‘I will continue killing foreigners’: soldier who shot dead unarmed Australians treated as ‘returning hero’ by Taliban
Hekmatullah, the rogue Afghan soldier who killed three unarmed Australian diggers in Afghanistan a decade ago, is living in a luxury home in the capital Kabul, treated as a “returning hero” by the Taliban who released him from prison.
He has said he does not regret killing Australian soldiers, and has vowed he would again kill Australians, or anyone who opposes the Taliban.
“If I am released I will continue killing foreigners,” Hekmatullah told an official of the former Afghan government when his release was being negotiated.
“I will continue killing Australians and I will kill you as well because you are a puppet of foreigners,” he said.
“I am among my brothers, we will be free, Afghanistan will be free. We will kill you.”
Since returning to Afghanistan, Hekmatullah has reportedly been housed in the former diplomatic quarter of Wazir Akbar Khan. He lives in a heavily secured property in a district adjacent to the clandestine former home of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former al-Qaida leader assassinated eight days ago by a US drone strike as he stood on the balcony of his villa.
A former senior official in the democratically elected government of Afghanistan – overthrown in August 2021 – has confirmed to the Guardian Hekmatullah’s return to Afghanistan.
“He was welcomed back to Kabul as a hero … with a house, car, guards, an amnesty for his crimes, his expenses are being paid for. He is being treated as a hero.”
“The person I met is a dangerous terrorist, a dangerous man,” the source said. “He is not repentant, not regretful. He is a threat, he can cause harm to the world. He should not have been released.”
The source said Hekmatullah appeared to be “very well protected”, with close links to senior Taliban officials now in government.
“But the Taliban who hold the strongest grudges, who want to take revenge, are those who were in prison, including him, Hekmatullah. He has hatred still.”
“The Taliban is seeking revenge: they have no mercy. We will be identified soon. Our lives, and the lives of our families, are in danger.”