghan doctor spoke to Central Asia Online where he described treating five teenage boys who had escaped from captivity in a Taliban camp. All five boys had been sexually assaulted. Another hospital reported treating 27 cases of sexual violence against teenage boys, and authorities in the area were looking for a group of Taliban militants in connection with the case.
The Taliban have grown in strength since being deposed in 2002, becoming an increasingly powerful presence in both Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, carrying out devastating attacks in both countries. In Pakistan, peace negotiations are currently underway as the government attempt to restore order to areas that have fallen under the group’s command.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan is on high alert as it begins a campaign to elect a new President on April 15th. There are currently 11 candidates hoping to succeed Karzai as the leader of the troubled nation. The Taliban have already declared their intent to disrupt the poll. Two political workers have already been killed since the beginning of the campaign.
Despite this, support for the Taliban continues to grow, especially in rural regions of Afghanistan. Just last March, President Karzai accused the United States of collaborating with the Taliban to destabilize his government in an attempt to justify a continued Western presence in the nation. Meanwhile, the Taliban have attempted to soften their image a little by releasing hostages and supporting a vaccination program within regions controlled by them. Whether this image will be damaged by claims that they are using boys as sex slaves remains to be seen.
By Bernard O’Leary