Taliban Kidnapping in Afghanistan Hits Home for Ottawa Man

July 1, 2012 Updated: July 3, 2012

OTTAWA—It was around midnight on June 26 that Ottawa resident Khalid Ahmed got the dreaded phone call: Taliban forces had kidnapped his cousin in Afghanistan.

“My cousin is a soldier in the Afghan National Army, an army that is fighting to get rid of the Taliban,” says Ahmed, an Afghan living in Ottawa.

Eight days ago, Sayed Amanudin and seven other soldiers were travelling from one area of Farah to another when Taliban forces intercepted them. Four soldiers were killed in the altercation and the other four, including Amanudin, were taken prisoner.

Ahmed says the Taliban often kill those they arrest, and worries what will happen to Amanudin’s wife and three young daughters if he is killed.


Ahmed explains that for the Taliban, the easiest way to handle prisoners is to kill them if they can’t be used to extort money.


The Taliban has turned kidnapping into a lucrative business. Over the years the Islamist militant group has abducted journalists, foreign aid workers, diplomats, and wealthy Afghans and held them for ransom. In many cases, when money wasn’t forthcoming the hostages were killed.

Ahmed was told that it would require US$600,000 to secure his cousin’s release.

He says he doesn’t have the connections or the financial means to negotiate with the Taliban for the return of his cousin. Negotiation is seen as the best way to obtain release but it is very difficult as one has to know whom to talk to, and any interaction with the Taliban is risky at best.


He has contacted as many people as he can in Afghanistan to try to get some help for his cousin and find a way to negotiate with the Taliban. The last report he got was that Amanudin and the other three soldiers are still alive, but the news is not 100 percent reliable.

Ahmed explains that for the Taliban, the easiest way to handle prisoners is to kill them if they can’t be used to extort money.

A former member of the government told Ahmed “We try our best but it’s not easy to keep them alive or to get them back—you know that.”

Family Members Threatened With Kidnapping

Ahmed, who has a BA in Law from Cairo University as well as other degrees, came to Canada as a visitor a few years ago.

He still has family in Afghanistan who have received phone calls threatening them with kidnapping, he says.

Ahmed’s father was killed shortly before Ahmed was born by the communist faction ruling the country at the time. He feels that all of the problems in Afghanistan stem from the communist occupation 30 years ago.

“That is when the killing started—1.8 million people were killed by the regime during the 14 years they were in power,” he says.

He wonders if his cousin is still alive and if he is what kind of condition he is in as torture of prisoners is routine. Soldiers who fight against the Taliban are seen as enemies of the state or spies for the U.S.

As a relative, he says he feels a strong obligation to look after Amanudin’s family. In Afghanistan women aren’t allowed to work to support the family and girls aren’t allowed to attend school, and there is no social assistance.

Afghan MP Fawazia Koofi said she would try to help obtain Amanudin’s release, and has contacted his family to let them know that she is working on the case.

However, Ahmed feels that it is the government of Afghanistan that should negotiate with the Taliban, but this only seems to happen for those who have some high-level connections.


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