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In Pursuit of Evil By: Bill West
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 25, 2005


There had been some hope, at least among those of us in America, that we had seen and heard the last of third-world “warlord” thugs.  With the Balkans, Somalia, Afghanistan, Colombia and a variety of other strife-torn lands, wasn’t enough enough with these private feudal armed princlings who believed they could get away with anything within their little worlds?  If the first-world military interventions over the past decade did nothing else, at least they should have mostly eliminated these mini-tyrants who brought so much misery to so many people.

Of course, in places like Somalia, Sudan and even Afghanistan today, some of those warlords manage to continue in power.  Our British allies, however, have just brought justice to bear against one former Afghan warlord who stood accused of committing war crimes within his native country.  Faryadi Sarwar Zardad, who went to Britain in the late 1990s with a false passport and claimed asylum there (another unfortunate testament to their liberal and lax asylum laws), controlled a key road from Pakistan to Kabul through the Khyber Pass from 1992 – 1996. 

Zardad was affiliated with an Afghan “political” group called the Hizbhi-I-Islami that apparently was at odds with the Taliban, and this was the basis of Zardad’s asylum claim.  Zardad, however, had a darker past.  He commanded up to 1000 men in his private militia, and used them ruthlessly to kidnap, torture and extort loot from innocent civilians during his reign of terror in his little chunk of Afghanistan before he fled to the UK.

 

The Brits conducted a substantially difficult human rights persecution investigation against Zardad.  Their investigators and prosecutors identified witnesses and victims, including those in remote areas of Afghanistan, and prepared a viable prosecution case against him.  British prosecutors filed war crimes charges against Zardad in the UK and he was just convicted of two violations…conspiracy to torture and conspiracy to take hostages.  Zardad was sentenced on July 19 to twenty years prison on each count, to run concurrently.

 

The case reflects a major victory of good over evil.  The investigation and prosecution of Zardad proved he was a chief torture thug worthy not of asylum and freedom in a civilized country, but nothing more than a prison cell.  The Brits should be commended for aggressively pursuing this case.

 

The United States has its own mechanisms for investigating and prosecuting foreign human rights persecutors.  For almost the past two years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has pursued such cases under its Operation No Safe Haven, though some argue the project lacks the resources necessary for true effectiveness.  Last year, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform Bill that included specific amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) relating to the prosecution, denaturalization and removal of aliens and former aliens who are war criminals and human rights persecutors.  The Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations (DOJ/OSI) was given additional investigative jurisdiction over such cases, jointly with ICE, but DOJ/OSI has yet to receive any additional investigative resources to go along with this new and important responsibility. 

 

The Zardad case notes he had some 1000 men under his command.  Those are 1000 men who assisted Zardad in committing atrocities.  It would seem, as a result of this British case, there are some 1000 Afghan aliens subject to exclusion from the US as human rights persecutors under last year's revisions to the INA via the Intelligence Reform legislation...assuming at least some of those 1000 can be properly identified. 

 

Since the US, for the moment, at least in part owns Afghanistan, and certainly exerts a great deal of influence over the current Afghan government, it would seem identifying many of those 1000 for this purpose just might be a viable undertaking.  And, perhaps even more than a few of those 1000 have found their way into the US by now, since it has been more than a decade since the atrocities occurred, and like our British allies, we have a notably liberal and lax asylum process and a notably under-controlled immigration system.  Identifying as many of those Zardad underlings as possible and preventing their entry into the US, or removing them if they are already here, would be a righteous undertaking.

 

Pursuing this type of endeavor not only aggressively establishes the US commitment to justice in the arena of international human rights, there are potential positive practical aspects, as well.  Conducting such an investigation to identify those underlings would invariably lead to the development of investigative and intelligence sources in a part of the world critical to the war on terror.  This would be a case where the end clearly justifies the means.   

Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who started the first human rights persecutor apprehension project within INS in 1999.  He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and a freelance writer.


Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who ran organized crime and national security investigations. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and freelance writer.


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