Afghanistan's top security officer has given an account of the slaying of Ambassador Adolph Dubs that conflicts sharply with the official U.S. contention that Soviet advisors participated in the operation that led to his death.
Maj. Daoud Taroun, commander of the national police, said in an interview, "There were no Russians present. This was our operation and we made the decision."
The United States has protested formally to the Soviet Union about what it said was participation by Soviet police advisers in the decision to storm the downtown hotel room where Dubs was being held by his kidnapers.
The Afghans shot their way into the room despite pleas from Americans on the scene that they wait in hope that Dubs could be saved by protracted negotiations. According to the Americans, three Soviet police advisers and the security chief from the Soviet Embassy here were working with the Afghan security forces, though the Americans do not claim to know what advice the Soviets were giving.
Taroun said the Afghan security forces agreed with the Americans that delay and negotiation were the best tactics for dealing with the terrorists, but they were left with "no choice" when the men in the room set a deadline and prepared to kill Dubs.
Taroun, an Air Force major, holds the title of "general commandant of Sarandoy." He said Sarandoy means "security of the people by themselves" and was adopted after last April's pro-Soviet coup here because "the police under the old regime did many bloody things."
As police commander, Taroun is one of the most feared and powerful men in the country. American Embassy officials spent several hours while Dubs was being held last Wednesday in a fruitless attempt to reach Taroun personally and ask him to hold off the attack on the hotel room.
Taroun rarely gives interviews. His conversation with me and another Western journalist began as an interrogation of us by Taroun, not the other way around. Such is the security consciousness of the government here that all foreigners are suspect and we were taken in for questioning as we attempted to enter an Asian embassy.
We had entered Afghanistan on tourist visas obtained at Kabul Airport, which has been standard practice here for years but apparently came as a surprise to Taroun.
He first said he would not "answer questions from tourists." But having satisfied himself with a phone call about our authenticity, he consented to be questioned. He speaks some English, but was so concerned about being understood correctly that he called the chief of the Kabul Fire Brigade away from duty to act as interpreter.
His account of Dubs' death generally followed the official version published in the newspapers, but added intriguing details, some of which cannot be reconciled with the American version.
As he talked, he fiddled with a nickel-plated revolver on his desk. He said it belonged to the security chief of the American Embassy.
He repeated the official account that the terrorists were demanding that a man named Badruddin Bahes be turned over to them. This name meant nothing to diplomats here, but Taroun identified him as a "bandit" and "vicious criminal" from Badakshan Province in the north. He said Bahes had been captured during the days of former president Mohammed Daoud, but escaped last July by feigning illness and overpowering four policemen who were taking him to a clinic.
"We did not tell the terrorists that this man was not in our hands," Taroun said. "We told them we were bringing him. We did this to prolong the negotiations."
He said he had never heard of a prominent religious personality with a similar name who some diplomats here believe was the real objective of the kidnapers' mission.
Such was the concern for Dubs' life, Taroun said, that the Afghans sent in one of their own officers to speak to Dubs in German through the door of the hotel room "and tell him what to do." The kidnapers, he said, cut off the conversation, telling the police, "We know all your tricks."
At no time, he said, was there any input from any Russians. Just as "the Afghan people made their own revolution" without help, he said, they conducted this operation entirely on their own.
Taroun said Dubs' kidnapers were terrorists linked to a bandit gang, not part of any uprising against the government. His forces, he said, "are in full control of the security of Afghanistan" -- an assertion that informed diplomats say is generally true despite periodic incidents and some smoldering guerrilla activity in the east. He added, however, that "it is impossible to predict the future."