Afghan special forces soldiers who fought alongside U.S. forces and fled to Iran after last year’s chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are being recruited by Russian forces to fight in Ukraine, according to an Associated Press report. .
Three former Afghan generals told the Associated Press that Russia will provide thousands of elite Afghan special forces men with a steady salary of $1,500 a month and safe for themselves and their families so they can avoid deportation. He said he hopes to attract them to the “Foreign Legion,” which promises shelter. It is home to what many assume is a death at the hands of the Taliban.
“They don’t want to fight, but they have no choice,” said one of the generals, Abdul Raohu Al-Gandiwal, who said a dozen Iranian special forces men he texted wanted deportation. He added that he was most afraid.
“They ask me, ‘Can you give me a solution?’ What should we do? If we go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban will kill us.”
Arghandiwal said the recruitment was led by the Russian mercenary unit Wagner Group.
Another general, Hibatullah Alizai, the last Afghan army chief before Taliban rule, said the effort was also aided by a former Afghan special forces commander who lives in Russia and speaks the language. rice field.
Russian conscripts come from US soldiers who fought special forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban intend to kill them, and they could join US enemies to survive or escape wrath with former allies. Following months of warnings.
A Republican congressional report in August said Afghan special forces trained by US Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets provided intelligence on US tactics to IS groups, Iran or Russia, or fought for them. I specifically warned you about possible dangers.
“We were unable to release these individuals as promised, and now they are back in their roosts,” said Michael Mulroy, a former CIA officer who served in Afghanistan. , added that Afghan special forces are highly skilled and fierce fighters.
But Mulroy was skeptical that the Russians would be able to convince many Afghan special forces to join them.
The conscription is taking place as the Russian military is reeling from the advance of Ukrainian forces and as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his mobilization efforts.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Evgeny Prigozhin, who recently admitted to being the founder of the Wagner Group, dismissed the ongoing efforts to recruit former Afghan soldiers as “ridiculous nonsense.”
The Pentagon also did not respond to a request for comment, but a senior official suggested the recruitment was not surprising given that Wagner is looking to recruit soldiers in several other countries.
It is unclear how many Afghan commandos who fled to Iran have been courted by Russians, but one told The Associated Press in a WhatsApp chat with about 400 other commandos who were considering an offer. Said they were communicating through the service.
Many like him fear deportation and are angry that the United States has abandoned them.
“We thought they might create a special program for us, but nobody thought of us.” I just handed it over.”
The commando said his offer included Russian visas for himself, his three children and his wife, who are still in Afghanistan. was offered. He said he’s waiting to see what other groups on the WhatsApp group decide, but he thinks many will accept the deal.
A U.S. veteran who fought Afghan special forces told the Associated Press that the Taliban would go door-to-door looking for special forces still in the country, torturing and killing them and doing the same to their families. I have described nearly a dozen cases that have occurred. they are nowhere to be found.
Human Rights Watch said that despite promises of amnesty, more than 100 former Afghan soldiers, intelligence agents, and police were killed or “forced” in just three months after the Taliban took power. He said he was missing.
In its mid-October report, the United Nations documented 160 extrajudicial killings and 178 arrests of former government and military officials.
The brother of an Iranian Afghan special forces officer who accepted Russia’s offer said the Taliban threat would make it difficult to refuse. He said his brother had to hide between relatives’ homes for three months after the fall of Kabul while the Taliban searched his home.
“My brother had no choice but to accept the offer,” said Murad, a special forces brother who gave only his first name for fear the Taliban would track him down. “This was not an easy decision for him.”
Former Afghan army chief Alizai said much of Russia’s recruiting efforts were concentrated in Tehran and Mashhad, a city near the Afghan border. A third general, who spoke to his AP, including Abdul Jabar Wafa, said none of their contacts in Iran knew how many had accepted the offer.
“After two months of military training in Russia, I will go to the front,” read one text message sent to Al-Gandhiwal by a former Afghan soldier in Iran. “Many personnel have left, but they have completely lost contact with family and friends. Exact statistics are unknown.”
An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Afghan Special Forces fought the Americans during the 20-year war, but only a few hundred senior officers were airlifted when American troops withdrew from Afghanistan.
Many Afghan Special Forces personnel did not serve directly in the U.S. military and were not eligible for special U.S. visas.
“They were people who really fought to the very end. And they never spoke to the Taliban. They never negotiated,” Alizai said. “Leaving them behind is the biggest mistake.”