US ‘vigilantes’ met Karzai’s brother
* Idema’s lawyer claims Americans accused of torturing Afghans were warmly greeted by Kabul government officials
KABUL: Lawyers for two of three Americans on trial for kidnapping and torturing Afghans in a vigilante counter-terror operation said on Wednesday they had videos showing the trio met Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother.
John Edwards Tiffany, lawyer for ringleader Jonathan Idema, said the videotapes, which had been among material temporarily confiscated by the FBI, showed “the three Americans being warmly greeted at the Kabul Airport by Afghan officials upon their arrival.” “The officials include Haji Timor, the director of the Kabul Airport; General Babajan who is the commander of the Kabul and Afghan National Police, and President Karzai’s brother,” Tiffany told a press conference in Kabul.
He distributed the videotapes to several media representatives, but did not state whether they would be played in court.
Idema, Brent Bennett and Edward Caraballo are on trial on charges of illegally kidnapping, jailing and torturing Afghans as well as entering Afghanistan without permission or proper documentation. Tiffany, who only arrived in Kabul late August, said the latter charge was disproved by other videotapes — already played in court — showing the three meeting high-level Afghan officials.
Babajan subsequently arrested the three Americans and had been present in court on several occasions but had not come forward to acknowledge greeting the three on their arrival in Afghanistan, the lawyer added. Idema claims the group was working with the full knowledge of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to hunt down terrorist suspects.
He says it foiled plots to assassinate senior government leaders and US troops. Tiffany said the group had detained a suspect named Ghulamsaki, who had confessed to a plot to assassinate top Afghan government officials.
He said Ghulamsaki’s brother-in-law Daoud was Osama Bin Laden’s security chief. The American trio were arrested in July for allegedly running a private prison and counter-terrorism operation in Kabul. They could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty. The trial, which began July 21 and had two hearings in August, will resume on Sunday.
It was meant to resume August 30 but was delayed because Tiffany and fellow defence lawyer Robert Fogelnest had only just arrived in Kabul and sought 10 more days to build their case. afp