KABUL -- Afghan forces have obtained confessions from the 10-man Taliban cell that was responsible for the November assassination of former television journalist Yama Siawash, as well as other targeted attacks.
In their initial confessions, made public on April 7, cell members admitted that key members of the Taliban assigned them to kill Siawash, who had previously worked for a local network in Kabul.
In an April 8 press conference in Kabul, Ministry of Interior Affairs spokesman Tariq Arian said Kabul police arrested the members of the cell in co-operation with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Afghan National Army (ANA) forces.
The arrests were made during special operations conducted in Laghman province; Barak-i-Barak district, Logar province; the 5th police district in Kabul; and Paghman and Bagrami districts of Kabul province, he said.
"Members of this group confessed to assassinating Yama Siawash, Kabul 5th district police chief Mohammadzai Kochai, prosecutors and judges, as well as to their involvement in several terrorist attacks," Arian said.
Responding to intelligence reports, Kabul police arrested two cell members named Naser and Ewaz, while they were planting bombs, he said.
They found nine mines in Naser's house, he added.
Cell members were assigned specific tasks, such as planning, transferring explosives and identifying targets, Arian said, with two cell members assigned to each operation.
They confessed to being members of the Taliban cell and to planning and carrying out targeted assassinations.
Cell leader confesses
In a video shared by the Ministry of Interior Affairs, cell leader Qari Abdul Saboor confesses his group was responsible for five assassinations and dozens of explosions.
"I was responsible for explosions and assassinations in Kabul city," Saboor said. "I was assigned by Qari Maaz and Qari Sibghat, who also is the Taliban commander in Zarghon Shahar, Logar province."
"We conducted 30 to 40 explosions and five assassinations in Kabul city, including killing Yama Siawash and the police chief of the 5th district and blowing up two Ford Ranger pickups," Saboor said.
"Qari Maaz transported explosives to Kabul in his car," he said.
Cell member Qari Abdul Rahman, a cleric in a mosque and teacher in a madrassa, said he had been introducing young men to the cell leader so they could take part in carrying out targeted killings and explosions.
"I introduced Mohammad Bashir, Noryalai, Awaz Khan, Hekmatullah, Mahmood and Mohammad Naser to Qari Abdul Saboor to conduct assassinations and explosions under his leadership," Rahman said.
"They used to bring bombs to a madrassa, and I used to keep them," he said. "They had brought two sticky bombs, one of which they blew up in front of Mirwais township, and another in Stanikzai Maina."
"Qari Abdul Rahman introduced me to Qari Saboor and other cell members one and a half years ago," a member of the Taliban cell, Bashir, confessed.
"I exploded four bombs under orders from Qari Saboor, one on Street 2 [in Kabul], one on an [ANA] Ford Ranger, and I targeted Khan Pacha," he said.
"Qari Saboor gave me a sticky bomb that I used to keep in my shop. He had instructed me to detonate it when I saw a military vehicle," Bashir said.
"I joined the Taliban one and half years ago. I was involved in four explosions, one of which was on a vehicle carrying a prosecutor and another on a government vehicle," Hekmatullah, another cell member, confessed.
"It has been a year since I joined the Taliban," said Mahmood, another cell member. "Qari Abdul Rahman brought two small barrels of explosives and one sticky bomb, which the four of us used in explosions."
"Qari Saboor told us one day that we were useless," said Mahmood. "So I blew up Yama Siawash's car and two military vehicles."
Journalists, civil society activists and educated Afghans play a critical role in the transformation of a society to a developed and progressive one by changing public perception, said Kabul-based political analyst Salim Paigir.
"But the Taliban and other extremist groups cannot achieve their goals in a developed society, where freedom of speech, media, civil activists, education, schools, universities and the rights of women exist," he said.
"Therefore, they eliminate journalists, civil society activists, learning institutions, female activists, judges and attorneys," Paigir added.
"The Taliban have extremist beliefs that are in contradiction with the achievements of the last 20 years," said Mohammad Asif Ahmadzai, a civil activist in Kabul.
"They see achievements such as the media, freedom of speech, civil and political rights, and developed society in general, as obstacles to their influence and military and political activities in the future," he said.
"Therefore, they try their best ... to eliminate them or at least weaken them," Ahmadzai added.