An Afghan Army cadet says he's been hiding at home for 6 weeks, fearing the Taliban's door-to-door manhunt

·4 min read
Taliban fighters holding guns on the back of a truck
Taliban fighters escort veiled women marching at a pro-Taliban rally outside the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images
  • Former members of Afghanistan's national army are now likely Taliban targets.

  • One cadet told Insider he was hiding in his home and afraid to go outside.

  • "They are taking over houses and killing them one by one. We are now in a very dangerous situation."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A cadet with Afghanistan's army has described being in hiding for the past six weeks, never once stepping outside for fear of retribution from the Taliban.

The cadet, who asked not to be named as he fears for his life, told Insider the Taliban were hunting members of the Afghanistan National Army, which helped foreign armies fighting the militant group.

Insider has reviewed ID documents and photos of the cadet in uniforms that he said were taken in training. Due to the collapse of the Afghan military, Insider was unable to independently verify his military service.

'They can easily recognize us as cadets'

The cadet said he had been hiding in his uncle's house in Jalalabad since August 14, the day before the Taliban seized Kabul, and not left since.

The cadet said he was afraid of being identified as an Afghan Army member as he has short hair and little facial hair - the opposite of typical Taliban-fighter style: "They can easily recognize us as cadets."

A Taliban military commander with a long beard
Taliban commanders speaking to reporters in September 2021. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

He said he believes the Taliban had information about Afghan soliders' identities: "They are targeting one by one, people on the list."

"They are taking over houses and killing them one by one. We are now in a very dangerous situation."

Former army members "are at huge risk since the Taliban takeover," he said. "They are looking for [us]."

"The situation is getting worse day by day here."

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021.
Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul on August 19, 2021. Rahmat Gul/AP

The Taliban were known for brutal punishments, including hand amputation and execution. One of their founders said this week they would bring those punishments back.

Afghan Army soliders are also likely Taliban targets, with several reports saying the group has done door-to-door manhunts for them.

A confidential August 18 report sent to the United Nations from a Norwegian intelligence service, seen by Insider, warned that the Taliban were "intensifying the hunt-down of all individuals and collaborators with the former regime."

It said people linked to the military were "particularly at risk."

"There are multiple reports that the Taliban have been and are extending lists of individuals, phone numbers and family members of individuals believed to have been collaborating with allied forces."

An Afghan special forces commander also told the BBC in late August that the Taliban had already killed at least 12 special forces members in Kandahar and three soldiers in Jalalabad, saying: "The Taliban took them out of their homes and shot them."

Taliban CIA base
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed CIA base in Deh Sabz district on September 6, 2021, after the US pulled all its troops out the country. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

The cadet's brother told Insider: "He is at home, we are hiding from the outside. We are not letting him go outside, he cannot go to the city."

He said the whole family is afraid: "If they know we are hiding him here, they could punish the whole family."

He said the family has not tried to flee Afghanistan, fearing the Taliban checkpoints around the country, including around Kabul's airport, from which thousands tried to flee following the group's takeover.

"We haven't tried to leave so far, the Taliban have checkpoints everywhere," the brother said. "They are checking everybody's names. There were a lot of Taliban in front of Kabul airport."

Cadet wants to fight for Britain

The Afghan National Army was trained by NATO, the US, and other allied countries, and its soldiers fought along western troops until their withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban takeover. This made Afghan Army soldiers a Taliban target.

The cadet's brother said they were desperate for help from another nation: "To the United Nations, to any government, it doesn't matter which: Who can help us?"

The UK, for example, is considering incorporating Afghan troops into its army.

"We are hoping for the best, if the UK government can help," the cadet said. "I want to help the UK."

Matthew Loh contributed reporting.

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