Zahed is a forty something years old Afghan-German who lives in Germany with his family. He’s lived there for over two decades now. About two and a half weeks ago, he came back to Afghanistan to visit his hometown in Surkhrod area of Nangarhar Province. He missed his relatives and friends and his garden. He had a beautiful garden near his Qalla or village house where he used to sleep under the shade of its trees in some peace and quiet back in the day. He took very good care of the trees and plants in his garden and he enjoyed checking on the trees in the garden almost everyday.
Second to his relatives and friends Zahed, of course missed his precious garden. He went to visit the garden and he savored every moment of it. On his third day in Surkhrod he want to take a nap under the cool shade in his garden and enjoy the afternoon breeze. He arranged his little bed in the garden solo. Lying on his bed he enjoyed looking at these now-tall trees he called it very joyful moments of his life, says his cousin Rahim. As he was dozing off the moment was interrupted by a motorcycle that parked near him. Two guys approached him and told him that the district governor wanted to see him and make sure that there are no security threats for him while he is in town. The bikers did not let him tell his family where he was off to. He rode on the motorbike with the two strangers who claimed to be secret police officers.
After riding for a few miles on the motorbike, one of the kidnappers took out a cloth and blindfoled his eyes. Zahed doesn’t remeber anything after that. When he opened his eyes he was in a dark room with an chain in his ankle. The kidnappers contacted his family here in Jalalabad and asked for $1 million ransom. After a lukewarm response from them, they contacted the victim’s family in Germany to send them $1 million for his release.
Zahed’s family in Germany said they hadn’t saved that much in their entire life Germany. After a lot of negotiations, they settled for $50000 (fifty thousand USD) for his release.
It’s not clear how they handed over the $50K to the kidnappers but they did. About a week ago the kidnappers brought him (still blindfolded) near Nazanin Jabarkhel High School in Surkhrod at around eight o’clock in the evening and let him go. “You can’t open your eyes until you can no longer hear the sound of our motorbike. We’re watching you!” Said the perpetrators to Zahed. “The last motorbike ride from a mud house where I was held for one week and the school where I was droped off that evening was five minutes ride,” he said.
He was locked in a dark pit toilet for one week where all he saw was one little child who brought him food everyday — the only person he could recognize he ever meets him again.
Zahed went back to Germany and I doubt that he’ll ever miss his garden or hometown again.