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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Afghan National Arrested for 2008 Abduction of American Journalist

The Department of Justice announced the unsealing of a federal indictment charging Haji Najibullah, a/k/a “Najibullah Naim,” a/k/a “Abu Tayeb,” a/k/a “Atiqullah”  with six counts related to the 2008 kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals.  Najibullah, 44, was arrested and transferred to the United States from Ukraine to face the charges in the indictment.    Najibullah will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.

“Najibullah is charged with taking an American journalist and others hostage in Afghanistan in November 2008.  Journalists risk their lives bringing us news from conflict zones, and no matter how much time may pass, our resolve to find and hold accountable those who target and harm them and other Americans will never wane,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “The defendant, like many others before and surely others to come, will now face justice in an American courtroom.”

“The FBI, along with our partners, continue to work tirelessly in the pursuit of justice and to hold accountable those who are responsible for the kidnapping and hostage taking of U.S. citizens abroad,” said Assistant Director Jill Sanborn of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.  “We remain steadfast in our obligation to see justice served, regardless of the how long it may take or where those individuals are located. This investigation and resulting indictment reflects the FBI’s perseverance and commitment to the victims of these heinous acts – We never forget, and we never give up.”

According to the Indictment:[1]

On or about Nov. 10, 2008, Najibullah and his co-conspirators, armed with machineguns, kidnapped an American journalist (Victim-1) and two Afghan nationals who were assisting Victim-1 (Victim-2 and Victim-3) at gunpoint in Afghanistan.  Approximately five days later, on or about Nov. 15, 2008, Najibullah and his co-conspirators forced the three hostages to hike across the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan, where Najibullah and his co-conspirators detained the hostages.  For the next seven months, Najibullah and his co-conspirators held the hostages captive in Pakistan.

During their captivity, Najibullah and his co-conspirators forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos seeking help.  For example, on or about Nov. 19, 2008, while in Pakistan, Najibullah and a co-conspirator (CC-1) directed Victim-1 to call his wife in New York.  In addition, Najibullah and his co-conspirators made the victims create at least three videos in which they begged for help while surrounded by masked guards armed with machineguns.  In one of the videos, Victim-1 — the American journalist — was forced to beg for his life while a guard pointed a machinegun at Victim-1’s face.

Najibullah, 44, of Afghanistan is charged with hostage taking, conspiracy to commit hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and two counts of using and possessing a machinegun in furtherance of crimes of violence.  Each of the six counts of the indictment carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Read more at the Justice Department

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