An Afghan man has been arrested and charged in the November 2008 kidnapping of a New York Times journalist and two others, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Haji Najibullah is charged with six counts, according to the news release: “hostage taking, conspiracy to commit hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and two counts of using and possessing a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.” All charges carry potential life sentences.
After seven months in captivity, American journalist David Rohde and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin escaped in June 2009. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, did not escape with them.
Najibullah and his co-conspirators “forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos seeking help” from loved ones “while surrounded by masked guards armed with machine guns,” the Justice Department said.
“Nearly 12 years ago, the defendant arranged to kidnap at gunpoint an American journalist and two other men, and held them hostage for more than seven months," acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “The prosecution of Haji Najibullah shows that law enforcement will never stop in our mission to hold accountable those who commit violent crimes against American citizens.”
Details of Najibullah’s arrest were not disclosed, but the news release said he was transferred to U.S. custody from Ukraine.
Najibullah, whom The New York Times called a former Taliban commander, was expected to be arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.