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New leader in Marja has German criminal record: report

March 8, 2010

 By ALISSA J. RUBIN | NYT

The Afghan man chosen to lead the government of a town just seized from the Taliban has a violent criminal record in Germany. But Western officials say they are not pushing to have him ousted.
Court records and news reports in Germany show that Abdul Zahir served part of a more than four-year prison sentence for stabbing his stepson in 1998. A U.S. official confirms that he did serve time in Germany, though Zahir denies he committed any crime. Zahir’s integrity is an issue because his job is to convince residents of Marjah in Helmand province that the Afghan government can provide a better life than the Taliban. NATO spokesman Adm. Gregory Smith says it supports Helmand Gov. Gulab Mangal, who picked Zahir, and Afghan officials should determine his future. (NYT)

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