English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Google locks accounts of former Afghan govt officials as Taliban step up hunt for reprisal

Google locks accounts of former Afghan govt officials as Taliban step up hunt for reprisal

Google has locked all accounts of the previous Afghan government amid news that the Taliban is hunting for people who worked for the government and wanted to go through the mails.

“In consultation with experts, we are continuously assessing the situation in Afghanistan. We are taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts, as information continues to come in,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

One former government employee has told Reuters the Taliban are seeking to acquire former officials’ emails. After capturing Kabul, the Taliban asked this employee to preserve the data held on the servers of the previous regime.

Also read:  Taliban arrests and releases former British soldier for trying to help Afghans escape

According to Reuters, approximately two dozen Afghan government departments used Google to handle official email correspondence — including the ministries of Defence, finance and industry, as well as the office of president and his advisors.  Other agencies, including the ministry of foreign affairs and the National Security advisor, Vice Presidents and others used Microsoft’s email software, the report said.

Taliban had been desperately searching for records at the ministry of defense and interior and the headquarters of Afghanistan National Defence service from the seized computers.

“It would give a real wealth of information,” said Chad Anderson, a cyber security expert told Reuters, identifying which ministries ran which email platform. “Just even having an employee list on a Google Sheet is a big problem,” he said, citing reports of reprisals against government workers.

Also read:  After US exit, Taliban declares China as its main partner in Afghanistan

Hundreds of the government employees, former workers and contractors who worked with embassies and foreign companies have been asking for help from foreign media. They requested not to publish their identity or location for their safety.

They have heard the Taliban are carrying out a door-to-door search to find them.

The hardline Islamist group has tried to assure Afghans that there would no revenge but there are widespread fears of a gap between what they say and do.

"There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear," said one of the officials of the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which provides intelligence to the UN, “ unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals."

The Taliban are aggressively expanding their network of informers and pressing mosques and hawala dealers, the informal money traders who form the backbone of the Afghan financial system, to help them track down wanted members in their list.

Last month, the Taliban seized the US military biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces. The US officials say that the Taliban does not have the expertise to process that data but expressed concerns that Pakistan would assist with this. “The Taliban don’t have the tools to use the data but Pakistan's ISI does.”