Fact checking: who was Khasha, comedian or police torturer in Kandahar?

For day now, news has been circulating about the killing of an “Afghan comedian”, by the Taliban, according to people like Roberto Saviano or Matteo Salvini, followed closely by the Italian press. Nazar Mohammad, known as Khasha, would have been executed by the insurgents because of the comedy of which the Taliban had been the subject, but this is not exactly the truth.

The man who is portrayed today by many Italian politicians, journalists and influencers as a martyr to freedom of expression was actually a commander of the notorious Kandahar police, force involved in torture and atrocities in which he himself allegedly took part.

The Italian writer Roberto Saviano wrote about: “This video is heartbreaking, it shows the arrest of Afghan comedian #KhashaZwan. He has his hands behind his back, he is handcuffed and loaded into a car between two Taliban, but he starts to make jokes, to mock the narcotalibans as he has always done on radio, on TV, in his shows”.

The leadership of the group that now controls Afghanistan has admitted the execution by some of its men, but at the same time has condemned the gesture because, according to what spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press: “The prisoner should have been brought before a court and tried for his crimes”. Shaheen added that the case was being investigated.

But the most interesting thing concerns the identity of Nazar Mohammad or who actually was the one who is presented as a comedian by Salvini and Saviano?

Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian right party Lega wrote on is Twitter account: 
“Afghanistan, a comedian jokes about the Taliban? For these fanatics he doesn’t deserve to live. The pictures you see are about the arrest of the comedian Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan”.

According to the influential Washington Post: “Khasha was a shadowy figure in Kandahar before his death and his relationship with the local community as a policeman is unclear. A former Afghan Army soldier who served in Kandahar reveals that Khasha was a commander of a local police unit. The police in Kandahar have been accused of committing abuses and atrocities against civilians, Taliban militants, extortion and other crimes”.

Regarding the work of the police in Kandahar, in another article the Washington Post also mentions its commander:

“The NGO Human Rights Watch also dealt with this case. Patricia Gossman, director for Asia, said that last year a UN report identified Raziq’s police force as particularly violent. The commander was held responsible for ‘torturing detainees by suffocation, crushing of the testicles and electric shocks’”.