Afghan Biographies

Kandahar Jail Break – The real rumor story behind it

Subject Kandahar Jail Break – The real rumor story behind it

The Afghan Justice Minister, Habibullah Ghalib, had just announced that the widely publicized High Security Sarposa Prison break that had titillated the country and embarrassed the government was a fake. According to the minister, the 500 or so “escapees” had not tunneled their way to freedom through 1,000 feet of dirt and clay, but had instead been let out through the front gate.He said: "The house from where the tunnel was dug was checked by police two and half months ago." Digging five month? Was Ghalib's statement the coordination error of the theater director of the drama?

The much-vaunted “tunnel”, complete with ventilation, lighting, and support beams, that was shown to journalists a few days after the break-out actually only extended a few dozen meters. It was more or less a stage set. In fact, according to the Associated Press, journalists were not allowed into the tunnel, but were given just a glimpse through a shaft dug into it from above. And General Ghulam Dastgir, the governor in charge of the jail, explained why a glimpse only was possible: "The Taliban have planted bombs inside the tunnel and it is hard to investigate until the explosives are removed," he said. Dastagir was part of the show.

The big getaway, it is rumored, was actually a secret deal between the Spin Doctors in Arg and the Taliban. It was a way of agreeing to one of the insurgents’ major demands — prisoner release — without being seen to caving in to pressure from the insurgents. The release of 106 Taliban commanders (among the 470 escapees) would, presumably, sweeten the Taliban for future negotiations, without unduly annoying the Americans, who have refused to make concessions while the fighting continues.

Let’s do some maths: To dig a tunnel 370 m long in a way that men can use it walking with the upper body bend forward means to extract, move and store more than 1.800 tons of dirt and clay. We assume this amount of earth was not moved and stored on the prison compound or at the other end of the “tunnel”, nor had it been transported away with shuttle trucks or wheel barrows.

Fortunately all this is only Sar-e-Chow talk and Rumor Intelligence. It will be interesting to watch the further career of General Ghulam Dastagir and those who have been arrested. Dastagir's predecessor Gen Sayed Agha Saqib, the governor in charge of the Sarposa Jail Break on 13. June 2008 was later awarded with the job as the Provincial Police Chief of Herat.

Released 2011-05-07