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An Afghan man already facing charges in the 2008 gunshot kidnapping of a New York Times reporter and another journalist has pleaded not guilty to new charges in connection with the killing of three US soldiers.

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Haji Najibullah appeared in a federal court in Manhattan on Friday.

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He was previously charged with crimes related to the kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals in 2008.

In addition to those allegations, Najibullah is accused of attacks on US troops by Najibullah and Taliban fighters under his command, the June 26, 2008 attack on a US military convoy that killed three US Army soldiers – Sergeant First Class. Matthew L. Hilton and Joseph A. McKay, and Sergeant Mark Palmatier – and his Afghan interpreter, as well as the October 27, 2008 attack, which resulted in the shooting down of a US military helicopter.

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The Fed claims that 45-year-old Najibullah was a Taliban commander in 2007 and 2008 and committed multiple acts of terrorism against US forces in Afghanistan.

The attacks included the shooting down of a US military helicopter using RPGs in October 2008 around Syed Abad, Afghanistan’s Wardak province. The Taliban later claimed responsibility, claiming it was “killed”. [by] Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate.”

Najibullah was arrested in October 2020 and extradited to the United States from Ukraine to face charges including hostage-taking, conspiracy and kidnapping. Prosecutors alleged that he conspired to kidnap David Rohde, who then worked for the New York Times, and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin while they were on their way to interview a Taliban leader.

The two victims made a dramatic escape from a Taliban-controlled compound in the tribal areas of Pakistan on November 10, 2008, more than seven months after the abduction. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, was the third victim of the kidnapping and fled a few weeks after Ludin and Rohde.

If convicted, he faces life in prison.