Afghans hoping to sneak into Europe as refugees are purchasing fake death threat letters allegedly sent by the Taliban.
Death threats sent via handwritten letters have a long tradition in the region and have usually been delivered to those collaborating with coalition forces. Although the Taliban has largely abandoned the practice, forgers have taken over, selling the letters on Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan stationary for as much as $1,000 apiece, the Associated Press reports.
One forger, Mukhamil, told the AP that at this point only about 1% of the letters are genuine threats. Mukhamil simply borrows a Taliban logo from the Internet, pastes it on a document and claims that the buyer of the letter is working for the U.S. and will face serious punishment.
Migration under refugee status is far easier than migration under economic status. Economic migrants, at least according to Germany, must return home. The German government does not keep statistics on death threat letters, and the Afghanistan government has largely dismissed their importance.
Behind Syria, Afghans are the largest group trying for asylum in Europe. In the first six months of 2015, approximately 77,731 Afghans have applied for refugee status, a number that could easily swell.
Many of the targeted Afghans are Shia Muslims. Pakistan, still holding Afghan refugees from the 1980s and 1990s, has said that it will send refugees back to Afghanistan, unless the international community steps in and offers a solution.
If the 12,000 U.S. and NATO forces left in Afghanistan withdraw, Germany is concerned that the number of Afghan refugees will explode far beyond current levels.
Fake letters are just one of the tactics Afghans have used to increase their claims. One hair salon helps light-haired Afghans dye their hair darker, so that they can pass off as Syrians to European authorities.
The presence of fake letters is making it more difficult to distinguish from genuine threats. An activist in Afghanistan’s eastern Logan province received a death threat letter after advocating for girls to receive education.
“The letter is my best hope — my only hope — of gaining asylum,” activist Abbasi told the Agence-France Presse in Afghanistan.
But a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, denied any involvement with death threats, saying:
We don’t send threat letters, that’s not our style. Only very rarely would we use the phone, in cases where we perceive serious problems.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.