KABUL, Afghanistan - Threatening letters from the Taliban, once tantamount to a death sentence, are now being forged and sold to Afghans who want to start a new life in Europe. The handwritten notes on the stationery of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were traditionally sent to those alleged to have worked with Afghan security forces or U.S.-led troops, listing their "crimes" and warning that a "military commission" would decide on their punishment. They would close with a caveat that insurgents "will take no further responsibility for what happens."
The Taliban says it has mostly ceased the practice, while those selling forged threat letters are doing a brisk business as tens of thousands of Afghans flee to Europe, hoping to claim asylum. Forgers say a convincing threat letter can go for up to $1,000. "Of the threat letters now being presented to European authorities by Afghans, I'd say only 1 percent are real and 99 percent are phony," said Mukhamil, 35, who has forged and sold 20 such letters.