Taliban fighters have been appointed to run the same prison complex that once held them on Sept. 13.
Pul-e Charkhi is under new management, and will be run by ex-convicts who once inhabited the very cell blocks they now administrate about 20 kilometers (13 miles) east of downtown Kabul.
BL understands this is a sign of new order, which began in August when the militant group seized control of the presidential palace. The U.S.-backed Afghan government and its guards have retreated. After taking control of the city, several insurgents released all detainees.
One captain, who declined to provide his name, was enroute to the facility with company for a personal visit. He was allegedly detained about a decade ago in the eastern Kunar province, taken to Pul-e-Charkhi, tied, and blindfolded.
“I feel so terrible when I remember those days,” he said according to the Associated Press. “Those days are the darkest days of my life, and now this the happiest moment for me that I am free and come here without fear.”
For the first time Taliban guards escorted a female American reporter to enter the abandoned jail complex. They peered into cells, which still contained discarded belongings from previous occupants, textiles hung from the walls, tiny rugs, and water bottles.
One fighter kept trading his sandals for nicer pairs he found in each jail cell. Others tried out improvised weight bars that former inmates used.
The structure was constructed during the Soviet administration of late 1970s with 11 cell blocks designed to hold 5,000 detainees. BL understands the complex frequently housed more than 10,000 inmates.
Taliban detainees frequently complained about being mistreated and beaten. Prison riots were common. Despite this, they maintain their organization inside prison, gaining concessions like cellphone access, and more time outside cells.
The rapid Taliban takeover concerned many Afghans and governments around the world that the militant group will impose a similar, brutal rule as it did during the previous 1990s regime.
Despite the facility being mostly vacant, one part houses about 60 persons who were arrested in the past few weeks. The guards are predominantly suspected criminals and drug addicts according to the newswire agency.