PanamaTimes

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

‘They’d come to kill me’: The Afghan tax reformer hunted by the Taliban and abandoned by the Britain he served

‘They’d come to kill me’: The Afghan tax reformer hunted by the Taliban and abandoned by the Britain he served

A year after the fall of Kabul, Abdullah Sayyid is in hiding, his wife has been murdered and the Home Office appears to have lost his case file

Abdullah Sayyid often thinks about the moment the Taliban broke down his door, burst inside and shot his wife. The gunmen left, but would soon redouble their efforts to kill him because of his work for the British government.

Sayyid’s wife was murdered during the chaotic aftermath of Operation Pitting, the UK’s emergency mass airlift from Kabul that began on 13 August last year.

This Wednesday marks a lesser-known anniversary – that of Sayyid’s application to a Home Office resettlement scheme that should have given him a fresh start in the UK. He is currently hiding in the eastern desert of Iran, and his most recent contact with the UK authorities he served for years was in mid-May. Sayyid (not his real name) suspects they have lost his case file – again.

Like many, the 45-year-old was pleased that Afghanistan appeared to be on the right path. He was at the forefront of a programme funded by the Department for International Development to reform Afghanistan’s tax system, which was lauded in evidence given to the British parliament.

“I was quite high-profile, with appearances in the media. Everybody knew what I did,” Sayyid said. That high profile – the widespread knowledge of his association with the British – placed his life in peril when the Taliban seized power, and RAF transport planes began evacuating Afghan nationals – the first landing at Brize Norton soon after midnight on 14 August last year.

Eligible for the UK’s Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap), Sayyid submitted his application on 17 August and waited, nervously monitoring the daily scrums outside Kabul airport as 100 RAF flights took 15,000 people to safety.

By the time Pitting ended on 28 August, Sayyid accepted that he had to flee Kabul. He headed south to Kandahar and across to the town of Spin Boldak, from where, under cover of darkness, he walked across the border into Pakistan.

He made his way to Islamabad, checked in at a guesthouse and lay low. In mid September – with no sign of the UK government coming to his aid – his brother-in-law visited his wife at their Kabul home.

In the weeks that followed Pitting, the Taliban were assiduously compiling intelligence on those who had helped the British. Sayyid’s home was among those that were likely to be watched. “Perhaps someone reported that her brother was there and they thought it was me,” he said.

In the early hours of 17 September, his wife woke to pandemonium. A group of Taliban gunmen stormed inside. But their target was 500km away. “They wanted me: they were shouting, ‘You’re the son of British’. They had come to kill me.”

His wife was shot at close range, and taken to the nearby Ali Abad hospital, where surgeons operated to save the 29-year-old’s life. “But the internal bleeding was not stopping,” said Sayyid. Throughout the day, doctors battled to keep her alive.

“Then, during the evening, the Taliban forces came into the hospital and said: ‘She’s not allowed to be treated here – take her away.’ They just kicked her out of the hospital.”

She was taken to Sayyid’s sister, a doctor, with Sayyid kept informed of any developments, knowing that if he returned to Kabul he would be killed. Regular updates confirmed that his wife’s condition continued to deteriorate. “The bleeding was non-stop,” said Sayyid. On 20 September, she died.

Justice, even revenge, was impossible. Sayyid discovered that among those involved in his wife’s death was a senior figure in the Taliban’s intelligence services.

With still no word from the UK Home Office, he journeyed to the Pakistani city of Peshawar and found work with a medicine firm.

At the start of 2022 came more grim news. “On 1 January my caseworker told me they couldn’t find my application,” he said. Five days later, Sayyid applied to Arap again. “They told me everything’s received, everything is going well,” he said.

Several months passed, with Sayyid keeping his head down, waiting for fresh Home Office developments.

They never came. Instead he was recognised in Peshawar by a member of the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban organisation blacklisted by the US as a terrorist group and supported by Pakistan’s feared ISI intelligence agency. “He said: ‘We know you, we know that you are a very high official in the last Afghan government and are in hiding’. The Haqqani network have very high influence in Pakistan, they are very dangerous.”

Fearing he would be assassinated in the border city, Sayyid hurriedly adopted a disguise, including a “very long beard”. He fled south to Quetta in the Pakistani province of Balochistan and on to the Iranian city of Zahedan, east of the Dasht-e Lut desert. “It’s Baloch people, there’s no Haqqani network, no Taliban influence.”

Yet Sayyid fears there is nowhere in the region that will stay safe indefinitely. His last contact with the Home Office was on 17 May. “I think they have lost the application again. I have no plan now, only that I want to leave Asia for ever, not just Afghanistan, and never come back.”

The Home Office has been approached for comment.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×