The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday said charges have been filed against Haji Najibullah for the 2008 gunpoint kidnapping of an American journalist for The New York Times, an Afghan journalist and a driver in Afghanistan.
Najibullah, 44, was arrested and transferred from Ukraine to the U.S. on Tuesday to face a six-count indictment, including hostage taking, conspiracy, kidnapping and two counts of using and possessing a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.
“The defendant, like many others before and surely others to come, will now face justice in an American courtroom,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
According to the charges, in November 2008, Najibullah and his co-conspirators, armed with machineguns detained three people and forced them to hike across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan and held them captive for the next seven months.
The indictment says that during their captivity, Najibullah’s group forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos begging for help while a machinegun was pointed at his face.
“Journalists risk their lives bringing us news from conflict zones, and no matter how much time may pass, our resolve to find and hold accountable those who target and harm them and other Americans will never wane,” Demers said.
The indictment does not name the journalist, but sources say that the case involved David Rohde, a former Reuters and New York Times correspondent now with the New Yorker who was kidnapped while heading with Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin to interview a Taliban leader in November 2008.
Both later managed to escape from a Taliban-controlled compound in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region by climbing over the wall more than seven months later. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, managed to escape a few weeks after them.