Afghan Thieves Lose Right Hands

The Associated Press
21 May 1999
By Amir Shah

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The right hands of four young men, all convicted thieves, were cut off Friday before a crowd of several hundred people in the Kabul Sports Stadium.

The men sat on the rain-soaked grass, their legs bound by chains and their faces covered with their turbans, while three doctors wearing surgical masks performed the amputations.

The hand of the first man, Mohammed Tahir, was shown to the spectators, and a Taliban leader, Saeed Abdul Rehman Aga, said: "This is Islamic law ... they have stolen and this is what we must do.'' Several spectators then left, saying they couldn't bear to watch more.

Tahir and Mohammed Gul were found guilty of stealing the equivalent of about $1,000. The other two men who lost their right hands, Mohammed Naseem and Bari Elah, were employees of the Taliban's interior ministry who confessed to robbing a home of carpets and household items.

The Taliban religious army, which rules about 90 percent of Afghanistan, has imposed a harsh brand of Islamic law in the area under its control. The Taliban publicly execute murderers, amputate the limbs of thieves and lash people for lesser offenses.

Before the amputations, a young taxi driver was given 100 lashes after being found guilty of adultery. The Taliban said the woman involved was in jail, but it wasn't clear what her punishment would be.

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