Aikins, who had heard rumors of Raziq’s abuses since he wrote a 2009 article about him in Harpers, first investigates the case of two boys he refers to as Ahmed and Najib to protect their safety. Both boys told him they were arrested in Kandahar and then summarily tortured with electric shocks; they then were interrogated by Raziq, who appeared to approve of their treatment. Aikins found that the boys’ co-workers and a source within the Kandahar police department corroborated their story. “It felt like my whole body was filled with moving knives,” said one of the boys:
Najib went first. He was forced to lie on his back, and wires leading to the generator were attached to toes on both his feet. A group of Border Police crowded around him, jeering and spitting snuff on his face. “Tell us the truth,” they commanded. Then they switched on the power. “It felt,” Najib told me, “like my whole body was filled with moving knives.” After he passed out from the pain, it was Ahmad’s turn to be tortured. When the two awoke from the ordeal, they were placed in separate rooms. In the evening, they were taken to police headquarters to see Abdul Raziq himself.
Aikins goes on to note that “a number of Afghan and international officials familiar with the situation there told me that Raziq has brought with him a new level of brutality” after taking over as Kandahar’s police chief. He notes that Raziq’s men are trained by Dyncorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater) at a U.S.-funded training center and that their salaries are paid for by the “Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, a UN-administered international fund, to which the U.S. is the largest contributor.”
But the most troubling allegation is of Raziq’s involvement in a massacre along the Afghanistan in 2006. Raziq, who was then head of a militia and tasked with border security in the town of Spin Boldak, claimed that he had killed a number of Taliban fighters in a skirmish. But word soon began to leak out of a massacre, yet no official investigation was ever released of the events that took place there. Yet Aikins obtained the results of a suppressed police investigation of the incident that concluded that Raziq had ordered detainees summarily executed, and that some of the victims were children. In interviews with “a diverse set of sources, including tribal elders, human-rights workers, police officers, and government officials,” Aikins concludes that the people killed by Raziq’s forces were civilians that were part of a rival tribe — targeted as a part of tribal conflict over smuggling routes — rather than Taliban fighters. The Atlantic has published photographs of the massacre in a slide show found in Aikin’s article from the suppressed police investigation. (WARNING: the photos are very graphic).
U.S. government sources denied these allegations in interviews with Aikins. “I have never seen evidence of private prisons or of extrajudicial killings directly attributable to him,” said the State Department’s Ben Moeling. While diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that the U.S. government was skeptical of Raziq’s anti-corruption efforts, Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings pointed out on Twitter, one cable shows that the U.S. government has been working to rehabilitate Raziq’s image. A Kandahar embassy cable dated February 17, 2010 notes that the Embassy was working on assembling a team to work on “the longer-term encouragement of stories in the international media on the ‘reform’ of Razziq. … Razziq said he would welcome such a team.”