Afghanistan’s ‘torturer in chief’ settles in California

Haji Gulalai, new American resident

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan’s most feared security official dubbed ‘torturer in chief’ now has settled in a pink two-storey house in California, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Haji Gulalai helped US troops retake Kandahar in 2001 and was later put in charge of the long-term custody of prisoners at the National Directorate of Security’s headquarters in Kabul.

The Post reported that Gulalai had “a substantial record of human rights abuses”. On two separate occasions, United Nations officials convinced the NDS to set in motion orders to fire him from the agency, yet those efforts were stymied both times by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Although US laws prohibit the country from granting asylum to those who have persecuted others, Gulalai used his real name – Kamal Achakzai – to avoid background screenings.
A secret UN memo identified Gulalai as the person “involved in conducting beatings amounting to torture, in detaining suspects illegally and arbitrarily and in deliberately and systematically evading detention monitoring”.

His new neighbours will want to meet him: fire up the BBQ for a house-warming!

The memo also added that his interrogation tactics “included beating with a stick to the point of drawing blood, sleep deprivation for as long as 13 days, protracted periods fastened with handcuffs and chains and suspension from the ceiling.” Despite his brutal track record, Gulalai was promoted by the NDS.

“Now he and a dozen of his relatives are living in California, raising questions about how he managed to get through the US immigration system,” the Post reported. According to the newspaper, the organisation he worked for, NDS, “became an extension of the CIA” and ballooned to more than 20,000 employees.