Tuesday 19 September 2023

Taliban detains American, 18 others from NGO for 'propagating and promoting Christianity'

 At least one American has been captured and detained by the Taliban for allegedly promoting Christianity in Afghanistan as part of a long-standing NGO that has worked in the country.

The International Assistance Mission, a Swiss nonprofit group based in Afghanistan, had its office closed by the Taliban as part of two separate raids, Townhall reported

While the NGO stated that "two Afghan nationals and one international team member" were detained and "18 people have now been transferred to Kabul," Townhall reported that an American worker plus an additional 18 others were captured.

The group's office in Lal wa Sarjangal in the province of Ghor was shut down in a raid. IAM leaders say they are "unaware of the circumstances that led to these incidents and have not been advised of the reason for the detention of our staff members."

"The well-being and security of our colleagues are paramount to us, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and secure their swift release," they said in their statement. 

Three members of the group were taken in the first raid of the office and the rest 10 days later.

Taliban officials allegedly said the detainees were taken into custody for “propagating and promoting Christianity.” 

The State Department reportedly confirmed that officials were aware of the American who was taken and reinforced its travel advisory warning: “Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe, and the risk of kidnapping or violence against U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is high,” the State Department said. “We have no further details to share at this time.”

The IAM said that it wrote to the Ministry of Economy, where it is legally registered as an international NGO.

The group said they are "also working together with the U.N. and ACBAR, the coordinating body for NGOs in Afghanistan, to deepen our understanding of the situation and to work for the quick release of our 18 colleagues."

"We stand by the principle that 'aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.' All IAM staff agree to abide by the laws of Afghanistan," the nonprofit added.

The organization was started in 1966 and is registered in Geneva, Switzerland. It works only in Afghanistan and acts as a partnership between Afghans and international Christian volunteers.

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