The Taliban's arrest of eight Shelter Now aid workers in Afghanistan on charges of illegally spreading Christianity was politically motivated and linked to the regime's terrorist activities. That's the view of one of the eight, Georg Taubmann, head of the German relief and development agency.
"We were human shields," Taubmann says. "I make a very strong statement. The safest place in Kabul was the prison we were in. The Taliban knew it." He says Taliban officials often visited the prison, even spending the night "because they knew they would never be attacked there."
Christianity Today interviewed Taubmann in late December about Shelter Now's work in Afghanistan.
The Taliban arrested Taubmann, Americans Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, and five other Western development workers on August 3. Sixteen Afghan Shelter Now workers were arrested along with the eight Westerners. American special forces rescued the eight Westerners in the city of Ghazni in November.
Taubmann, a former church youth-group leader, has been stung by criticism that Shelter Now, a secular agency run by Christians, operated unethically and endangered the work of other Christians in Afghanistan. International Assistance Mission, a consortium of agencies, was booted out in late August.
Curry, 30, and Mercer, 24, were arrested after showing a digital version of the Jesus film to an Afghan family. "We do not know how [the police] found out about it," says Taubmann, adding that he personally never showed the film to Afghans in Afghanistan.
The family had repeatedly asked to see the film. Two men in the family were detained for two days and then released, Mercer said in a news conference. No other family members were arrested, fueling the suspicions of Shelter Now workers ...1