The former super-policeman and the secret operation: “Free more than a thousand Afghan women from the Taliban”

from Armando Di Landro

For years at Interpol all over the world, today he runs a security agency in Singapore: with three colleagues he organized a clandestine intelligence mission that allowed 1,029 girls to leave the country and the Taliban regime

C.like in a film, in a secret service operation complete with infiltrators in government groups, routes and safe houses, satellites used to control checkpoints, contacts between former colleagues inside and outside the main international police organizations. But there is no Robert Redford or Brad Pitt in a “Dinner Out” operation, nor even emerging TV series actors who reconstruct the background of a sensational attack. There is a true story, of real people, used to handling hot information for work. With a clandestine, secret plan, the former Italian policeman Angelo Bani – for years in service at Interpol all over the world and today the owner of a security agency in Singapore – together with three other intelligence experts, he led 1,029 Afghan women to leave their country after the events of over a year ago, when the Taliban regime returned. Freed students and athletes, who left for other countries in the world to study or play sports: “For the Education” as underlined by Tim Ellis, a New Zealander and former official in the service of his government, who coordinated the collection of information during the operation .

Andllis, Bani, Jake Winslow, Canadian expert in the use of satellites, and Carl Fareday, British (among his latest assignments also the safety responsibility for Ineos Uk Team at the America’s Cup). Four to compose a modern secret team that, through Ellis, was called into question in August 2021 by the NGO Ascend (ascendathletics.org), when 46 Afghan girls, mountaineers, were rejected at the Kabul airport: it was forbidden to leave the country, overwhelmed by chaos and by the regime. Thus were born the Descend Irregulars
(the name adopted by the four): “We were inspired by the British Special Operation Executive and its components, Baker Street Irregularswho developed the so-called Britannia line, for the escape from the Nazis during the Second World War “says Bani, who began his career as a policeman in via Fatebenefratelli in Milan, then in his Bergamo, then at the police headquarters in Rome, before devoting himself to Interpol in France, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Colombia and Salvador.

Today the group decides to reveal itself because they believe there are no more security risks. And because in Wellington, the Professional New Zealand Institute of Intelligence reserved for Descend Irregulars an acknowledgment. A story that until now had remained the subject of industry experts. But also a story of volunteers, who have tested their connections, their professionalism, on several levels. Fareday was the man on the field: in Islamabad, Pakistan, he identified the safe houses for the first landing of the fleeing girls. «From the beginning of our operation to the trip of the first 46 girls – recalls Bani – two months have passed. In between there was an essential preparation ». In addition to Fareday, the rest of the group operated remotely: “The data to be verified and the findings to be obtained were many – continues the former policeman -. With the satellites, Jake checked the status of the main roads and checkpoints. The use of social media and old sources, especially on my part, was extensive ». There was no lack of contacts with pro-Taliban groups, including through infiltrators in the field, for example in an Afghan military academy. Or with anti-government realities. “Even by applying those techniques in which the Italian police have made school, after the years of collaborators of justice, to understand if an interlocutor is telling the truth or if something creaks”.

The main route for travel was drawn between Kabul and Mazar-e-Sherif, to then cross the border with Pakistan. Other journeys followed the first, with different route variants. And with trucks made available by the NGO or through drivers contacted by Descend Irregulars. From the hottest areas to the mountains, even with stretches in the snow: in all 1,029 young women who left Afghanistan from August 2021 to May of this year. “An indescribable joy for us is the arrival of the first girls in Doha, by plane from Pakistan,” recalls Ellis. And the “feeling of having done something good” for Bani, the former policeman who explored the world.

November 5, 2022 (change November 5, 2022 | 23:17)

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The former super-policeman and the secret operation: “Free more than a thousand Afghan women from the Taliban”


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