9. Massacres during the Afghan Civil War were committed by all sides
The Hazaras are an ethnic people living primarily in central Afghanistan, where they have been for centuries. A smaller community lives in Pakistan. They practice Islam, with the majority of them of the Shi’a faith, though some follow the Sunni religion. As with their fellows, the Tajiks, they speak predominantly Persian. During the Afghan Civil War both the Hazaras and the Tajiks primarily opposed the Taliban, siding with the Northern Alliance which controlled the areas of most of their tribal lands. Between 1996 and 2001, according to the United Nations, the Taliban committed 15 deliberate massacres of civilians in Afghanistan, with a special focus on the Hazaras and Tajiks. In September, 1998, Taliban forces executed an estimated 4,000 as they captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Door to door searches for Hazaras and other Shias continued for weeks, with those found summarily executed.
It was far from one-sided. During the fighting against the Northern Alliance, over three thousand Taliban fighters found themselves as prisoners of the opposing forces. In late May, 1997, over 3,000 Taliban fighters fell into the hands of their enemies, and were promptly and summarily executed. The United Nations described units of Al Qaeda also taking part in the massacres of opponents of the Taliban during the late stages of the Civil War. Al Qaeda’s 055 Brigade, serving within the Taliban army, massacred Shia populations in Afghanistan, under the command of Taliban forces. The total number of people deliberately killed has only been estimated, and the total varies widely. Before the United States entered into the war Afghanistan was a killing field of immense proportions. Nearly all of the Taliban conducted massacres could be traced directly to Mullah Omar, the self-proclaimed Commander of the Faithful.