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New charges for Afghan accused in journalist abduction case

An Afghan has already been charged with kidnapping a New York Times reporter at gunpoint in 2008, and another journalist has been charged with the murder of three American soldiers.

In a revised indictment against Haji Najibullah, he was accused of commanding Taliban fighters in the fatal ambush of Matthew L. Hilton, Joseph A. McKay and Mark Palmatir in Afghanistan, also in 2008.

The document also claims that Najibullah helped shoot down a US military helicopter in a separate attack at the end of the year.
Najibullah’s lawyer, who is in US custody, declined to comment on the new charges Thursday.

Najibullah, 45, was flown to the United States last year to face initial charges, including hostage-taking, conspiracy and kidnapping. Prosecutors claimed he orchestrated the kidnapping of David Rohde, who was then working for the Times, and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin as they were on their way to interview the Taliban leader.

Both victims made a dramatic escape from the Taliban-controlled complex in Pakistan’s tribal areas more than seven months after their abduction on November 10, 2008. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, became the third victim of the kidnapping and fled a few weeks after Ludin and Rode.

Najibullah’s indictment is scheduled for October 15 in Manhattan federal court. If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment. (AP)



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