An Afghan national and purported Taliban member, previously arrested in connection with the 2008 kidnapping of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Rohde in Afghanistan, is now facing charges of leading attacks that killed multiple U.S. soldiers.
Federal authorities allege Haji Najibullah was a Taliban commander, and that he or troops under his command launched a June 2008 attack that killed three Army service members and their Afghan interpreter. They also allege that he oversaw an Oct. 2008 attack that brought down a military helicopter.
The new charges unsealed Thursday come a year after the initial Manhattan federal indictment against Najibullah, who is in custody.
The prior indictment charged him with six counts connected to the 2008 kidnapping of an unidentified "American journalist," whom sources previously confirmed to News 4 is David Rohde, and two Afghan nationals. Rohde was with them at the time.
Rohde was abducted along with Afghan reporter Tahir Ludin and their driver outside Kabul, where he had been researching a book, on Nov. 10, 2008. He escaped, along with Ludin, after more than seven months in captivity.
While the federal indictment doesn't identify Najibullah explicitly as a Taliban member, Ludin identified his captors as such shortly after his escape. He said in June 2009 that he and Rohde, who had been threatened with death, managed to trick their Taliban guards and drop down a 20-foot wall with a rope. He recounted the escape plans in detail to The New York Times. Rohde confirmed the accuracy of Ludin's account but declined to comment further at the time.
Najibullah now faces 13 counts including murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, with a potential sentence of life in prison.