- Arrested by U.S. forces in the winter of 2010 in his home.
- Taken into custody after two AK-47s were found in his home.
- Explained the guns, common in border areas of Afghanistan, were for self-defense due to a long-standing feud between families.
- Accused of supporting the Taliban, but never shown any evidence.
- Transferred to an Afghan prison seven months later, without explanation.
- Released 25 days later, again without explanation.
“Most of the people detained, they are detained based on these personal feuds. Like 20 percent of them might be criminals, these are bad people. But 80 percent are just people arrested due to false intelligence.”
T.K., a husband, father and farmer from Khost, was arrested around 5:00 a.m. by U.S. forces at his home in February 2010. His father, who also lived in the home, was already in the Bagram prison, having been detained following an earlier raid on the home when U.S. forces found two AK-47s in the house.
T.K. says that the family kept the weapons for self-defense because the family had a longstanding feud with another family in the same tribe that had resulted in a death of a member of the other family. TK’s father now kept the weapons, which are common in the border areas of Afghanistan, to defend his home and family.
Although accused of supporting Taliban commanders, he was never shown any evidence against him. After seven months in U.S. custody, he was transferred, without explanation, to an Afghan prison. 25 days later, he was released from Afghan custody, also without a trial or any explanation.
“I was asking [the interrogator]: ‘Do you have any proof or evidence to say that I have links with these individuals?’ But he said no, we don’t have any proof. I was saying that if you want 50 or 60 tribal elders, individuals from my area, I will bring them, I will invite them to this base to give testimony that me, my father, and my cousin are innocent people, that we’re not criminals. But they were not accepting that.”
HRF: When were you arrested and what were the circumstances?
T.K.: It was about a year ago. I was at home. It was about 5 o’clock in the morning. I was taking water for praying, and brushing my teeth. There was a knock at the door.
I opened the door, and the soldiers came and tied my hands in the back and took me into another house nearby. It was me, my brother, and my nephew they took.
HRF: Did they search your house?
T.K.: Yes, they searched.
HRF: Did they find anything?
T.K.: They did not find anything in our house. But before, my father had been detained and taken to Bagram. At that time when they searched the house they found two AK-47’s in our house.
HRF: So, when was your father detained?
T.K.: He was detained 7 or 8 months before me.
HRF: And were they his weapons?
T.K.: I was living in the same house with my family, with my father. They were actually our weapons, two AK-47s.
HRF: And why did you have 2 AK-47’s?
T.K.: We have hostility and feud within our own tribe. That’s why now we are keeping weapons in our house.
HRF: What kind of hostility?
T.K.: Actually, the hostilities start from long time ago. This was a time when the Russians were in Afghanistan during the Jihad times. My uncle was living in Pakistan and once he came from Pakistan back to Khost one of the guy was saying, “your are son of British. You were outside of Afghanistan and now you came back to Afghanistan.” And my uncle got angry and called him a son of the Russians, a Soviet person. So there was this dispute between them, and my uncle shot this person and he was killed. So that was the feud.
HRF: And so it’s continued?
T.K.: Still it continues. Almost 20-25 years, 30 years.
HRF: So when the soldiers came to arrest you were they American soldiers or Afghan soldiers?
T.K.: There were Americans and there were Afghans.
HRF: How did the soldiers treat you?
T.K.: They treated us okay. I just asked for prayer, if I can pray and they said no. There was no physical beating.
HRF: What role did the Americans play and what role did the Afghans play?
T.K.: My hands were tied by the Afghan soldiers. I was taken my own house to another house which was in the near area. In that house there were Americans and I was given to the Americans.
HRF: did they ask you questions or explain why they were taking you?
T.K.: They didn’t ask many questions at that time. They just asked my name, my father’s name… and then I was taken to the American base, in Khost.
HRF: did they tell you why they were taking you there?
T.K.: No. But the next day in the morning I was interrogated for the first time. I was accused of being a commander for General [H.] —- but I rejected that, I said I’m just doing my own farming.
HRF: Can you describe the place where they held you?
T.K.: It was a small cell only for one individual. There was a light and the ceiling was covered by a kind of net and there was air conditioning. But the light was on for all hours. There was no sun.
HRF: Was it cold or hot in the cell?
T.K.: It was summertime, but it was cool. It was not very cold.
HRF: Can you describe your interrogations?
T.K.: Sometimes it was less than 3 hours, sometimes 2 hours. I think only for 3 days they didn’t do the interrogation, but then the rest of the 10 or 11 days there I was interrogated every day.
HRF: What kind of questions did they ask?
T.K.: They were mentioning the names of some local Taliban commanders, saying I knew them. People who I didn’t know at all. And I said no, I don’t know these individuals.
HRF: When you said you didn’t know, what did the interrogators say?
T.K.: Sometimes the interrogator was getting angry, shouting or screaming at me, insisting that I have connection with these individuals. And I was saying I am not a criminal. I am just farming and doing my own work.
HRF: Did the interrogator ever tell you why he thought you had connection to these individuals or why he thought you knew about them?
T.K.: I was asking him, “do you have any proof or evidence to say that I have links with these individuals?” But he said no, we don’t have any proof. I was saying that if you want 50 or 60 tribal elders, individuals from my area, I will bring them, I will invite them to this base to give testimony that me, my father, and my cousin are innocent people, that we’re not criminals. But they were not accepting that.
HRF: Was your father still in detention?
T.K.: My father is released now, but at the time when I was detained my father was in Bagram in the detention and also my uncle. He’s still detained. It’s been almost two years.
HRF: At some point were you moved from the first cell?
T.K.: I spent 14 days in one single cell. Then I was taken by helicopter on the 15th night to Bagram airbase. I was handcuffed, blindfolded, and they also put something on my ears not to hear sound.
HRF: How were you treated at Bagram?
T.K.: When I was brought first from the helicopter they took me to get a haircut, where they shaved my head. Then I was given a shower, and the soldier was standing near me while I was taking a shower. One soldier had a camera and was taking pictures while I was showering. Then I was taken to a medical doctor for tests.
HRF: Were you sick?
T.K.: No, I was okay.
HRF: Then what happened?
T.K.: I was taken to a cell where I was alone. The toilet was inside the cell. I spent 5 or 6 days in it. I was alone, but next to me was another cell and another cell so I could hear the sound and voice of other detainees.
HRF: Was there a light on in this cell?
T.K.: Yes, it was on all the time.
HRF: Did you get a mattress or a blanket for sleeping?
T.K.: There were 2 blankets, no mattress, no pillow. I put one blanket on the floor and the other on top of me.
HRF: Were you interrogated during this time?
T.K.: I was not interrogated for the first 6 days.
Later on I was taken to the big room which was called the waiting room, like a big cell where I was kept with other 11 prisoners.
HRF: Can you describe that cell?
T.K.: There were 2 bathrooms, 2 toilets inside this big cell and the light was also on 24 hours. We had 2 blankets here as well.
HRF: Were you interrogated at this time?
T.K.: 3 to 4 times in the first 12 nights I was taken to interrogation.
HRF: how long were the interrogations?
T.K.: It depends. Sometimes 1 hour, sometimes 2 hours, and sometimes 3 hours.
HRF: Were they asking you any new questions?
T.K.: They were all these old questions, but just they were saying that we have found some Pakistani ID card with your name, some documents that you are going to Pakistan.
HRF: Was that true? Did you have documents saying you were going to Pakistan?
T.K.: I actually made an ID card for Pakistan because I was planning to go to Saudi Arabia for working because the people of this province mostly go to the Gulf countries for work, so I had taken the visa and that’s why I had this ID card from Pakistan.
HRF: Can you explain why did you need an ID from Pakistan to go to Saudi Arabia?
T.K.: Because for Afghan passport, the Saudi government does not give these easily. That’s why I made Pakistani ID card to pretend that I’m Pakistani and that way I can get a visa.
HRF: What were they asking you about this ID card?
T.K.: They were telling me that you have done illegal act because you are Afghan but you have made Pakistani ID card. This is not something legal. I said, well, I did this just to get the visa, just to get to Saudi Arabia for my own financial reasons.
HRF: During any of the interrogations was anybody abusive towards you or aggressive towards you or did they threaten you?
T.K.: No, no abusive language and no physical beating.
HRF: Did anybody ever say, “If you don’t tell us what we want to know, then it will be bad for you” or were there any sort of threats involved for not giving them the information that they wanted?
T.K.: You know, they would threaten that you would remain here for 10 years or we will bring your children, your family to the same detention center. I said, “if you want to bring my family, bring them. I’m here, let them be here as well.”
HRF: Were they telling you what they wanted you to say, or just generally that they wanted the truth?
T.K.: Just the truth that they were looking for, that I should say that I am a commander for the Taliban, I know these commanders that he mentioned their names, but I was telling them that I don’t know these individuals.
HRF: And did they ever tell you if they had any evidence that you were a commander for the Taliban, or that you knew these people?
T.K.: No. I was telling them that I have been detained based on some personal feuds.
HRF: So you believe that somebody had said something bad about you?
T.K.: Yes, absolutely I believe this was done by my enemies. Most of the people detained, they are detained based on these personal feuds. Like 20 percent of them might be criminals, these are bad people. But 80 percent are just people arrested due to false intelligence.
The people in Afghanistan, especially in our province, many people have these personal feuds and they are giving wrong reports about their enemies.
HRF: Did there come a time after you had been in prison for awhile that were you brought before a judge or any sort of person in charge who said you were going to have a hearing or a trial?
T.K.: After about two months at Bagram I was told by an interrogator that after 5 days there will be your trial.
HRF: Did anybody explain to you what the trial was about or say they would represent your interest in the trial?
T.K.: I was taken by the interrogator to someone who said, “I am your representative. I am defending for you and helping you.” I met with him twice, once about 15 days before the trial and the second time was maybe 5 days before the trial.
HRF: What did you tell the representative?
T.K.: I asked him to explain the case, and I said that I’m not guilty, I am not a criminal.
HRF: What was the trial like?
T.K.: It was a big room and there were 6 other people, plus my representative. It was like a Pakistani court which we have seen on the TV.
There were two judges. And there was an American woman. She said that I have done this work and this work, I have link with General Haqqani, I am his commander. We have found a mobile phone with you, she said. We have discovered a Pakistani ID card with you. So these were the charges against me.
HRF: Did the mobile phone have some record of calls you had made?
T.K.: These were just the contacts that I had. The calls were to my cousins and my relatives. There was one Pakistani number that I had dialed and that is my cousin who lives in Pakistan. The rest were just my relatives. They were not numbers for wanted people.
HRF: Did you have a chance to speak at this trial?
T.K.: Yes, I was allowed to defend for myself.
HRF: What did you say?
T.K.: I just give explanations for what they were telling. Because for the commanders, I said I don’t know these commanders. I talked about the personal feud that we have. And about the Pakistani ID card, I said that I made the Pakistani ID card to get a Saudi visa for working in Saudi Arabia and each of these things I give them explanation. And when they were saying that you were going and visiting Pakistan, I said yes I was in Pakistan because I was taking my mother for a medical check-up like every 3 months there. She has a chest problem, and also she has problem with her knees because we do not have good doctors in Khost.
HRF: Did the personal representative ask you any questions or ask anyone any questions during the trial?
T.K.: The personal representative did not ask me any questions, but other people asked me questions. Just about if I have done this or not.
HRF: Were there any witnesses? Did anyone come to testify during this case?
T.K.: No, there were no witnesses.
HRF: Did the personal representative ever ask if you wanted to bring witnesses to the court?
T.K.: The personal representative told me that if I want to bring witnesses it is possible, but I said my father is weak, he’s old. And if I invite other people it will cost me money. But there was a telephone and I tried the telephone, but there was no answer.
Because sometimes there is network and sometimes not because we are close to the border with Pakistan.
HRF: So when did you learn the outcome of the trial?
T.K.: 26 days later. The personal representative told me, and gave me a piece of paper that said I will stay 6 months more here in Bagram. He didn’t say any reason why, he just gave me this paper and he left. He told me I will be staying at Bagram for 6 months more.
Then, I don’t know why, about one month later I was transferred to the Pul-e-Charkhi prison.
HRF: Did they tell you why they were transferring you?
T.K.: No, they didn’t tell me anything. They didn’t tell me and I was not aware where they would take me. Whether they will take me home or somewhere else. Then I saw I was brought to Pul-e-Charkhi, with 31 other individuals.
HRF: And how long were you in Pul-e-Charkhi?
T.K.: 25 days.
HRF: Did you get another hearing or another trial in Pul-e-Charkhi?
T.K.: No, I was not put on trial. Fifteen days after my arrival to Pul-e-Charkhi 16 out of 31 were released. And then 25 days later, 9 people including me were released together. I was among these 9 individuals.
HRF: Did anyone say why you were being released?
T.K.: Just there was a commander, an army commander who came and said, “Do you want to go home?” and I said of course I want to go home, I miss home very much. He said pick up your clothes and your things and you’re free.
HRF: When you left Bagram did anybody tell you how long it would be before you were free?
T.K.: No one told me. I didn’t know how much later I would be released.
HRF: When you left Bagram did any of the Americans say they were sorry or offer you any compensation?
T.K.: No, nothing was told.
HRF: Did you ask for any compensation?
T.K.: Actually I asked from the Afghan soldiers, Afghan authorities in Pul-e-Charkhi, because they took some things from my house and I have not gotten them back.
HRF: What kind of things?
T.K.: They took some jewelry like necklaces, earrings, which belong to the women.
HRF: The Afghan soldiers?
T.K.: Yes, this was taken by soldiers, even they had taken body spray. It was not clear actually whether it was taken by Afghans or Americans.
HRF: So you never got any of those things back?
T.K.: Just what was in my pockets when I was taken to Bagram.