Officials in the northern Afghan province of Faryab say they are trying to arrest a spiritual healer who coerced women into having sex with him. He reportedly later used secret video recordings to blackmail their families.
Naqibullah Faiq, the governor of Faryab, told Radio Free Afghanistan that authorities are looking for Mullah Rasul Landai after several videos allegedly showing him inappropriately touching women or having sex with them emerged on Facebook.
“I went to the village Jamshidi [in Faryab’s Pashtun Kot district] on Wednesday [September 12] to arrest him, but we couldn’t find him,” Faiq said. “We will soon arrest the accused and will announce it in a press conference.”
Landai is among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of amulet sellers and spiritual healers across Afghanistan whose fortunes have thrived amid poverty and illiteracy. These healers typically promise to treat diseases and psychiatric conditions and help end infertility and spiritual ailments. Many claim to rid victims, mostly women, of evil spirits. Many Afghans still believe in supernatural beings that are capable of possessing humans.
In recent years, Afghan authorities have attempted to crack down on such practices with limited success.
Lawmaker Sibgatullah Sailab, deputy head of Faryab’s provincial council, says the videos allegedly showing the abuse are four years old.
He told Afghanistan’s Pajhwak news wire that Landai had recently returned to Faryab after fleeing to Turkey for a few months earlier this year after the videos first emerged.
Mawlawi Ghulam Nabi Ghafoori, deputy head of Faryab’s clerical association, claimed that Landai regularly blackmailed the families of his victims.
“An official told me that Landai had deposited [the equivalent of] 1.5 million Afghanis ($20,000) in a Turkish bank,” he told Pajhwak. “This is the money he has pocketed from the families of his victims.”
In Faryab’s Pashtun Kot district, police commander Mohammad Azeem says he is searching for the healer. He acknowledged that Landai had fought against the Taliban because his father was also a commander in the regional police.
“I tried to arrest him yesterday, but he ran away after leaving his weapons at a police post,” he told Pajhwak. “We are chasing him and will arrest him soon.”