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U.S. War Against Afghanistan

Click here for reports of CIVILIAN DEATHS in Bush's Wars.

Click here for reports of PRISONER TORTURE AND MASSACRES in Bush's War Against Afghanistan.

Read about the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL for Afghanistan at Tokyo.

Depleted Uranium Weapons

Depleted Uranium Weapons used by the U.S. military are illegal under international law and have contaminated our own troops as well as the civilians of Afghanistan.

Dr. ASAF Durakovk of the Uranium Medical Research Center states that there is a considerable presence of uranium isotopes in the urine of civilians in Afghanistan (February 2003, Democracy Now interview). The levels of Uranium in the people studied were 100 to 400 times greater than those in the normal control groups not exposed to depleted uranium weapons residues. These particles are being found to be 100 to 1000 times more dangerous than previously believed, creating the probability of "an unforeseeable environmental catastrophe in Afghanistan." Dr. Durakovk was terminated from his position as a U.S. government physician despite many years of distinguished service due to his insistence on continuing these studies, especially studies on U.S. Gulf War veterans.

Afghans Now No. 1 in Opium after American Intervention

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 4, 2003-- Afghanistan was the world's largest source of illicit opium in 2002, according to a United Nations report released on Monday, which estimates that opium revenues amounted to $1.2 billion in that country while the average daily wage was only $2 per day.

December 22, 2002

Details of US Victory are a Little Premature

By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor

On the frigid night of Dec. 24, 1979, Soviet airborne forces seized Kabul airport. Elite Alpha Group commandos sped to the presidential palace, burst into the bedroom of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin and gunned him down. Columns of Soviet armour crossed the border and raced south toward Kabul.

It took Soviet forces only a few days to occupy Afghanistan. They installed a puppet ruler, Babrak Karmal. Moscow proclaimed it had invaded Afghanistan to "liberate" it from "feudalism and Islamic extremism" and "nests of terrorists and bandits."

Soviet propaganda churned out films of Red Army soldiers playing with children, building schools, dispensing medical care. Afghan women were to be liberated from the veil and other backward Islamic customs. The Soviet Union and its local communist allies would bring Afghanistan into the 20th century.

Two years later, Afghans had risen against their Soviet "liberators" and were waging a low-intensity guerrilla war. Unable to control the countryside, Moscow poured more troops into Afghanistan. The Soviet-run Afghan Army had poor morale and less fighting zeal. The KGB-run Afghan secret police, KhAD, jailed and savagely tortured tens of thousands of "Islamic terrorists," then called "freedom fighters" in the West.

Fast forward to December, 2002, and a disturbing sense of deja vu. A new foreign army has easily occupied Afghanistan, overthrown the "feudal" Taliban government and installed a puppet regime in Kabul. Western media churn out the same rosy, agitprop stories the Soviets did about liberating Afghanistan, freeing women, educating children. The only real difference is that kids in today's TV clips are waving American instead of Soviet flags. The invaders have changed; the propaganda remains the same.

America's invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001, was billed as an epic military victory and the model of future imperial expeditions to pacify Third World malefactors. Since then, news about this war-ravaged land has grown scarce. America's limited attention has turned elsewhere.

Afghanistan in Chaos

In fact, America's Afghan adventure has gotten off to as poor a start as that of the Soviet Union. The U.S.-installed ruler of Kabul, veteran CIA asset Hamid Karzai, must be protected from his own people by up to 200 U.S. bodyguards. Much of Afghanistan is in chaos, fought over by feuding warlords and drug barons.

There are almost daily attacks on U.S. occupation forces. My old mujahedin sources say U.S. casualties and equipment losses in Afghanistan are far higher than Washington is reporting - and are rising.

American troops are operating from the old Soviet bases at Bagram and Shindand, retaliating, like the Soviets, against mujahedin attacks on U.S. forces by heavily bombing nearby villages. The CIA is trying to assassinate Afghan nationalist leaders opposed to the Karzai regime in Kabul, in particular my old acquaintance Gulbadin Hekmatyar.

North of the Hindu Kush mountains, America's Afghan ally, the Tajik-Uzbek Northern Alliance, has long been a proxy of the Russians. The chief of the Russian general staff and head of intelligence directed the Alliance in its final attack on the Taliban last fall. Russia then supplied Alliance forces with $100 million in arms, and is providing $85 million worth of helicopters, tanks, artillery and spare parts, as well as military advisors and technicians. Russia now dominates much of northern Afghanistan.

The Taliban, according to the United Nations drug agency, had almost shut down opium-morphine-heroin production. America's ally, the Northern Alliance, has revived the illicit trade. Since the U.S. overthrew the Taliban, opium cultivation has soared from 185 tons a year to 2,700. The Northern Alliance, which dominates the Kabul regime, finances its arms-buying and field operations with drug money. President George Bush's war on drugs collided with his war on terrorism - and lost. The U.S. is now, in effect, colluding in the heroin trade.

Anti-American Afghan forces - the Taliban, al-Qaida, and others - have regrouped and are mounting ever larger attacks on U.S. troops and, reports the UN, even reopening training camps. Taliban mujahedin are using the same sophisticated early alert system they developed to monitor Soviet forces in the 1980s to warn of American search-and-destroy missions before they leave base. As a result, U.S. troops keep chasing shadows. Canadians fared no better.

In the sole major battle since the Taliban's overthrow, Operation Anaconda, U.S. forces were bested by veteran Afghan mujahedin, losing two helicopters.

The ongoing cost of Afghan operations is a closely guarded secret. Earlier this year, the cost of stationing 8,000 American troops, backed by warplanes and naval units, was estimated at $5 billion US monthly!

The CIA spends millions every month to bribe Pushtun warlords.

Costs will rise as the U.S. expands bases in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan - all placed along the planned U.S.-owned pipeline that will bring Central Asian oil south through Afghanistan.

The UN reports the Taliban and al-Qaida on the offensive, Afghan women remain veiled and the country is in a dangerous mess. Declaring victory in Afghanistan may have been premature.

Americans "Duped" into Attack on Convoy

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul
24 December 2001

A tale of tribal treachery, Arab mercenaries and how the Americans may have been used to settle an Afghan blood feud emerged yesterday behind the bombing of a convoy that left up to 60 people dead and 40 injured.

The killings threatened to cast a shadow over the new interim government of Hamid Karzai, who took office on Saturday. The casualties were said to be on their way to Kabul from the eastern province of Paktia for the inauguration when they were attacked by US Air Force AC-130 gunships and Navy jets.

The news of the strikes had a major impact on delegates gathered in the capital. The Pentagon, however, insisted that the vehicles the warplanes had raided were al-Qa'ida ones. The commander of the Afghan War, General Tommy Franks, said that his forces were acting on intelligence and had retaliated after coming under fire from two surface-to-air missiles.

But it has now been claimed that "intelligence" had been supplied to the Americans by a Paktia warlord, Pacha Khan, who had a score to settle with members of the nomadic Kochi clan – who have a reputation for lawlessness – travelling in the convoy. Local villagers said he had deliberately misinformed the Americans that the vehicles contained al-Qa'ida fighters and engineered the air attack.

Mr Khan is a powerful man whose brother is a minister in Mr Karzai's new cabinet. He is also said to be close to the American commanders.

According to the locals, his men blocked the convoy from the main road between the towns of Khost and Gardez, forcing it to get on to a remote mountain pass, thus making it appear it was attempting to avoid detection.

All 24 vehicles were hit and most of them destroyed as the warplanes struck just after 6pm on Thursday and carried out repeated sorties. Among the killed and injured, it was reported, were two mujahedin commanders, Mohammed Ibrahim, whose brother Jalaluddin Haqqani was a minister in the Taliban government, and Haji Nayim Kochi, a clan elder.

The twisted and burnt wreckage of the cars and buses lay mangled near the town of Soto Kondou, 50 miles east of Khost, yesterday. The villagers of Asmani Kilai, where most of the people in the convoy came from, spoke of how Pacha Khan had allegedly got the Americans to do their dirty work, naming him as the malicious informer.

One villager, Agha Mohammed, said: "There were no terrorists here. They have destroyed an entire village, we have nothing left.''

Another, Khodai Noor, said: "The people who got hit were going to congratulate Karzai on the transfer of power. There are no members of al-Qa'ida or supporters of Osama bin Laden here."

One of those hit was Haji Yaqub Khan Tanaiwal, 65, who suffered multiple fractures to his right leg and injuries to his arms. Speaking at a hospital near Peshawar, across the Pakistani border, he said: "Those who reported on the convoy must have a grudge against some people in it. The Americans know who gave them the report. They should not rely on people like that.

"We were first told that the road was closed and then armed men made us get off the road. There was not a single shot fired from the convoys. But the planes attacked. There were about six people in each car, and every car was hit. Those who survived the first attack ran for cover, under trees. Others were trapped inside their cars. There were no Talibans in the convoy. We all support the new government and the US because they supported us in the jihad against the Russians. I fought in that war.''

General Shahnawaz Tanai, from the same area, fought against Mr Tanaiwal in that war. The general, who was chief-of-staff to President Najibullah, who was later murdered by the Taliban, said: "I know Haji Yaqub. He is no Taliban."

But Pacha Khan's brother denied that anyone from his family had informed on the convoy and said the dead were all Osama bin Laden's Arab fighters, who had set up base in Paktia and the provinces of Paktia, Helmand and Khost.

Amanullah Zadran, the new minister for borders, who had just attended his first cabinet meeting, said in Kabul: "We do have contacts with Americans and we have told them about al-Qa'ida. I do know the Americans have a photo of a Stinger missile being fired at them. There are around 350 Arabs who are in this area: they are mercenaries who are paid by the UAE [United Arab Emirates]. They were trying to escape to Pakistan when they were attacked. I have seen pictures of four of the dead, they are Arabs.

"We did not tell the Americans about the convoy. Their planes found it," he said.

* The former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who became one of the best-known faces of the war in Afghanistan, said yesterday he had applied for political asylum in Pakistan.

The Belly to Do What Needs to Be Done

By Tamim Ansary

I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

Diario de Hoy, El Salvador, September 14, 2001 www.elsalvador.com

Bin Laden, A Creature of the CIA:

Once they were allied. Now documents and witnesses reveal some of the bonds that united them.

Osama bin Laden is "a creature" of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, according to an analyst, who knows the complexity of the case. Nicaraguan political analyst and sociologist Oscar René Vargas, is convinced that Bin Laden was trained by the CIA to face the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later supported the CIA in financing of the "Nicaraguan Contras", who fought in the Eighties against the Sandinista regime (1979-1990). In an interview published by the Nicaraguan newspaper " El Nuevo Diario ," Vargas explained that the CIA sent Bin Laden to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban guerrillas against the "Evil Empire" (the ex- Soviet Union), without suspecting that in time they would have differences, and that Bin Laden would punish them by bombing American embassies.

Also, a recent American investigation, presented to the Congress of this country in recent hours, suggests it is " highly probable" that Bin Laden and his followers have acquired some of the Stinger antiaircraft missiles, that can be shot with a portable launcher, that the United States provided to the Islamic combatants who fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the decade of 1980. The document, drafted by terrorism expert Kenneth Katzman, of the Congressional Research Service of the Library of the Congress of the United States, establishes that Bin Laden and his followers represent "an increasingly important threat to the American interests in the Middle East and in the rest of the world."

In such an explosive moment, it would be very difficult them American forces to find to Bin Laden, if retaliation is attemped. For the most wanted [Bin Laden] it is easy to hide in Afghanistan, a remote and mountainous country, torn by war. An intelligence source in Pakistan -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity-- told The Associated Press that heard that Bin Laden had left the place he had been in Afghanistan, just minutes after the attacks in the United States.

Historical Points:

Now that indications point to Islamic terrorists as responsible for the attacks, a question arises: Why are they so determined to attack the United States.

American Troops in Saudi Arabia. The American troops arrived there by invitation of King Fahd to protect his kingdom, rich in oil but weak militarily, after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. For Osama bin Laden, the presence of the United States in a country that holds the most sacred sanctuaries of the Islam has been perhaps the most powerful reason for its anti-American attacks. The sanctions and aerial attacks supported by the U.S.A. against Iraq. Many Muslim states also see Saddam as a threat for the stability of the region, but considers the campaign of sanctions too severe.

The military and political support from the United States to Israel. Whereas the military actions of the United States in the Gulf are a burning subject for a relatively small number of Islamic extremists, the solid North American support to Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians is condemned by most of the Muslim world.

The confrontation of the United States with the Taliban. The interpretations of the Islamic law by the Taliban in Afghanistan, criticized by many students of the Islam, and their decision to lodge to Bin Laden, places to them in a collision course with the United States.

US Human Rights Violations in the War Against Afghanistan

"We are not innocent of making war against civilian populations. The modern doctrine of such warfare was set forth and enacted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who held that a civilian population could be declared guilty and rightly subjected to military punishment. We have never repudiated that doctrine." Wendell Berry

War, by its very nature, victimizes innocent civilians. It kills, maims, murders, cripples, orphans, widows, and destroys innocent people and their property. This has always been the case and is a well known fact. Despite their assurances that they are trying real hard to avoid civilian casualties, which they refer to as "collateral damage" as "murder" doesn't sound very good, the military know that they will kill innocent people, perhaps hundreds of thousands of them before they finish yet another needless war. For example, World War II ended with the nuclear bombing of two cities crowded with innocent civilians.

To this day, U.S. military personnel justify the mass murders and insinuate that they are willing to do it again. The Vietnam war involved the deaths of 2 million Vietnamese, mostly civilians (3% of the casualties were American). Some American Vietnam vets, to this day, lament that they could not have killed more people there.

The Korean war killed 3 million Asians, mostly civilians. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been tortured, brutalized and killed in Central America under the U.S. backed and trained guerilla armies and death squads during the Reagan/Bush administrations. 100,000 were killed in El Salvador alone between 1980 and 1992 as the U.S. funneled a million dollars a day to finance El Salvador's war of terror against its own people. The U.S. bombed a civilian neighborhood during its illegal invasion of Panama. The UN estimates that a million people, mostly civilians, have died as a direct result of U.S. imposed sanctions against Iraq between 1991 and 1997 alone, following the Gulf War, which itself is estimated to have killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqis, many of them civilians. The use of war to pursue justice for a crime against civilians, such as the Trade Tower bombings, is an immoral and senseless crime in itself.

Perhaps the military mentality is best summed up by a quote from a military person, recently sent to us by email: "As a former paratrooper and combat veteran, I can assure you that the United States has not, since WW2, targeted civilians. If there are unfortunate civilian deaths, those are the fortunes of war. I am confident that we will prevail. If our enemy cowardly hides behind civilians, kill them all, God will know His own."

In Bush's war against Afghanistan, the US began a series of murderous human rights violations almost immediately. We will keep a record of them on this page. Please email us with any additional ones which we have not been made aware of! Undoubtedly, this is only the tip of a tragic iceberg!

Dates are when the reports were broadcast over American media:

October 7th: Bombings start

Mid October: U.S. Bombs residential neighborhood in Kabul

Mid October: U.S. bombs Red Cross Buildings (in Kabul?)

October 21: U.S. bombs and kills ten year old son of Taliban leader

Bomb is also dropped through roof of boy's school, doesn't explode.

October 22: U.S. allegedly bombs hospital, killing 100

October 22: Taliban announce that over 1,000 civilians have now been killed by the US.

October 23 (Washington Post): US accidentally drops 1,000 pound bomb on senior citizens home in Herat. Estimated killed: 100.

U.S. also drops two 500 pound bombs on residential area over northwest Kabul.

October 25 (NPR): U.S. accidentally bombs civilian bus

October 27 (NJ Star Ledger): U.S. accidentally bombs UN building in Kabul killing United Nations bomb sniffing dogs used to remove land mines.

Saturday October 27, 2001, The Guardian:

Civilians wounded in allied bombing raids are fleeing into Pakistan for treatment because the medical system in southern Afghanistan has effectively collapsed, refugees said yesterday. Hospitals in the city of Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual home, are operating at a fraction of capacity despite spiraling numbers of injured because there are no longer enough trained doctors, nurses or drugs.

Parents with mutilated children have been turned away and told to hire smugglers to take them across the border to Quetta, a Pakistani frontier city at least six hours away by car. Refugees interviewed in Quetta's civil hospital yesterday said they were the lucky ones. Those too wounded or poor to make the journey have been left to die in their homes in Kandahar. "It is unbelievable, there were no surgeons available when we visited hospitals last week. They were too afraid to work and those doctors who were there did not seem trained. They did not have enough equipment," said Abdul Halim, 30, a wheat farmer.

Some doctors had opened private clinics in their own homes and charged extortionate fees for operations, he claimed. "Those who cannot pay just go home to die." Groaning beside Mr Halim on a bed was his friend Ziaul Haq, 18, whose right foot was crushed in a bombing raid last week while scrounging for work in Kabul's Pagwanagsaj bazaar. The flesh and muscles were shredded, leaving just bone, but his family had enough money for his trip to Quetta via Kandahar. Mr Haq would not speak.

In another bed at ward B Abdul Wasaj, 10, lay absolutely still, trying not to shift his skinny frame lest it inflame the broken hip that encased his left leg in plaster. He had been playing football in front of his Kandahar home at 10am nine days ago when a bomb blast threw him several feet in the air, he said. "I heard a boom and then I went unconscious." The blast created a thick dust cloud that shrouded dozens of wounded, said his father, Ghulam Gilani, 40. "It took a while to find him because he wasn't crying out like the others were and he was buried in sand. I thought he must be dead." Mr Gilani carried his son to a hospital which could do nothing and so he took his son to Quetta, without anaesthetic. "He cried all the way."

Two miles away another hospital, the Al-khidmat Al-Hajeri, was treating survivors from the Ullah family, which buried 11 relatives in the town of Tarin Kot after an air strike last weekend. Dery Gul's two daughters suffered deep cuts but her own face was swaddled in bandages, her eyes burned. The Pentagon has admitted several bombs have gone astray since the air campaign started but the patients were convinced they had been deliberately targeted.

October 28 (NPR): U.S. accidentally bombs Ghanikhil, civilian town of the Northern Alliance, killing 13 civilians including a father and his 7 children.

October 28 (NJ Star Ledger): The UN High Commission for Refugees announces that "at the end of the day this could possibly be the worst refugee crisis we have seen in the world. Far worse than Somalia and Kosovo." The World Food Program says the logistics of delivering 52,000 tons of food per month required to feed the 6 million people at risk of starving in Afghanistan are formidable. "No, we are not very optimistic, but we are racing against the clock to prevent millions of people from starving. . . There is no question that when winter comes around we have to drop food, and that has its own difficulties with the airstrikes going on. It's not a pretty picture."

Complicity of the Mass Media During Wartime

At the end of October, as a result of a lot of reports of civilian casualties by the American media, the Bush administration clamped down and suggested that such reporting should be stopped. It was then reported that CNN agreed that the reports of civilian casualties amounted to imbalanced reporting. Immediately after, the US public was warned of a "new terrorist threat." This threat was not only impending, but was to occur on the west coast. All major media groups diverted their attention from the civilian deaths in Afghanistan to the west coast, where, on November 2, 2001, all TV news stations had their cameras trained on the Golden Gate Bridge in expectation of a "terrorist attack," a ridiculous scenario when you think about it. Bombing in Afghanistan during this diversion was increased both in frequency and intensity, but reports of civilian casualties dropped to virtually nothing. This is mentioned here to illustrate the complicity of the mass media during wartime and the collusion between the major media groups and the political party in power. The impending terrorist threat was simply a diversion to break the public's attention from civilian casualties. It was hugely successful. A week later, after the ruse had been employed and succeeded, the FBI reported that there had been no credible evidence of a new terrorist threat. Although the "terrorist threat" made front page headlines, the FBI revelation didn't. Propaganda works, and it has been developed to a fine art. This is a perfect example.

October 30, 2001:



November 7, 2001:


Early November: Bush administration warns media to watch what they report. CNN chief suggests reports of civilian casualties amount to biased and imbalanced war coverage. Coverage of civilian war deaths and injuries subsequently plummets to almost nothing (see below). Most of the detailed information about civilian deaths now comes from the foreign press.

November 7th: USA Today reports that US cluster bombs killed one person and wounded others when they touched and set off an unexploded bomblet released from a cluster bomb in the Afghan village of Ishaq Suleman Zai. Two other Afghan children were injured when they touched an unexploded bomblet in the village of Qalashakr. USA Today reports that the Pentagon is also now using its biggest non-nuclear bomb, the 15,000 pound "Daisy Cutter" bomb, which contains 12,600 pounds of explosives, is roughly the size of a small car, incinerates anything within 1800 feet (roughly 1/3 mile) creating a shockwave that can be felt for miles.

November 13th: (Los Angeles Times): Shrapnel from U.S. bombing hit a convoy of 22 World Food Program trucks near Shaspuhl. The trucks were carrying 330 tons of food, enough to feed between 40,000 and 50,000 people for a month. Only 20% of the food is still usable.

Ten UNICEF trucks in a convoy carrying water pumps and tents for displaced civilians in Mazar-e-Sharif were stolen by the Northern Alliance.

November 29th, Commentary by Robert Fisk, The Independent, following prisoner executions in Afghanistan:

Over the past 50 years, we sat on our moral pedestal and lectured the Chinese and the Soviets, the Arabs and the Africans, about human rights. We pronounced on the human-rights crimes of Bosnians and Croatians and Serbs. We put many of them in the dock, just as we did the Nazis at Nuremberg. Thousands of dossiers were produced, describing – in nauseous detail – the secret courts and death squads and torture and extra judicial executions carried out by rogue states and pathological dictators. Quite right too.

Yet suddenly, after 11 September, we went mad. We bombed Afghan villages into rubble, along with their inhabitants – blaming the insane Taliban and Osama bin Laden for our slaughter – and now we have allowed our gruesome militia allies to execute their prisoners. President George Bush has signed into law a set of secret military courts to try and then liquidate anyone believed to be a "terrorist murderer" in the eyes of America's awesomely inefficient intelligence services. And make no mistake about it, we are talking here about legally sanctioned American government death squads. They have been created, of course, so that Osama bin Laden and his men should they be caught rather than killed, will have no public defence; just a pseudo trial and a firing squad.

It's quite clear what has happened. When people with yellow or black or brownish skin, with Communist or Islamic or Nationalist credentials, murder their prisoners or carpet bomb villages to kill their enemies or set up death squad courts, they must be condemned by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the "civilised" world. We are the masters of human rights, the Liberals, the great and good who can preach to the impoverished masses. But when our people are murdered – when our glittering buildings are destroyed – then we tear up every piece of human rights legislation, send off the B-52s in the direction of the impoverished masses and set out to murder our enemies.

Winston Churchill took the Bush view of his enemies. In 1945, he preferred the straightforward execution of the Nazi leadership. Yet despite the fact that Hitler's monsters were responsible for at least 50 million deaths – 10,000 times greater than the victims of 11 September – the Nazi murderers were given a trial at Nuremberg because US President Truman made a remarkable decision. "Undiscriminating executions or punishments," he said, "without definite findings of guilt fairly arrived at, would not fit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride."

No one should be surprised that Mr Bush – a small-time Texas Governor-Executioner – should fail to understand the morality of a statesman in the Whitehouse. What is so shocking is that the Blairs, Schröders, Chiracs and all the television boys should have remained so gutlessly silent in the face of the Afghan executions and East European-style legislation sanctified since 11 September.

02 December 2001 The Independent

U.S. Bomb Error Kills 70

By Richard Lloyd Parry in Jalalabad and Justin Huggler in Mazar-i-Sharif

American air raids have killed at least 70 civilians, and possibly hundreds, in a single night in the biggest bombing mistake of the war, according to pro-Western commanders in eastern Afghanistan. The US military said the bombing "just did not happen".

The civilians apparently died as the result of mis-targeting by B-52 bombers aiming at al-Qa'ida bases in the White Mountains near Jalalabad, where Osama bin Laden is reported to be hiding. At least 50 people died late on Friday night in the villages of Baluth and Akal Khal in the Mairajuddin district, 30 miles from the regional capital, while another raid early yesterday morning destroyed the village of Kama Ado.

One commander claimed only 20 people were killed in Kama Ado, but Lal Gul, a local farmer, said few villagers were left alive from a population of more than 200. Major Brad Lowell, a Marine Corps spokesman, said although American bombs did hit a target in the area, it was not civilian. He said the witnesses' account "doesn't jibe with our imagery," adding: "It just did not happen."

Stop the Bombing in the Name of Humanity

December 4, 2001 Pittsburgh Post Gazette, page A6:

"In a signed declaration addressed to the world, the elders of the [Tora Bora] region said: "Our demand to the United States government and its coalition: stop the bombing in the name of humanity."

A US missile killed eight guards sent by the Eastern Shura to watch over the local municipal office in Landa Khel. The villagers of Kama Ado, about 35 miles south of Jalalabad, said they had identified and buried 155 of their dead. Eastern Shura officials said at least 58 people had died in three other nearby villages. The officials and villagers said the death toll would climb and that the dead were Afghan civilians, not al Qaida fighters. The Pentagon has denied that any villages were struck."

The media continues to report that "it has been impossible to verify these accounts" of civilian deaths. However, the next day, on December 5th, also in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, FRONT PAGE (not page A6 where the civilian death reports were buried, the headline read:

"Afghans say 10 al-Qaida chiefs killed... At least ten senior lieutenants in Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization were killed by US airstrikes on Monday near the mountainous complex of caves and tunnels where officials believe bin laden is hiding..."

Funny how over 200 civilians can be killed and the deaths reported by both villagers and officials who had to bury them, and the Pentagon not have any evidence of these deaths at all, yet 10 al-Qaida members who died in the bombing can be easily identified by the Pentagon and these reports put on the front page. You have to turn to page A-15, though, to get the rest of the story on the 10 al-Qaida chiefs killed: "There were conflicting reports about the identity of [the al-Qaida chiefs] killed in the aerial attacks. One top military commander here said that bin Laden's closest advisor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was among those injured or dead. Other reports said that while al-Zawahiri was unharmed, his wife and three daughters were killed."

On December 3rd,

it was reported that 25 Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Bush called the bombings "horrific acts of murder." Yet, when innocent Afghan civilians are killed, injured, maimed, or their villages destroyed by the US bombs, the Bush administration denies the reports and brushes them aside as inconsequential.

December 4th, 2001, Robert Fisk:

"...– I visited a grotty, fly-blown hospital in Quetta, the Pakistani border city where Afghan victims of American bombing raids are brought for treatment. Surrounded by an army of flies in bed No 12, Mahmat – most Afghans have no family names – told me his story. There were no CNN cameras, no BBC reporters in this hospital to film the patient. Nor will there be. Mahmat had been asleep in his home in the village of Kazikarez six days ago when a bomb from an American B-52 fell on his village. He was asleep in one room, his wife with the children. His son Nourali died, as did Jaber – aged 10 – Janaan, eight, Salamo, six, Twayir, four, and Palwasha – the only girl – two.

"The plane flies so high that we cannot hear them and the mud roof fell on them," Mahmat said. His wife Rukia – whom he permitted me to see – lay in the next room (bed No 13). She did not know that her children were dead. She was 25 and looked 45. A cloth dignified her forehead. Her children – like so many Afghan innocents in this frightful War for civilisation – were victims whom Mr Bush and Mr Blair will never acknowledge. And watching Mahmat plead for money – the American bomb had blasted away his clothes and he was naked beneath the hospital blanket – I could see something terrible: he and the angry cousin beside him and the uncle and the wife's brother in the hospital attacking America for the murders that they had inflicted on their family...

One day, I suspect, Mahmat's relatives may be angry enough to take their revenge on the United States, in which case they will be terrorists, men of violence. We may even ask if their leaders could control them. They are not bin Ladens, Mahmat's family said that – "We are neither Taliban nor Arab" – but, frankly, could we blame them if they decided to strike at the United States for the bloody and terrible crime done to their family. Can the United States stop bombing villages? Can Washington persuade its special forces to protect prisoners? Can the Americans control their own...?

Read the full Robert Fisk article

December 11, 2001

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) "The bombs [in the Tora Bora region - see December 4th, where the Elders pleaded for the bombing to stop "in the name of humanity"] are knocking huge boulders off the side of the mountain, and several of them have rolled down on young children," said an Afghan villager who recently trvaeled to one of the mountain pockets where {al-Qaida] families were hiding. [The US military knows that the al-Qaida are with their families and are bombing them relentlessly anyway.]

(Pittsburgh Post Gazette): ..."several thousand displaced people in this refugee camp near Kunduz need winter clothing and medical attention to prevent many more deaths in the months ahead. More than 175 of these refugees, most of them children, have died of disease since the bombardment began, relief officials said. Their graves clutter the camp's edges. 'The situation is very bad,' said Abdul-Manan, senior field assistant for [the International Organization for Migration]. In another time, Bagh-e-Shirkat might have been beautiful. It was once a self-sufficient village on a plateau above the meandering waters of the Chanar Darya, with expansive vistas of rice patties and forested banks below. Now it is a place of misery and disease, a cold and mud-slicked maze of crimbled homes, where piles of human waste are everywhere. Many families live in holes dug in the ground and covered with logs, earth and plastic sheets. The temperature has hovered near freezing for a week, and light but steady rain has cloaked everything in an unrelenting chill. Relief officials and residents here said the combination of poor diet, foul weather and unsanitary conditions has accelerated the spread of sickness just as winter has arrived.

"...many [relief] agencies that normally operate in this region... were thoroughly looted in the last days of fighting in the nearby city of Kunduz. Relief officials said that marauding soldiers, some from Taliban units and others from the Northern Alliance, stole their trucks and stripped offices of everything from tools to medical equipment.... So far American help has not been visible, except for an aerial food drop near the airport last week. It rained meals on Northern Alliance soldiers, but not civilians, and had no effect on the camps of hungry people a few miles away."

Thursday December 20, 2001

Estimates suggest US bombs have killed at least 3,767 civilians

The Innocent Dead in a Coward's War

Seumas Milne; The Guardian

The price in blood that has already been paid for America's war against terror is only now starting to become clear. Not by Britain or the US, nor even so far by the al-Qaida and Taliban leaders held responsible for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. It has instead been paid by ordinary Afghans, who had nothing whatever to do with the atrocities, didn't elect the Taliban theocrats who ruled over them and had no say in the decision to give house room to Bin Laden and his friends.

The Pentagon has been characteristically coy about how many people it believes have died under the missiles it has showered on Afghanistan. Acutely sensitive to the impact on international support for the war, spokespeople have usually batted away reports of civilian casualties with a casual "these cannot be independently confirmed", or sometimes simply denied the deaths occurred at all. The US media have been particularly helpful. Seven weeks into the bombing campaign, the Los Angeles Times only felt able to hazard the guess that "at least dozens of civilians" had been killed.

Now, for the first time, a systematic independent study has been carried out into civilian casualties in Afghanistan by Marc Herold, a US economics professor at the University of New Hampshire. Based on corroborated reports from aid agencies, the UN, eyewitnesses, TV stations, newspapers and news agencies around the world, Herold estimates that at least 3,767 civilians were killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10. That is an average of 62 innocent deaths a day - and an even higher figure than the 3,234 now thought to have been killed in New York and Washington on September 11....

Sunday, December 23, 2001 in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

To Make Amends for Errant Bombs

by David Corn

....But the United States also ought to establish a fund that specifically makes payments to Afghan civilians whose families, bodies, homes or businesses have been shattered by errant U.S. bombs. If there are inevitable civilian losses due to the U.S. military action, shouldn't America bear those costs as the price of protecting itself from terrorism?

The Afghan civilians struck by U.S. bombs are innocent victims not unlike those Americans killed or injured on Sept. 11. Consider the case of Noor Muhammad, a 12-year-old boy who lived in a village near Tora Bora. He recalls hearing an airplane and running from his room; he does not know what happened next. But when he awoke in a Jalalabad hospital he had lost his right arm, his left hand and his sight. In another instance, according to villagers outside Kandahar, U.S. warplanes pursuing Arab fighters sprayed a wide area with shrapnel, killing and injuring dozens of civilians, including several small children. One, a 6-year-old girl, was paralyzed below the waist. Americans have generously created funds for the American survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks. Noor and others like him deserve similar generosity....

Dozens of Afghan Civilians Killed in Airstrikes

December 27th, 2001: National Public Radio:

Dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in airstrikes today when a village was intentionally bombed by the US. The villagers said there were no Al Qaida there and couldn't understand why they were targeted. Rumsfield said they suspected that Al Qaida were there. He said Osama bin Laden is responsible for the civilian deaths.

What If We Could See the Afghan Dead

as We've Seen the September 11 Victims?

by Howard Zinn
From a hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, reported in the Boston Globe by John Donnelly on December 5, 2001:

"In one bed lay Noor Mohammad, 10, who was a bundle of bandages. He lost his eyes and hands to the bomb that hit his house after Sunday dinner. Hospital director Guloja Shimwari shook his head at the boy's wounds. 'The United States must be thinking he is Osama,' Shimwari said. 'If he is not Osama, then why would they do this?'"

The report continued:

"The hospital's morgue received 17 bodies last weekend, and officials here estimate at least 89 civilians were killed in several villages. In the hospital yesterday, a bomb's damage could be chronicled in the life of one family. A bomb had killed the father, Faisal Karim. In one bed was his wife, Mustafa Jama, who had severe head injuries.... Around her, six of her children were in bandages.... One of them, Zahidullah, 8, lay in a coma."

In the New York Times , Barry Bearak, reporting December 15 from the village of Madoo, Afghanistan, tells of the destruction of fifteen houses and their occupants. "'In the night, as we slept, they dropped the bombs on us,' said Paira Gul, a young man whose eyes were aflame with bitterness. His sisters and their families had perished, he said.... The houses were small, the bombing precise. No structure escaped the thundering havoc. Fifteen houses, 15 ruins.... 'Most of the dead are children,' Tor Tul said."

Another Times reporter, C.J. Chivers, writing from the village of Charykari on December 12, reported "a terrifying and rolling barrage that the villagers believe was the payload of an American B-52.... The villagers say 30 people died.... One man, Muhibullah, 40, led the way through his yard and showed three unexploded cluster bombs he is afraid to touch. A fourth was not a dud. It landed near his porch. 'My son was sitting there...the metal went inside him.' The boy, Zumarai, 5, is in a hospital in Kunduz, with wounds to leg and abdomen. His sister, Sharpari, 10, was killed. 'The United States killed my daughter and injured my son,' Mr. Muhibullah said. 'Six of my cows were destroyed and all of my wheat and rice was burned. I am very angry. I miss my daughter.'"

From the Washington Post , October 24, from Peshawar, Pakistan, by Pamela Constable: "Sardar, a taxi driver and father of 12, said his family had spent night after night listening to the bombing in their community south of Kabul. One night during the first week, he said, a bomb aimed at a nearby radio station struck a house, killing all five members of the family living there. 'There was no sign of a home left,' he said. 'We just collected the pieces of bodies and buried them.'"

Reporter Catherine Philp of the Times of London, reporting October 25 from Quetta, Pakistan: "It was not long after 7 pm on Sunday when the bombs began to fall over the outskirts of Torai village.... Rushing outside, Mauroof saw a massive fireball. Morning brought an end to the bombing and...a neighbor arrived to tell him that some 20 villagers had been killed in the blasts, among them ten of his relatives. 'I saw the body of one of my brothers-in-law being pulled from the debris,' Mauroof said. 'The lower part of his body had been blown away. Some of the other bodies were unrecognizable. There were heads missing and arms blown off....' The roll call of the dead read like an invitation list to a family wedding: his mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, three brothers-in-law, and four of his sister's five young children, two girls and two boys, all under the age of eight."

Human Rights Watch report, October 26: "Twenty-five-year-old Samiullah...rushed home to rescue his family.... he found the bodies of his twenty-year-old wife and three of his children: Mohibullah, aged six; Harifullah, aged three; and Bibi Aysha, aged one.... Also killed were his two brothers, Nasiullah, aged eight, and Ghaziullah, aged six, as well as two of his sisters, aged fourteen and eleven."

From Reuters, October 28, Sayed Salahuddin reporting from Kabul: "A U.S. bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul Sunday, blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father.... Sobs racked the body of a middle-aged man as he cradled the head of his baby, its dust-covered body dressed only in a blue diaper, lying beside the bodies of three other children, their colorful clothes layered with debris from their shattered homes."

Washington Post Foreign Service, November 2, from Quetta, Pakistan, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran: "The thunder of the first explosions jolted Nasir Ahmed awake.... he grabbed his 14-year-old niece and scurried into a communal courtyard. From there, he said, they watched as civilians who survived the bombing run, including his niece and a woman holding her 5-year-old son, were gunned down by a slow-moving, propeller-driven aircraft circling overheard. When the gunship departed an hour later, at least 25 people in the village--all civilians--were dead, according to accounts of the incident provided today by Ahmed, two other witnesses, and several relatives of people in the village.

"The Pentagon confirmed that the village was hit...but officials said they believe the aircraft struck a legitimate military target.... Asked about civilian casualties, the official said, 'We don't know. We're not on the ground.'

"Shaida, 14.... 'Americans are not good.... They killed my mother. They killed my father. I don't understand why.'"

A Newsday report on November 24 from Kabul, by James Rupert: "In the sprawling, mud-brick slum of Qala-ye-Khatir, most men were kneeling in the mosques at morning prayer on November 6 when a quarter-ton of steel and high explosives hurtled from the sky into the home of Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver. The American bomb detonated, killing Ahmed, his five daughters, one of his wives, and a son. Next door, it demolished the home of Sahib Dad and killed two of his children....

"Ross Chamberlain, the coordinator for U.N. mine-clearing operations in much of Afghanistan.... 'There's really no such thing as a precision bombing.... We are finding more cases of errant targeting than accurate targeting, more misses than hits.'"

The New York Times , November 22, from Ghaleh Shafer, Afghanistan: "10-year-old Mohebolah Seraj went out to collect wood for his family, and thought he had happened upon a food packet. He picked it up and lost three fingers in an explosion. Doctors say he will probably lose his whole hand.... his mother, Sardar Seraj...said that she cried and told the doctors not to cut off her son's whole hand...

"The hospital where her son is being cared for is a grim place, lacking power and basic sanitation. In one room lay Muhammad Ayoub, a 20-year-old who was in the house when the cluster bomb initially landed. He lost a leg and his eyesight, and his face was severely disfigured. He moaned in agony.... Hospital officials said that a 16-year-old had been decapitated."

A New York Times report on December 3 from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, by Tim Weiner: "The commanders, who are pro-American...say that four nearby villages were struck this weekend, leaving 80 or more people dead and others wounded.... The villages are near Tora Bora, the mountain camp where Mr. bin Laden is presumed to be hiding. A Pentagon spokesman said Saturday that the bombing of civilians near Tora Bora 'never happened.'

"Eight men guarding the building [a district office building]...were killed, [mujahedeen commander] Hajji Zaman said. He gave the names of the dead as Zia ul-Hassan, 16; Wilayat Khan, 17; Abdul Wadi, 20; Jany, 22; Abdul Wahid, 30; Hajji Wazir, 35; Hajji Nasser, also 35; and Awlia Gul, 37.... Ali Shah, 26, of Landa Khel, said, 'There is no one in this village who is part of Al Qaeda.'

"Witnesses said that at least 50 and as many as 200 villagers had been killed.

"'We are poor people,' [Muhammad] Tahir said. 'Our trees are our only shelter from the cold and wind. The trees have been bombed. Our waterfall, our only source of water--they bombed it. Where is the humanity?'"

The Independent , December 4: "The village where nothing happened.... The cemetery on the hill contains 40 freshly dug graves, unmarked and identical. And the village of Kama Ado has ceased to exist.... And all this is very strange because, on Saturday morning--when American B-52s unloaded dozens of bombs that killed 115 men, women and children--nothing happened.... We know this because the U.S. Department of Defence told us so.... 'It just didn't happen.'"

The New York Times , December 12, David Rohde, writing from Ghazni, Afghanistan: "Each ward of the Ghazni Hospital features a new calamity. In the first, two 14-year-old boys had lost parts of their hands when they picked up land mines. 'I was playing with a toy and it exploded' said one of them, Muhammad Allah.... a woman named Rose lay on a bed in the corner of the room, grunting with each breath. Her waiflike children slept nearby, whimpering periodically. Early on Sunday morning, shrapnel from an American bomb tore through the woman's abdomen, broke her 4-year-old son's leg and ripped into her 6-year-old daughter's head, doctors here said. A second 6-year-old girl in the room was paralyzed from the waist down. X-rays showed how a tiny shard of metal had neatly severed her spinal cord."

Reported in the Chicago Tribune , December 28, by Paul Salopek, from Madoo, Afghanistan: "'American soldiers came after the bombing and asked if any Al Qaeda had lived here,' said villager Paira Gul. 'Is that an Al Qaeda?' Gul asked, pointing to a child's severed foot he had excavated minutes earlier from a smashed house. 'Tell me' he said, his voice choking with fury, 'is that what an Al Qaeda looks like?'"

Reuters, December 31, from Qalaye Niazi, Afghanistan: "Janat Gul said 24 members of his family were killed in the pre-dawn U.S. bombing raid on Qalaye Niazi, and described himself as the sole survivor.... In the U.S. Major Pete Mitchell--a spokesman for U.S. Central Command--said: 'We are aware of the incident and we are currently investigating.'"

Yes, these reports appeared, but scattered through the months of bombing and on the inside pages, or buried in larger stories and accompanied by solemn government denials. With no access to alternative information, it is not surprising that a majority of Americans have approved of what they have been led to think is a "war on terrorism."

Recall that Americans at first supported the war in Vietnam. But once the statistics of the dead became visible human beings--once they saw not only the body bags of young GIs piling up by the tens of thousands but also the images of the napalmed children, the burning huts, the massacred families at My Lai--shock and indignation fueled a national movement to end the war.

I do believe that if people could see the consequences of the bombing campaign as vividly as we were all confronted with the horrifying photos in the wake of September 11, if they saw on television night after night the blinded and maimed children, the weeping parents of Afghanistan, they might ask: Is this the way to combat terrorism?

Villages Were Again Intentionally Bombed

January 21, 2002 (National Public Radio)

Villages were again intentionally bombed in a six day bombing campaign during the week of January 14th, 2002.

April 2002: Four Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan by American bombs.

July 2002: 48 killed when American bomb hits wedding party.

July 9, 2002

"Why are they shooting our women and children?"


"Why are they shooting our women and children?" asked Abdul Kaliq, a 25-year-old farmer from Kakarak, in Afghanistan.

"The Americans should make peace in Afghanistan and rebuild Afghanistan," he said, wincing as he moved in the hospital bed. Shrapnel lacerated his back and both arms during the raid.

Abdul Kaliq was one of more than 120 survivors as U.S. planes mistakenly attacked an Afghan wedding party on July 1st. More than 40 civilians were killed. Most of them were women and children.

BuzzFlash may have the answer to Abdul Kaliq's question, "Why are they shooting our women and children?"

Here is an interview with an Ithaca, New York, U.S. Army soldier that we linked to in May that may explain it all:

"In an April interview with The Ithaca Journal at his family's Cayuga Heights home, Guckenheimer, 22, shared his experiences during Operation Anaconda. He was sent on March 6 in a company of more than 100 soldiers to participate in the largest U.S.-led ground engagement in Eastern Afghanistan.

"We were told there were no friendly forces," said Guckenheimer, an assistant gunner with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. "If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

The interview was conducted by "The Ithaca Journal." (On June 4th, "The Ithaca Journal" ran a "clarification" from Guckenheimer. We are also posting it below this BuzzFlash Editorial.)

"The celebrations were in full swing," writes The Times of London,"with hundreds of guests preparing for a wedding singing and dancing in the beam of a tractor's headlights. Out of the darkness a warplane descended, sending rockets exploding through the crowd.

Survivors of the party in Kakarak, southern Afghanistan, yesterday described the events after they came under fire in the early hours of Monday from American gunships. They told of a sustained attack from the air, with wedding guests being chased and shot dead as they tried to escape."

It wasn't the first time a wedding was bombed by U.S. military planes either. One article documents at least three wedding bombings by American forces.

"With the festivities, some people said they didn't even hear the AC-130 gunship as it approached the compound. Sadiqa, 15, was in the women's section listening to music when the firing started.

The first fire hit among the women, she said. Terrified, she and others ran out of the courtyard and into surrounding fields. Sadiqa said she searched for a dry stream bed where she could hide. She was shot as she ran, the shrapnel shearing into both legs.

Days later, she still wore the salmon-colored dress she had put on for the party. Her injuries will heal, doctors say; far harder is the loss of her entire family, 15 people who died in the raid.

On a neighboring bed, Sabor Gul, 11, stared out in distress. She looked terrified as two reporters asked what had happened. A nurse explained that the girl was scared because the visitors were Americans.

"The American people bombed us," Sabor said softly. "The airplane was very big. When the bombing started, every woman was scared; other women were killed in the river."

"Around her in the orchard, there was unspeakable gore. A woman's torso had landed in one of the small almond trees. Human flesh was still hanging on the tree five days after the attack, and more putrefying remains were tangled in the branches of a pomegranate tree, its bright scarlet flowers still blooming.

"They were collecting body parts in a bucket," said the governor of Oruzgan Province, Jan Muhammad, who arrived the day after the attack." (see more online)

Afghans Report 17 Civilians Killed in Allied Air Raids


KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb.12, 2003— Afghan officials said today that 17 civilians, including women and children, had been killed in an American-led bombing of a mountainous region of southern Afghanistan, where United States Special Forces have been fighting rebels since Monday.

The fighting began when the Special Forces were attacked in an ambush and called in coalition planes to bomb the area.

Col. Roger King, the United States military spokesman, said that the Special Forces battled about 25 rebels who had been spotted taking up offensive positions around midday Tuesday, and that the Americans had captured 12 men near the village of Lejay.

He reported no American or coalition casualties and said he had no information about civilian casualties. But the civilian toll appears to have been heavy.

An aide to the governor of Helmand Province, where the fighting was going on, said villagers had reported to the authorities that 17 civilians, including women and children, had been killed.

"The people came crying, saying their relatives had died or were missing," the aide, Haji Muhammad Wali, said by telephone from Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah, Reuters reported.

The fighting has been concentrated in Baghran, a mountainous region in the north of the province. Baghran has been a source of concern for the United States military tracking movements of suspected rebels.

American Bomb Kills 11 Afghan Civilians

Wed., April 9, 2003 08:30 AM ET
By Parwez Besmel

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The U.S. military said 11 Afghan civilians, seven of them women, were killed early on Wednesday when an American bomb missed its target and landed on a house in eastern Afghanistan.

"Eleven Afghan civilians were killed and one was wounded early this morning when a bomb dropped by coalition aircraft landed in a house on the outskirts of Shkin near the Pakistan border," said Douglas Lefforge, a spokesman at the U.S. military's headquarters at Bagram air base north of Kabul.

Marie Cocco

U.S. Owes Postwar Aid to Mothers, Children

May 6, 2003

Americans should not believe our "good wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq are kinder and gentler than most.

Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested during a visit to Kabul last week, is such a paragon of progress that it might become a model for reconstruction in Iraq. Save the Children offers another perspective. It ranks Afghanistan among the five worst conflict zones in which to be a woman or child. The others are Angola, Burundi, the Congo and Sierra Leone.

"More than a year after the fall of the Taliban, there is still overwhelming poverty, lack of basic services as well as insecurity, lawlessness and continued violence throughout much of the country," the report says.

On a scale measuring the well-being of children, Afghanistan came in dead last, behind 162 other countries. Eighty-seven percent of the Afghan population remains without safe water, a quarter of children are malnourished, and 71 percent still aren't enrolled in school. This is despite the American president's proclamation in March 2002 that schools were re-opening with spanking new textbooks sent by a generous United States.

As for their mothers - the Afghan women used so widely as public-relations props for American politicians at the war's outset - Save the Children found that almost all of them deliver babies without assistance from trained health personnel. One in seven Afghan women dies during childbirth.

This is not what we promised.

President George W. Bush, in launching the war to wipe out al-Qaida terrorist bases, used the oppression of Afghan women as a casus belli. The women sipped tea at the White House and sat in a place of honor for the State of the Union address. First lady Laura Bush delivered her own speeches espousing their cause. The president said he would learn from the past and not abandon Afghans to warlords and druglords once military goals were met.

"We will not leave until the mission is complete," Bush declared.

This mission is not accomplished. Mostly, aid groups and U.S. diplomatic officials say, it's because much of Afghanistan outside the capital has been abandoned to warlords and druglords.

"The United States has not been prepared to underwrite or ensure security outside Kabul," Save the Children President Charles F. MacCormack said in an interview. "It has been quite insecure in other parts of Afghanistan all along and it's going from bad to worse."

Meanwhile in Iraq, lack of safe water is fostering disease among children, and nearly a month of U.S. occupation has failed to get hospitals functioning properly. MacCormack said security in Iraq improves daily, but banditry remains a threat.

"Trucks are still robbed, people are still shot," he said. "What sense is it for us to re-stock a clinic if somebody's going to come at night and take the stuff?"

December 7, 2003

United States Warplanes Kill Nine Children and One Man

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 7 — United States warplanes attacking a suspected member of the Taliban killed nine children in the southeastern province of Ghazni on Saturday, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Sunday morning. One man was also killed in the attack, they said. The aircraft involved was an A-10 attack jet, a type that flies low and fires guns and rockets in support of infantry.

A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai in Kabul said that when first reports arrived from the region, the American military had denied that the attack occurred. Mr. Karzai has frequently asked the United States military to take greater care with bombing raids on civilian areas and with they intelligence it receives, which has often proved erroneous. There have been hundreds of civilian casualties from bombing raids during the past two years. At least 48 people were killed in July 2002 when American planes fired on a village where a wedding party was in progress.

In another incident, eleven people from one family were killed when a bomb landed on their house near the Pakistani border in Paktika Province. The United States military quickly acknowledged the mistake, saying the attack was aimed at a group of militants whe were trying to escape across the border.

On Oct. 30. American planes bombed a village in the northern province of Nuristan, killing six members of one family, most of them women and children, and two religious students in the village mosque. The military has not yet confirmed that its planes were in the area that night.

In their statement, the United States military said it the targeted man had been involved in the killings of two contractors working on Afghanistan's main highway connecting the capital with the cities of Kandahar and Herat. There have been no reported killings of contractors. Several Afghan security policemen were killed in an attack on the road in September.

American and allied forces in Afghanistan "follow stringent rules of engagement to specifically avoid this type of incident while continuing to target terrorists," the statement said.

The aircraft opened fire on the suspect in what whas described as "an isolated rural site" south of the town of Ghazni, the statement said.

The attack came about 10:30 on Saturday morning. Ghazni is about 80 miles southeast of Kabul on the road to Kandahar, the former stronghold of the Taliban movement that governed Afghanistan before the United States and Afghan opposition forces overthrew it two years ago.

From the BBC, December 7, 2003:

Local villagers in Afghanistan have contradicted US reports that the target of an air strike that killed nine children also died in the raid.

The attack was carried out on Saturday in the village of Hutala, in a remote area of southern Ghazni province.

US officials said they were acting on extensive intelligence and had killed a former Taleban militant, Mullah Wazir.

But local Afghans told the BBC's Crispin Thurold the intended target had left the village 10 days earlier.

The United Nations has condemned the incident as "profoundly distressing " and called for a swift inquiry.

Patches of dried blood and a pitiful pile of children's hats and shoes are the only evidence that remains of a bombing raid that went dreadfully wrong, our correspondent says.

Seven boys, two girls and a 25-year-old man were killed when two A-10 American planes fired rockets and bullets into a group of villagers sitting under the shade of a tree at about 1030 local time (0600 GMT) on Saturday.

Only one house was hit in the attack - but accounts differ on whether it belonged to the militant targeted.

US ground forces found the bodies of the children near that of the intended target after the strike, US military spokesman Major Christopher West said.

Six Afghan Children Killed in U.S. Attack

By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer , December 10, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan - Six children were crushed to death by a collapsing wall during an assault by U.S. forces on a weapons compound in eastern Afghanistan, an American military spokesman said Wednesday — the second time in a week that children have been killed in U.S. action against Taliban and al-Qaida suspects.

Both incidents occurred in Pashtun-dominated areas, risking further alienation among the country's largest ethnic group from which the Islamic militant Taliban emerged. The areas already have been a focus of insurgent attacks on coalition and government targets, and international aid workers.

Two adults were killed along with the six children during an attack Friday night against a complex in Paktia province where a renegade Afghan commander, Mullah Jalani, kept a huge cache of weapons, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty.

"The next day we discovered the bodies of two adults and six children," he said. "We had no indication there were noncombatants" in the compound.

Jalani is believed to be an associate of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who has joined the resurgent Taliban. The military believes Jalani was involved in recent attacks against coalition forces, but has not provided any details.

Jalani was not at the site, but nine other people were arrested, Hilferty said. He did not identify the adults that were killed or say whether they were combatants or civilians.

Hilferty said U.S. warplanes and troops attacked the compound, setting off secondary explosions. He expressed regret over the death of civilians in Afghanistan, but said it was impossible to completely avoid such incidents.

"We try very hard not to kill anyone. We would prefer to capture the terrorists rather than kill them," Hilferty said.

"But in this incident, if noncombatants surround themselves with thousands of weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and howitzers and mortars in a compound known to be used by a terrorist, we are not completely responsible for the consequences."

Afghans Condemn U.S. Airstrike Deaths

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press, 7/5/2005

KABUL, Afghanistan -
Afghanistan on Tuesday condemned the killing of up to 17 civilians in a U.S. airstrike, and a senior American defense official confirmed the deaths of two Navy SEALs who were missing in action in the country's northeast.

"The president is extremely saddened and disturbed," said Jawed Ludin, President Hamid Karzai's chief of staff. "There is no way ... the killing of civilians can be justified. ... It's the terrorists we are fighting. It's not our people who should suffer."

An initial strike destroyed a house, and as villagers gathered to look at the damage, a U.S. warplane dropped a second bomb on the same target, killing 17 of them, including three women and children.

U.S. forces "regret the loss of innocent lives and follow stringent rules of engagement specifically to ensure that noncombatants are safeguarded. However, when enemy forces move their families into the locations where they conduct terrorist operations, they put these innocent civilians at risk."

The civilians are the latest victims in an unprecedented spate of violence that has left about 700 people dead and threatened to sabotage three years of progress toward peace. Afghan officials insist the violence will not disrupt landmark legislative elections slated for September.

Fatal Errors That Led to Massacre

Guardian Reveals Blunders by US

Luke Harding in Mazar-i-Sharif, Simon Tisdall in Washington, Nicholas Watt and Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday December 1, 2001
The Guardian

A single, horrific, atrocity can provide the defining moment in a war. America is still facing demands to apologise for the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and the remains of charred Iraqi soldiers on the Mutla ridge outside Kuwait were a chilling illustration of Washington's overwhelming firepower in the Gulf war.

As the net tightened around the Taliban leadership yesterday, questions were being asked about whether the bloody end to this week's prison siege at the 19th-century Qala-i-Jhangi fort outside the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif will be the defining moment of the Afghan war. Pictures of aid workers picking their way through the corpses of Taliban prisoners killed by a combination of Northern Alliance fighters and American bombings, have caused revulsion around the world. At least 175 prisoners were killed; that is the number of bodies recovered so far by the Red Cross.

As pressure grows on Britain and the US to hold an inquiry into the killings, the Guardian has pieced together a detailed account of this week's events. This suggests that from the very first, when Taliban soldiers fell into the hands of the alliance after the fall of Kunduz, a series of catastrophic errors were made.

In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, the anti-Taliban commander who negotiated the surrender said that things had gone wrong largely because of American miscalculation. Amir Jan, a Pashtun commander who defected to the anti-Taliban forces earlier this year, said that the foreign Taliban fighters from Kunduz - mainly Arabs, Pakistanis and men from Uzbekistan - were never supposed to go for their formal surrender to Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan's main northern city.

The foreigners were meant to surrender at Erganak, a mountainous frontline position 12 miles west of Kunduz. Instead, they travelled across the desert through the night and arrived on the outskirts of Mazar, in a wilderness of desert and telegraph poles, at 3am last Saturday.

Mullah Faizal, the Taliban's commander at Kunduz, had told the foreign fighters to give up their weapons - but failed to tell them that they would then be taken into custody, it emerged from Amir Jan's account: "The foreigners thought that after surrendering to the Northern Alliance they would be free," he said. "They didn't think they would be put in jail."

While US soldiers dressed in desert khaki set up satellite links, soldiers loyal to the alliance warlord Rashid Dostam took up attack positions. After three to four hours' negotiation, the Taliban fighters agreed to surrender again - but only to Amir Jan, whom they trusted because of his Pashtun roots and Taliban history. General Dostam's militia then began disarming the Taliban fighters and piling their weapons into a green lorry.

Gen Dostam had arranged to take the prisoners to Mazar-i-Sharif's large Soviet-built airfield, but American special forces vetoed the plan, saying that the runway could be needed for military operations, Amir Jan revealed.

Heavy weaponry

Instead, Gen Dostam would take the prisoners to his personal fortress on the muddy outskirts of Mazar - the Qala-i-Jhangi. Over the previous two weeks several American officers had secretly spent many hours in the compound. They knew it was full of heavy weaponry.

Nonetheless, they agreed with the impromptu Dostam scheme. By mid-afternoon, the prisoners had been piled into five trucks. Said Kamal, Gen Dostam's head of security, arranged for prisoners in the first three trucks to be body searched. But with dusk approaching, the convoy set off with the last two trucks not searched. This proved to be disastrous.

While Gen Dostam left with the bulk of his army towards Kunduz, the convoy rolled the other way into the Qala-i-Jhangi, where a comparatively small number of guards had been left behind. Nader Ali, Gen Dostam's chief of police, tried again tosearch the prisoners soon after they arrived in late afternoon. One Taliban fighter about to be frisked detonated a hidden grenade killing himself, Ali and another Dostam aide.

While the dying Ali was carried away, soldiers then bundled the Taliban fighters into the stable area to the north of the compound. The search was abandoned.

That night eight of the fighters blew themselves up in a storage room in the prisoners' compound, Amir Jan said. It soon became clear that a large minority of the Taliban were still armed with grenades. "After that I decided they were hardliners, that they were dangerous," the Pashtun commander added. "We agreed it would be better to tie up their hands and put them in the basement."

Next morning the guards prepared to implement this new order. At the same time Simon Brooks, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan, swept into the Qala-i-Jhangi in his white Red Cross vehicle. He was looking for assurances from Said Kamal, the Dostam security chief, that the prisoners would be treated humanely. The Red Cross also wanted to register the prisoners' names and get messages for their families. Mr Brooks was not the only person interested in the Arab, Pakistani and Chechen detainees.

Two CIA agents, Johnny "Mike" Spann and "Dave", had also been instructed to screen the Taliban fighters for possible links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organisation. From a distance Dave looked Afghan. He even spoke Uzbek, the language of Gen Dostam's soldiers, and wore a salwar kameez beneath a long coat. But his square-cropped haircut gave the game away, indicating he was American.

Two television crews - from Reuters and the German station ARD - had also turned up at the fort. They were in the prisoners' compound, together with Dave and Mike, who had begun interviewing suspects.

At 11.25am the Taliban fighters were marched to the central grassy compound of their mini-citadel. The guards tied up the first eight prisoners, Amir Jan said. "The prisoners suspected they were about to be shot. They attacked one of the guards and grabbed his gun," he added. The foreign fighters also assumed that the television journalists were American soldiers who had come to film their execution.

Another prisoner grabbed Mike and set off a grenade, blowing him up. This conflicts with the CIA account of his death which says that he was shot.


All hell then broke loose: the prisoners shot dead five guards and grabbed their weapons, while the journalists ran for cover. Dave managed to escape only by shooting dead at least one Taliban prisoner with his pistol. A firefight blew up between the prisoners, now in charge of their own fortified area, and soldiers sitting in Gen Dostam's headquarters building 300 metres away, down a line of trees.

"Dave managed to reach the rooftop [of Dostam's HQ] about 15 minutes after fighting broke out," Simon Brooks of the Red Cross said yesterday. "One of the Taliban who had obviously been wired with explosives simply grabbed the other American and the bomb detonated."

"I met Dave in the building. He was absolutely completely shocked and really quite scared. I can now understand why: he witnessed his friend being blown up. He had managed to shoot his way out and run 150 metres out of the building."

Soon the firefight had developed into a battle, as the Taliban prisoners broke into the arms depot and helped themselves to mortars and rocket launchers. From the rooftop, Dave borrowed a satellite phone from the German TV crew and phoned the American embassy in Uzbekistan.

"We have lost control of the situation. Send in helicopters and troops," he said.

The call appeared to work. As the Red Cross vehicle blazed in the car park, and Mr Brooks slithered down the mud battlements to safety, the Pentagon prepared to send in the air force. Most of the eight prisoners who had been tied up when the battle broke out were shot dead in the early minutes; the others were able to take cover.

At 3.30pm the jets sent by the Pentagon fired nine or 10 missiles directly into the Taliban's positions. All of them hit their target - apart from the last one, which sank into a field more than 1km away. In the confusion, a small group of at least 10 prisoners escaped.

The following day the remaining Taliban, some armed with rocket launchers, held out as B-52 bombers flew repeatedly overhead. Alarmed by the resilience of the Taliban fighters, further special forces arrived at the base on Tuesday. They reportedly advised the alliance to flush out the remaining Taliban by pouring oil into the basement and setting fire to it. It took a tank and an intensification of bombings from the air to finish them off.

Confident that the way was clear, the alliance regained control of the fortress on Wednesday. But on Thursday it emerged that a lone Talib was still holed up in a basement, surviving on horse meat.

High above the lone survivor, the imposing figure of Gen Dostam toured the fortress where the full horror of the siege was on display. An Associated Press photographer saw the bodies of up to 50 Taliban fighters whose hands had been bound by scarves, laid out in a field in the southern part of the fort. The photographer watched as alliance fighters cut the scarves from the hands of some of the corpses; at least one picked gold fillings from a corpse.

As Washington tried to wash its hands of the episode, saying that the alliance was responsible for the prisoners, human rights lawyers warned that the Geneva convention may have been breached on two counts: the degrading treatment of the Taliban, when they were tied up, and the huge firepower directed at them by US warplanes.

On the first count, article 13 of the convention says: "Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated." On the second count, the convention permits the use of force against prisoners. But it says that this must be proportionate.

Christopher Greenwood, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and joint editor of International Law Reports, said that killing people with hands tied behind their backs was illegal. "If it was heavy-handed overreaction, it was illegal", he said.

There were also questions about the conduct of the two CIA officers. Adam Roberts, professor of international relations at Oxford University and an authority on the laws of war, described their conduct as "incredibly stupid and unprofessional".

Angered by the death of Spann - the first American known to have died in the conflict - the director of the CIA, George Tenet, accused the Taliban of premeditated murder.

"Their prison uprising - which had murder as its goal - claimed many lives, among them that of a very brave American," he said of Spann, who worked in the directorate of operations, which analysts says is involved in "paramilitary" activities.

As the final bodies are cleared, the battle has now moved to Britain and America, whose governments have rejected calls by Amnesty International for an inquiry. Amnesty said yesterday that this raised questions about their commitment to the rule of law.

A head of steam is unlikely to build up around this issue, however. At his weekly appearance in the Commons this week, Tony Blair faced only one question about Afghanistan and that was about Marjan, the one-eyed lion at Kabul zoo.

Why? Amnesty's 10 questions

· Why were the Taliban not properly disarmed?

· Was the response of the detaining powers proportionate? Was only minimum force used, as required by the Geneva convention?

· Who ordered planes in and why?

· Could this situation have been contained without such use of force?

· Were those who were killed still bound?

· Did summary executions take place?

· Were people deliberately left in harm's way?

· Are those who desecrated bodies to be held responsible?

· Are summary executions still taking place in Afghanistan?

· Are there serious shortcomings in the holding of prisoners in Afghanistan? Is the alliance able to perform this role?

Afghan War Documentary Charges US With Mass Killings of POWs

Showings in Europe spark demands for war crimes probe

By Stefan Steinberg, 17 June 2002

A documentary film, Massacre in Mazar, by Irish director Jamie Doran, was shown to selected audiences in Europe last week, provoking demands for an international inquiry into US war crimes in Afghanistan.

The film alleges that American troops collaborated in the torture of POWs and the killing of thousands of captured Taliban soldiers near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif. It documents events following the November 21, 2001 fall of Konduz, the Taliban's last stronghold in northern Afghanistan.

Massacre in Mazar then goes to describe the treatment meted out to the remaining thousands of captives who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance and American troops. A further 3,000 prisoners were separated out from the total of 8,000 who had surrendered, and were transported to a prison compound in the town of Shibarghan.

They were shipped to Shibarghan in closed containers, lacking any ventilation. Local Afghan truck drivers were commandeered to transport between 200 and 300 prisoners in each container. One of the drivers participating in the convoy relates that an average of between 150 and 160 died in each container in the course of the trip.

An Afghan soldier who accompanied the convoy said he was ordered by an American commander to fire shots into the containers to provide air, although he knew that he would certainly hit those inside. An Afghan taxi driver reports seeing a number of containers with blood streaming from their floors.

Another witness relates that many of the 3,000 prisoners were not combatants, and some had been arrested by US soldiers and their allies and added to the group for the mere crime of speaking Pashto, a local dialect. Afghan soldiers testify that upon arriving at the prison camp at Shibarghan, surviving POWs were subjected to torture and a number were arbitrarily killed by American troops.

One Afghan, shown in battle fatigues, says of the treatment of prisoners in the Shibarghan camp: “I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck and poured acid on others. The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them.”

Another Afghan soldier states, “They cut off fingers, they cut tongues, they cut their hair and cut their beards. Sometimes they did it for pleasure; they took the prisoners outside and beat them up and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never returned and they disappeared, the prisoner disappeared. I was there.”

Another Afghan witness alleges that, in order to avoid detection by satellite cameras, American officers demanded the drivers take their containers full of dead and living victims to a spot in the desert and dump them. Two of the Afghan civilian truck drivers confirm that they witnessed the dumping of an estimated 3,000 prisoners in the desert.

According to one of the drivers, while 30 to 40 American soldiers stood by, those prisoners still living were shot and left in the desert to be eaten by dogs. The final harrowing scenes of the film feature a panorama of bones, skulls and pieces of clothing littering the desert.

See Also:
More evidence of US war crimes in Afghanistan: Taliban POWs suffocated inside cargo containers [13 December 2001]
The Geneva Convention and the US massacre of POWs in Afghanistan [7 December 2001]
After US massacre of Taliban POWs: the stench of death and more media lies [29 November 2001]
US atrocity against Taliban POWs: Whatever happened to the Geneva Convention? [28 November 2001]
US war crime in Afghanistan: Hundreds of prisoners of war slaughtered at Mazar-i-Sharif [27 November 2001]
US war crime at Mazar-i-Sharif prison: new videotape evidence [11 December 2001]
Thousands of POWs held in appalling conditions in Afghanistan [8 January 2002]

Report Details Abuse, Torture of Prisoners by US forces in Afghanistan

By Joseph Kay, 10 March 2004

Email the author

A report released over the weekend by Human Rights Watch, entitled “Enduring Freedom: Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan,” details illegal and abusive treatment meted out by US troops against prisoners captured as part of the American government's ongoing operations in Afghanistan. The report examines cases of indiscriminate and excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, and mistreatment in detention, including torture.

The report underscores the absurdity of US claims that in invading the country it was liberating the Afghan people and creating a democracy. Not only is Afghanistan ruled by a US stooge regime in alliance with warlords, but the US military force, numbering over 10,000, operates with impunity and contempt for international law and complete disregard for the democratic rights of the country's population.

The report, available at the Human Rights Watch web site, www.hrw.org , summarizes previously reported cases of mistreatment and presents new evidence based upon interviews with Afghans who have been released from US detention. Access to those currently held by the US or under the control of Afghan forces allied with the US is severely restricted.

The most serious charges concern the treatment of those captured by US forces, including both combatants and civilians. Human Rights Watch estimates that since 2002 over 1,000 individuals have been arrested, many having been subsequently released. These individuals describe conditions of intense mental and physical duress that constitute torture according to internationally accepted standards and the United States' own statements condemning similar practices carried out by other governments.

Human Rights Watch cites two men who report that during the period of their detention at the main American detention facility at the Bagram airbase, “bright lights were set up outside their cells, shining in, and US military personnel took shifts keeping the detainees awake by banging on the metal walls of their cells with batons. The detainees said they were terrified and disoriented by sleep deprivation, which they said lasted for several weeks.”

Also quoted is a Pakistani fighter with the Taliban who was detained by US troops at the Kandahar airport in early 2002. He describes being shackled and beaten by US troops during the course of his flight to the detention facility. All of the captives on the plane were forced to sit in painful positions. “If we fell to the side or moved,” the individual is quoted as saying, “the armed men standing over our heads would beat us mercilessly with their army boots, kicking us in our back and kidneys. We were all beaten, without exception.”

According to the individual, these practices continued during the period of detention. “When we were in Kandahar, we were not allowed to talk with each other and if we did, we were beaten and we were not allowed to sleep. For instance, if we were sleeping we were woken up, or if we were covering our head with our bed cover we were beaten strongly.”

The statements of these and other prisoners interviewed by Human Rights Watch are corroborated by previous reports and by the statements of US military officials. In March 2003, Roger King, a US military spokesman at the Bagram facility, acknowledged, “We do force people to stand for an extended period of time...Disruption of sleep has been reported as an effective way of reducing people's inhibition about talking or their resistance to questioning.”

Previous reports indicate that the methods of constant shackling, sleep deprivation and prolonged standing are common techniques employed by US forces at Bagram. Beatings may be more common at other facilities.

The HRW report states that after a January 2002 raid by US troops, 20 individuals were captured and taken to Kandahar. “Several of these detainees said that they were kicked and punched repeatedly by US forces after they arrived, and suffered broken bones that went untreated...Among these beaten was an elderly man, who had his hand broken.”

Conditions may be even worse at prisons run by Afghans allied with the US, including a facility with hundreds of prisoners run by the notorious warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a member of the government of Hamid Karzai.

With US complicity, Dostum's forces were responsible for the massacre of thousands of Taliban prisoners at Mazar-i-Sharif at the end of the war. The report quotes a human rights monitor who has visited prisoners under Dostum's control as noting that severe beatings are an “ordinary thing.” These Afghan prisons cannot be separated from those run by the US. American military and CIA officials have routine access to these detainees, most of whom have been captured in joint operations with the US.

The report notes that such treatment is in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Geneva Conventions prohibit torture and cruel treatment, whether physical or mental. Prolonged shackling has been termed torture by the United Nations secretary general. The US State Department has categorized prolonged sleep deprivation as torture in its reports on human rights abuses by other countries.

In addition to torture, Afghans are subject to the classic conditions of a military state: arbitrary and indefinite detention with no recourse or legal rights. US forces often use excessive force in arresting individuals, resulting in casualties and property destruction.

The report details the case of one individual, Ahmed Khan, whose home was raided in late July 2002. American troops bombarded his house, where he lived with his wife and children, using massive firepower, although there were no signs of resistance from Khan or anyone else.

According to Khan, helicopters fired on the house with machine guns, shattering windows and doors, after which troops stormed the house. “They broke all the windows, and tore the doors off cupboards, and shot open the boxes,” apparently looking for weapons. One individual—a neighboring farmer and father of four—was killed during the operation, and another was wounded. A UN staff person reported seeing the area littered with spent shells, all from American weapons.

Khan alleges that during or after the raid many of his possessions were stolen, either by American troops or Afghans allied with the Americans.

Other cases involve a similar pattern of massive American force against those suspected of possessing weapons or having ties to Taliban forces. The report points to well documented instances, including an attack by US forces in December 2003. The bombing campaign in a residential neighborhood resulted in the death of eight civilians, including six children.

Some of those detained are subsequently released after American troops determine they have no relevant knowledge. Those who remain in the detention facilities are denied basic democratic rights and due process.

“Ordinary civilians caught up in the military operations and arrested are left in a hopeless situation,” writes Human Rights Watch. “Once in custody, they have no way of challenging the legal basis for their detention or obtaining a hearing before an adjudicative body. They have no access to legal counsel. Their release is wholly dependent on the decision of the US military command, with little apparent regard for the requirements of international law or the due process requirements of human rights law.”

All the prisoners are being held as “unlawful combatants,” a category the US has devised to maintain that the prisoners are not protected by the Geneva Conventions.

The US military has arrogated to itself the right to “disappear” Afghans without any accountability. The report points to the case of one individual, Abdul Gehafouz Akhundzada, who was arrested in February 2003. “After the arrest...Akhundzada was taken away in a helicopter, presumably to Bagram airbase, but his family was not informed of the location or reason for his arrest over the following months. As of late 2003, there was no response to appeals made through local government officials to both the US and the Afghan authorities for an explanation as to his whereabouts.”

The Human Rights Watch report has been released amidst signs of growing social tensions in Afghanistan. With the US carrying out a large-scale military campaign in the south of the country with the aim of capturing Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, there is no doubt that the anti-democratic methods employed by American forces will continue and intensify.

See Also:
US forces kill 11 more civilians in Afghanistan [20 January 2004]
Afghanistan: Report documents violence and repression by US-backed warlords [2 August 2003]
Afghan officials confirm US role in massacre of Taliban prisoners [17 March 2003]

The Innocent Dead in a Coward's War

Estimates suggest US bombs have killed at least 3,767 civilians

Seumas Milne
Thursday December 20, 2001
The Guardian

The price in blood that has already been paid for America's war against terror is only now starting to become clear. Not by Britain or the US, nor even so far by the al-Qaida and Taliban leaders held responsible for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. It has instead been paid by ordinary Afghans, who had nothing whatever to do with the atrocities, didn't elect the Taliban theocrats who ruled over them and had no say in the decision to give house room to Bin Laden and his friends.

The Pentagon has been characteristically coy about how many people it believes have died under the missiles it has showered on Afghanistan. Acutely sensitive to the impact on international support for the war, spokespeople have usually batted away reports of civilian casualties with a casual "these cannot be independently confirmed", or sometimes simply denied the deaths occurred at all. The US media have been particularly helpful. Seven weeks into the bombing campaign, the Los Angeles Times only felt able to hazard the guess that "at least dozens of civilians" had been killed.

Now, for the first time, a systematic independent study has been carried out into civilian casualties in Afghanistan by Marc Herold, a US economics professor at the University of New Hampshire. Based on corroborated reports from aid agencies, the UN, eyewitnesses, TV stations, newspapers and news agencies around the world, Herold estimates that at least 3,767 civilians were killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10. That is an average of 62 innocent deaths a day - and an even higher figure than the 3,234 now thought to have been killed in New York and Washington on September 11.

Of course, Herold's total is only an estimate. But what is impressive about his work is not only the meticulous cross-checking, but the conservative assumptions he applies to each reported incident. The figure does not include those who died later of bomb injuries; nor those killed in the past 10 days; nor those who have died from cold and hunger because of the interruption of aid supplies or because they were forced to become refugees by the bombardment. It does not include military deaths (estimated by some analysts, partly on the basis of previous experience of the effects of carpet-bombing, to be upwards of 10,000), or those prisoners who were slaughtered in Mazar-i-Sharif, Qala-i-Janghi, Kandahar airport and elsewhere.

Champions of the war insist that such casualties are an unfortunate, but necessary, byproduct of a just campaign to root out global terror networks. They are a world apart, they argue, from the civilian victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre because, in the case of the Afghan civilians, the US did not intend to kill them.

In fact, the moral distinction is far fuzzier, to put it at its most generous. As Herold argues, the high Afghan civilian death rate flows directly from US (and British) tactics and targeting. The decision to rely heavily on high-altitude air power, target urban infrastructure and repeatedly attack heavily populated towns and villages has reflected a deliberate trade-off of the lives of American pilots and soldiers, not with those of their declared Taliban enemies, but with Afghan civilians. Thousands of innocents have died over the past two months, not mainly as an accidental byproduct of the decision to overthrow the Taliban regime, but because of the low value put on Afghan civilian lives by US military planners.

Raids on targets such as the Kajakai dam power station, Kabul's telephone exchange, the al-Jazeera TV station office, lorries and buses filled with refugees and civilian fuel trucks were not mistakes. Nor were the deaths that they caused. The same goes for the use of anti-personnel cluster bombs in urban areas. But western public opinion has become increasingly desensitised to what has been done in its name. After US AC-130 gunships strafed the farming village of Chowkar-Karez in October, killing at least 93 civilians, a Pentagon official felt able to remark: "the people there are dead because we wanted them dead", while US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld commented: "I cannot deal with that particular village."

Yesterday, Rumsfeld inadvertently conceded what little impact the Afghan campaign (yet to achieve its primary aim of bringing Bin Laden and the al-Qaida leadership to justice) has had on the terrorist threat, by speculating about ever more cataclysmic attacks, including on London. There will be no official two-minute silence for the Afghan dead, no newspaper obituaries or memorial services attended by the prime minister, as there were for the victims of the twin towers. But what has been cruelly demonstrated is that the US and its camp followers are prepared to sacrifice thousands of innocents in a coward's war.


U.S. News, November 19, 20112:15 AM

Army Sergeant Gets Five Years in Afghan Misconduct Probe

By Elaine Porterfield

TACOMA, Wash (Reuters) - A U.S. Army sergeant was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for crimes that included beating a subordinate whose whistle-blowing led to an investigation of rogue soldiers murdering unarmed Afghan civilians.

Staff Sergeant David Bram was found guilty by court-martial on most of the charges against him, becoming the 11th soldier convicted in connection with the widest-ranging prosecution of U.S. military atrocities and other misconduct during 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

The jury panel consisting of two officers and three enlisted men deliberated for 90 minutes before rendering its guilty verdict on all but two of the nine counts against Bram. It took the panel about another hour to decide his sentence.

Addressing the court before sentencing, Bram apologized to “the people of Afghanistan” and said, “I pray I have not deterred any young Americans from serving their nation.

“I truly do understand the weight of what I’ve done,” he added, choking back tears. “I understand I must be punished for my actions. I ask for mercy, not for myself but for my beautiful children.”

Bram, 27, the father of a young son and daughter, will be eligible for parole after serving about 3 years and four months of his five-year sentence. Prosecutors had recommended a prison term of seven years.

Bram was acquitted of charges that he mistreated a detainee while on patrol last year in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province or that he planted evidence near the body of an Afghan casualty.

But he was found guilty of, among other offenses, solicitation to commit murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit assault and trying to impede an investigation.

He was also convicted of taking part with several soldiers in the May 2010 beating of Army Private Justin Stoner, an informant whose report of rampant hashish use in their platoon led Army investigators to uncover other crimes, including unprovoked killings of innocent villagers.

Pentagon officials have said misconduct exposed by the case had damaged the image of the United States around the globe.

Photographs entered as evidence in the investigation showed some of the soldiers casually posing with bloodied Afghan corpses, drawing comparisons to the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

Five members of the infantry unit formerly known as the 5th Stryker Brigade ultimately were charged with premeditated murder for killing Afghan villagers in random slayings staged to look like legitimate combat engagements.

The accused ringleader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, was convicted by court-martial last week of murdering three unarmed civilians, drawing an automatic life prison sentence, but he will be eligible for parole in 8-1/2 years.

His onetime right-hand-man turned chief accuser, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock was sentenced in March to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to the same three murders. He also was one of several soldiers to testify against Bram.

A third soldier charged with murder, Adam Winfield, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison. A fourth, Andrew Holmes, was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to a single count of murder. The fifth, Michael Wagnon, still faces court martial.

Bram received the stiffest penalty among seven other Stryker Brigade members who were charged with lesser offenses in the investigation.

The other six, convicted either by court-martial or guilty pleas, received sentences ranging from demotion or dishonorable discharge to 90 days of hard labor and jail terms of up to nine months.

Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

12-Year-Old Girl Killed in NATO Raid on Wrong Afghan Home

May 12, 2011 as reported in the New York TImes

KABUL, Afghanistan — A raid by NATO troops singled out a wrong house and killed a 12-year-old girl along with her uncle, the target of the raid because he was incorrectly believed to be a local Taliban leader. It was the third time in the past year and a half that raids killed innocent people in the Surkhrod District.

“It was around 12 o’clock midnight, and we heard someone knocking at the door,” said Neik Mohammed, whose home was raided. “We thought it was thieves or criminals. A short time after the knocking we heard a loud explosion; the explosion was from a grenade thrown into our yard. My daughter, who was sleeping with us in the courtyard, was hit by the bomb’s shrapnel in her head, and she died on the spot.”

NATO issued a statement that said, “An individual ran out the back of the compound toward the outer security perimeter and was killed when the security force mistakenly identified what they suspected was a weapon on the individual,” it said. “Later, the force discovered the individual was an unarmed Afghan female adolescent.”

The uncle who was murdered was a policeman, age 25 with a wife and two daughters. He was shot twice: once in the head and once in the chest. His pistol magazine was full. No round had been fired from it. NATO said Mr. Shukrullah was shot because he was armed and had threatened the foreign military personnel who were invading the house. Rear Adm. Harold Pittman, NATO’s deputy chief of staff for communications, apologized for the deaths. “They killed my 12 year-old innocent daughter and my brother-in-law and then told me, ‘We are sorry,’ ” Mr. Mohammed said. “What does it mean? What pain can be cured by this word ‘sorry’?”

What Motivates The Taliban

Sunday Oct. 18, 2009

The New York Times' David Rohde writes about the seven months he was held hostage by a group of extremist Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and conveys this observation about what motivates them:

My captors harbored many delusions about Westerners. But I also saw how some of the consequences of Washington’s antiterrorism policies had galvanized the Taliban. Commanders fixated on the deaths of Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians in military airstrikes, as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged.

Apparently, when we drop bombs on Muslim countries -- or when Israel attacks Palestinians -- that fuels anti-American hatred and militarism among Muslims.  The same outcomes occur when we imprison Muslims without charges in places like Guantanamo and Bagram.  Imagine that.  Recall, according to Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, what prompted 9/11 "ringleader" Mohammed Atta to devote himself to a suicide mission, as recounted by Juan Cole during the Israel/Gaza war:

In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Cana/ Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs wrought a different sort of transformation. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw graphic footage on the news. He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. As soon as operation Grapes of Wrath had begun the week before, he had written out a martyrdom will, indicating his willingness to die avenging the victims, killed in that operation--with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 307: "On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.  It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged, and by filling out his last testament during the attack he was offering his life in response."

On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660.

You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.

Afghanistan War Waste

By Full Measure Staff Sunday, July 1st 2018

Today, an important progress report on Afghanistan where we're fighting the longest war in American history. Today's 16-year olds weren't even born when we invaded the country for shielding 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Our longest war has also gobbled up record U.S. tax dollars, which is why we were so surprised to learn how bad things still are today in Afghanistan and what we've gotten for the money.

On October 7, 2001, the U.S. launched operation Enduring Freedom to disrupt the terrorist group al Qaeda, which was operating freely under Afghanistan’s Islamic fundamentalist leadership. Enduring Freedom toppled the Taliban government.

John Sopko: We've been there for 16 years and our mission is to originally was to kick the terrorists out who attacked the United States and then to help create a government that would be supported by their people that could keep the terrorists away from attacking us.

Sharyl: How much money have we spent doing that so far?

John Sopko: For reconstruction alone it’s about $120 billion dollars.

Inspector General John Sopko, an Obama appointee, watches over the spending of all that money.

Sharyl: What would you say is our biggest accomplishment there?

John Sopko: We have created, a working government, working military, health care is has improved for the average Afghan, education has improved for the average Afghan-- but at great cost.

Sharyl: Is it oversimplification to say that we have helped develop a government that is friendly with us but they are still fighting the people we consider terrorists the Taliban and those clashes are going on daily?

John Sopko: Absolutely.

More than 16 years after they were ousted from power, Taliban fighters still wage a stubborn insurgency marked by daily assaults, suicide attacks, and ambushes against US forces. Sopko says, Afghanistan remains so unstable today, that he and other watchdogs can’t even get around the country to oversee spending on projects.

John Sopko: So every day there's another attack. So the security situation is very bad.

The most recent annual figures shatter known records: In one year alone, more than 11-thousand Afghan citizens -- killed in clashes with the Taliban. The number of security incidents -- its highest since tracking began. More than 660-thousand people fled their home, up 40% over the year before.

Sharyl: Is there a way to explain why the security situation could be so bad after we've tried so hard to help?

John Sopko: Well, part of it is that we spent too much money too fast and we didn't hold the Afghans accountable either. So they had officials in their government particularly in their military who were stealing the U.S. funds. I mean there are cases of where they were actually stealing the fuel that we were buying for them, stealing the weapons, selling it to the Taliban.

Sopko has documented billions of dollars in boondoggles in a country that’s legendary for its corruption. Salaries paid to so-called “ghost soldiers” who don’t exist. Loans provided to hotel projects and apartments that were never built. A fleet of planes bought, never used, and quickly scrapped after Sopko began an inquiry.

Sharyl: Where are the failures that lead to so much waste and fraud?

John Sopko: People came in there for six months or a year, spent money like drunken sailors and nobody was ever held accountable. We spent too much money too fast and too small a country with too little oversight. And that's one reason why we lost our money.

Sharyl: What what types of players have benefited if not the U.S. taxpayers?

John Sopko: Corrupt Afghan contractors, officials, corrupt U.S. officials and contractors, foreigners from other countries who have gotten on the gravy train and have not been held accountable.

And now, Sopko faces a new obstacle: the U.S. military recently classified much of the information he says he needs to do his job—and evaluate how our tax money is being spent.

John Sopko: Basically everything that the U.S. taxpayer would need to know to make a determination of how well his money's being spent. And that's that's very upsetting.

We asked him to show us some examples.

John Sopko: Some of the information they've classified, like I said, the Afghan National Security Forces casualties. We've been reporting that since 2009 but now it's classified. The proportion of actual troops in Afghanistan, Afghan troops, in relationship to their stated goals of how many troops they're going to have-- that's now classified. The proportion of their assigned strength, authorized training for the police-- that's now classified. And you just go down the list. We're paying for the Afghan police their salaries. We're paying for the Afghan military salaries. We can't report on how many soldiers actually show up?

Sharyl: What could they be trying to keep from the American public?

John Sopko: Well, look Sharyl, you and I've been in Washington long enough. We know the government never classifies good news. The bottom line is the Taliban and the insurgents know what's going on. The American military knows what's going on. The Afghan government knows what's going on. The only people who don't know what's going on in Afghanistan are the people who are paying for it.

Sharyl: Who's decided to classify this?

John Sopko: So we're going to find out about that but we still don't have the actual classifier named. That's interesting because the official policy is that if something is classified you got to have a name or an issue of who classified it.

Sharyl: Knowing what you know now if you could go back to the very beginning, 2002, what would you recommend we had done differently on the front end?

John Sopko: To have a more complete strategy that identifies who are the corrupt elements in the government. Which tribe, which group you have to avoid. We got into bed with a lot of bad people and now we can't get out. And this is the biggest point: you have to have people accountable. I have spoken to so many contracting officers U.S. contracting officers who have told me they get it an annual performance ratings not based on whether any of the contracts are good or not on just on how much taxpayer dollars they put on contract. If that's the way you reward our contracting officers are we surprised that money's being wasted? We did a very poor job of spending the money in protecting the taxpayer dollars. We have wasted billions of dollars in Afghanistan, in a nutshell.

The Defense Department did not respond to our questions about why so much information about the situation in Afghanistan was recently classified or who was responsible for the decision to classify the information.

US Drone Strike in Kabul Kills 10 Civilians (2021)

By Sophie Mann

A US drone strike against the Islamic State killed 10 civilians in Kabul, some of whom were children, according to news reports. The Washington Post reported early Monday morning that a single extended family was the victims of a nearby strike that occurred as the family was returning to their home Sunday afternoon.

"Bodies were covered in blood and shrapnel, and some of the dead children were still inside the car," a neighbor told the outlet. U.S. Central Command says the strike targeted an Islamic State vehicle bomb that posed an "imminent" threat to the Kabul airport. "We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul. It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further. We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life," said Central Command in a statement. Family members gathered to mourn Sunday night, some reportedly sobbing into the early morning hours. Of the 10 civilians killed, eight were aged 18 or younger.

This is the second US drone strike carried out in response to a suicide bombing and gunfire attack that took place outside the Kabul airport on Thursday. The attack killed 170 Afghan civilians, and 13 members of the U.S. armed forces.

Updated: August 30, 2021 - 9:28am


Afghanistan: US Admits Kabul Drone Strike Killed Civilians

September 18, 2021

The US has admitted that a drone strike in Kabul days before its military pullout killed 10 innocent people. A US Central Command investigation found that an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, died in the 29 August strike. The youngest child, Sumaya, was just two years old. The deadly strike happened days after a terror attack at Kabul airport, amid a frenzied evacuation effort following the Taliban's sudden return to power. It was one of the US military's final acts in Afghanistan, before ending its 20-year operation in the country.