Old Emperor, Old Clothes

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Taliban authorities have been launching a widening crackdown on Afghans and foreigners across the country six months after the armed group took control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Among the detained is Nadima Noor, a dual Canadian-Afghan national who ran a humanitarian organization in the country. The 38-year-old activist was arrested last month by a Taliban intelligence unit. The charges against her are not known.

Taliban officials have refused to publicly comment on her arrest.

Noor’s detention is just the latest to hit Afghan activists, journalists, academics and foreigners: Many have been detained by authorities without any formal charges and held for days before the relevant diplomatic missions or even the Taliban’s own Ministry of Foreign Affairs was notified.

A senior Taliban intelligence official told the Post that the total number of Westerners held is currently eight. The majority of the imprisoned are British citizens but one American is also being held.

The official added that most Westerners are arrested on allegations of espionage, a lack of proper documentation and human trafficking – the latter charge is often used against those accused of helping Afghans flee the country.

The ultra-conservative group had initially said they had changed since they were ousted in 2001 but their crackdown in recent months has worried Afghans and the international community.

Many believe that the latest crackdowns indicate that the Taliban aim to dominate the comparatively liberal urban regions with the same brutal methods it used to control large areas of rural Afghanistan over the previous two decades.

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