Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Covert Assassins Charged With Hunting, Killing Afghans
By Pratap Chatterjee, Alternet
Capture/kill teams leave a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in their wake, undermining any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects.
"Find, fix, finish, and follow-up" is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these “manhunting” operations and the units assigned to them “capture/kill” teams.
Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations -- and how they regularly went badly wrong -- have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret U.S. military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest. Representing a form of U.S. covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects.
When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert U.S. military “capture/kill” team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name “Carbon,” had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.
The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the U.S. war in Afghanistan -- counterinsurgency (“protecting the people”) and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.
For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article forForeign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, “I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn't speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military.”
It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over “solatia” payments -- condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by U.S. forces -- in Governor Sherzai's presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. “We come here as your guests,” he told the relatives of those killed, “invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children. Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones.”
Monday, 30 August 2010
"The Australians should take the WikiLeaks information to the US [administration] and say: please tell us you have better information than this," Mr Baer said.
"And there are going to be a lot more dead Australians the longer we stay in Afghanistan."
Mr Baer is in Sydney to address an Australian Security Industry Association conference which opens tomorrow. The former CIA officer , who is also the author of books such as See No Evil, The Devil We Know andBlow The House Down, has said the release of the secret reports has uncovered major flaws in the US military campaign, including that the information being used to justify deadly raids is fragmented, and largely coming from secondary sources. He has said much of the information appears to be from intelligence peddlers who are looking for a reward for passing on gossip.
"You cannot conduct special operations like that. You can't win a war that way,'' he said.
He believes the US and its allies should pull out of Afghanistan as fast as possible.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Addressing Afghans, the White House has highlighted the deadline to coax President Hamid Karzai to take more responsibility. But to neighboring Pakistan, officials have stressed a long-term US commitment, fearing Islamabad may otherwise hedge their bets with the Taliban.
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank, said that Obama was almost pursuing a "policy of deliberate confusion" as to the timescale alleging that he deliberately wants some flexibility about what to do next summer.
The top US Marine, General James Conway, said Tuesday it would take "a few years" to hand over southern provinces to Afghan forces and asserted bluntly that the deadline was "probably giving our enemy sustenance."
A week earlier, General David Petraeus, the top Afghan war commander, left open the possibility of recommending to Obama that he delay a mid-2011 withdrawal. Such interventions, which come two months after General Stanley McChrystal was removed as Afghan war commander for disrespect to civilian leaders, have outraged American critics of the Afghan war.
Saturday, 28 August 2010
Friday, 27 August 2010
As Obama's stormtroopers are wound down while there is still some electoral capital to be made, Obama will address America in 4 days with talk of a 'Shift of Focus'. For 'shift of focus' read 'scramble for the exits'. The banner won't say 'Mission Accomplished' emblazoned behind an airforce-jacketed Obama.
No,if it were a 'Liar, Liar' day when the truth had to be told it would read 'Towards the Peace of Obama's Speechwriters'. Under this story about how everything was looking good for a satisfied exit, the newsfeed I found it on had these headlines (same day 27th August) underneath it:
- Colonel Kicked Out of Afghanistan for Anti-Powerpoint Rant
- School gassing shows Afghanistan chaos
- UK Prime Minister Nearly Assassinated in Afghanistan
- Soldier Who Lost Leg Denied Disabled Parking Permit
- Funeral set for Cumbrian soldier
- Taliban Expanding in North and West
- Marine General Rejects Obama's Deadlines
- 5 US Soldiers Charged With Murdering Afghans
- Funerals of Spanish Police Trainers Next Week
- Swedes want to withdraw Troops From Afghanistan
Thursday, 26 August 2010
At least four of the other recent deaths occurred in the nearby province of Kandahar, the main stronghold of the Taliban. These deaths were the direct result of a decision taken by the Australian government to make Australian special forces’ units available to the US military for use in the current Kandahar offensive.
Neither the Labour nor Liberal parties raised or explained the escalation of Australian combat operations in Afghanistan during the election campaign. It was not mentioned in any of the so-called debates between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Nor was it made a point of political opposition by the Greens, which claim to oppose the war but are seeking to enter a post-election de-facto coalition government with either of the major parties. The bipartisan support within the Australian political establishment for the war in Afghanistan and the indefinite commitment of Australian troops was on display again yesterday, as news broke of the death of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney. MacKinney died during a three-hour “intense firefight” in an area to the west of Tarin Kowt, the main occupation base in Uruzgan.
Abbott likewise stated that the war was “vital for the security of our country and the wider world and now is not the time to waver in our commitment”. Repeating the standard propaganda employed to justify the criminal operation, Abbott declared: “I’m not going to put limits on Australia’s commitment to do its bit to rid the world of terrorism.”
The utter fraud of the claims that Australian troops are killing and being killed in Afghanistan to fight terrorism gained a rare airing in the media yesterday, after Andrew Wilkie, an independent candidate in Saturday’s election, attacked the justification as a lie.
While counting has not yet been finalised, Wilkie, who stood against both the Labour and Liberal parties, will likely win the seat of Denison, in Tasmania. In 2003, as the US and its allies, including the Howard government in Australia, were ramping up their “war on terror” rhetoric to justify the invasion of Iraq, Wilkie, a former Army officer, resigned in protest from his position as an intelligence analyst for the Office of National Assessments, attacking the claims that the Iraqi regime possessed large quantities of “weapons of mass destruction”. Good on yer, mate.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Prosecutors say some of his fellow soldiers said Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 25, of Billings, Mont., organized a "kill team" of men willing to kill civilians while on patrol. Another soldier, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, reportedly gave detailed statements to investigators implicating himself and others.
Gibbs had done one tour in Afghanistan and one in Iraq before being redeployed. Some soldiers have said he boasted in Afghanistan about actions he had taken in Iraq.
Tip of the iceberg of course. Watch them walk away scot-free one by one as they always do.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
I was going to post on the inevitable smears on Assange. Fortunately Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque has done it quicker and better:
We have the President of the United States -- who has already openly proclaimed his "right" to assassinate anyone on earth, including American citizens, without the slightest due process of law, simply at his arbitrary command -- now feverishly expanding the use of death squads, whose stealthy night raids on sleeping villages have already killed a vast number of innocent civilians in Afghanistan (as the Wikileaks documents show). This same administration is now running "black ops," secret armies, proxy wars and other covert activities in more than 75 countries around the world. That is to say, the Obama Administration is now murdering people in their beds, fomenting bloody ethnic conflict, supporting and/or carrying out acts of terrorism, spreading corruption, assisting dictators, arming warlords, spreading hate and suffering all over the world -- and doing it knowingly, proudly. ("Evil in broad daylight" indeed, as Arthur Silber details here.)
And these are the moral paragons who have now turned their machinery of lies and smears against Wikileaks. For make no mistake; although the rape charges were manufactured in Sweden -- which, incidentally, is where some of Wikileaks' servers are located -- they emanate from the proud deathlords in Washington. Indeed, didn't we hear just a few weeks ago that the Peace Laureate's people had launched a campaign of pressuring foreign governments to put fetters on Assange and his organization? Now Sweden's center-right government -- no, Rush, Sweden is no longer the super-socialist fairyland of your nightmares -- has obviously hearkened to the master's voice.
But although this first foray has been rebuffed, it is certain that what we are seeing is the beginning of a concerted effort to destroy Assange as a public figure and thereby discredit the work of Wikileaks -- and by extension, the truth of its revelations.
And smearing, of course, is just the first step. If that doesn't work ... well, the avowed and openly proclaimed proponents of assassination certainly have other, more "prejudicial" methods at their disposal, nicht war?
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Another 'Precision Raid' Fiasco By NATO today. Less than 24 hours after the last one. This is the new Petraeus broom sweeping clean the well-established incompetence. Policemen are the latest victims.
|Mohammed Aman and Mohammed Anwar|
Ismail Aman set out from Kabul last week to join his family in nearby Wardak province for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Next day Aman lay bleeding in his family guest room, alongside two of his brothers, all shot dead by U.S. special forces who were on the hunt for 'a Taliban leader'. Their deaths sparked a vitriolic anti-American protest and generated a backlash against the dramatic spike in special forces raids, which have become a crucial element of President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan. NATO officials admitted this week that special forces are taking part in 1,000 operations in Afghanistan each month, a threefold increase over last year. Omid Ali, 21, said his school friend Aman had nothing to do with the Taliban . "I want to say to President Obama: Afghanistan doesn't have hostility towards foreign forces, but, these mistakes, that is how they will be defeated in Afghanistan."
Sourced from various newsfeeds in the UK and Middle East
Friday, 20 August 2010
In a separate incident, alliance soldiers killed an Afghan woman during a raid on a house in the troubled eastern province of Khost, which had aimed to capture a 'Taliban commander', ISAF said.
Chasing the suspect through walled compounds, the troops opened fire after seeing a gun pointing towards them from a room. The troops later found they had killed a woman, an ISAF statement said.
"Inside the room, they found one woman dead and another with a minor wound as a result of the gunfire. An AK-47 was next to the killed female," it said.
According to Afghan tradition women rarely take part in war, but most Afghan households keep firearms in their homes for security.
Civilian casualties are an extremely sensitive issue in Afghanistan, especially when caused by the US-led NATO force, deployed in Afghanistan to help Kabul battle an insurgency being waged by the Taliban.
According to a recent UN report, more than 1200 Afghan civilians lost their lives in violence in the first half of the year, about 31 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Petraeus has trashed Obama and his staffers' blandishments about the exit date from the mess they have exacerbated over 10 years in Afghanistan. Among the other things it demonstrates is the weakness of Obama and his 'strategies' which are now, in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, transparent and tawdry PR exercises. He didn't start any of the debacles but is rapidly leaving an inept and bloodstained set of fingerprints all over them. The latest protest by Afghan civilians against the continued murderous and bungled night raids which Obama favours so much took place yesterday. Details here. Karzai is out of the country or his perfunctory weekly condemnation of Nato's incompetence would already have been issued.
Monday, 16 August 2010
A former Israeli soldier has sparked controversy after posting pictures of herself on Facebook posing with bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners.
The photographs show Eden Abergil positioned provocatively with the men, prompting lurid comments from other users of the popular social networking site.
The pictures, which were uploaded into a folder entitled "Army - the best time of my life," and associated comments were discovered by bloggers, who circulated them on the internet on Monday.
Palestinians have long claimed that they are subject to humiliating and degrading treatment while held in Israeli custody, but Israeli authorities have always rejected such allegations.
Saturday, 14 August 2010
In attacking “terrorism” and simultaneously engaging in “counter-insurgency,” the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan have become a perpetrator of what they are fighting. Worse yet, a feeling of imperial revival has also become part of the picture, and not only among Afghans. This sense of imperial occupation has transformed the supposed solution to the problem of terror in Afghanistan into the problem itself.
Here Petraeus is running into a wall. Back in Iraq his strategy board became famous for its complexity. The “Anaconda Strategy,” designed to squeeze an enemy to death, identified six points of attack on al-Qaida in Iraq: “1) Kinetics (combat); 2) Politics; 3) Intelligence; 4) Detainee Ops; 5) Non-Kinetics (education, jobs programs); and 6) Interagency.” A COIN matrix, Petraeus is believed to be customizing his Anaconda Strategy for the Taliban, except it lacks a key kinetic and political element.
Friday, 13 August 2010
Thursday, 12 August 2010
'The gulf between the two accounts is a reminder of how sensitive every NATO operation in Afghanistan has become. In Taliban-heavy areas it is hard to distinguish villagers from insurgents and sometimes public opinion turns against coalition forces even when they say they are certain they targeted the correct people.'These words are reported verbatim in other US MSM newsfeeds. It looks very much like they are carrying Nato statements word for word and presenting it as news. Fox has 'reported' in the same terms this morning, needless to say. I don't know about you, but I believe the account of the local villagers.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
In a controversial move, Aegis Defence Services, a security contractor with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, is moving its headquarters to Basel from London. Basler Zeitung, the Basel daily newspaper, reported this week that Aegis is now a wholly owned by a shell company based in the Swiss city. In a statement, a PR Company for Aegis confirmed the move, citing tax reasons, as well as, incredibly, the proximity of international organjzations in Switzerland, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC has worked tirelessly to regulate the private security and mercenary industry.
The statement said that “no business activities will be conducted in or from Switzerland.” Reports of the move have been criticized in the Swiss media generally, with commentators calling Aegis “mercenaries” who should not be allowed in Switzerland, which remains an officially neutral country. Coincidentally, a spokesman for President Karzai said on Tuesday that he would be fixing a date after which security contractors would be asked to leave Afghanistan. We will be watching and waiting.
These are not the most significant ones but are a good sample of the whole clusterfuck. H/T to Mathaba.
#1. The Great Escape
Prisons and prisoners are running motifs in the memos. They are full of reports of AAF's (Anti-Afghan Forces) and ACM's (Anti-Coalition Militias) being overcome, disarmed, flex-cuffed and sent off to the nearest base or holding facility. Some describe interrogations, releases and the occasional jailbreak. This entry relays one such escape with a touch of the cinematic despite itself:
On the night of 28 May between 1500Z and 2400Z Mohammed Wali Jan, a detained suspected ACM (Anti-Coalition Militia) was able to use his blanket as a tool and pull in the roof of his cell. From there he climbed the detention facility wall and escaped. The front gate to the PUC (Prison Under Control) facility was secure and we have been able to retrace his movement over the wall and concertina wire and have identified a recent blood trail heading east. Due to this probable escape route we do not at this time suspect any collaboration from HN (Host Nation) workers or terps (interpreters). Searches are being conducted in the local area.
#2. Zawahiri's Gift of Grammar
There are not many Al Qaeda cameos in the WikiLeaks cache, but among them include this arrest made in January of 2004:
Afghan male found drawing map of kabul military training center (kmtc): an afghan male, jaweed ali, was seen drawing a map of kmtc. Jaweed was apprehended at 1000hrs on 12 jan 04 and taken before the 15th kandak commander who asked that the incident be investigated. A search of jaweeds personal effects resulted in the discovery of an english grammar book dedicated to jaweed by zawahiri in arabic. As the name ubl was also found in the same dedication, it was assumed that the zawahiri was the same one known to be an aq member.
#3. The Curse of UX
Numerous documents detail the deaths of young LN's (Local Nationals). There are reports of kids running into streets and being grinded to death by coalition convoys; of young Afghans getting caught in crossfire; and of children being used as mules and spies. Then there are those who make the mistake of playing with UX (Unexploded Ordinance), scattered throughout the country by all sides. This happened in November of 2009:
Col Shamsul [reports] from Barge Matal, that LN children picked up a UXO and were carrying it through town. It detonated and killed 4 and wounded 3. The WIA injuries are burn and schrapnel wounds to the upper body and arms. Col Shamsul requests MEDEVAC of children to CF hospital to receive treatment. 1302z JCC rpts update for incident in Barge Matal. Of the four KIA rpted 2 were women and 2 were children, and one of the WIA has died of wounds. SUM 2xKIA (Women) 3xKIA (Children) 2xWIA (Children)
#4. "Green on Green"
Dozens of documents report violence between factions within the Afghan national forces. These are listed under "Friendly Fire" in a subsection called "Green-Green" conflict. Usually these reports involve firefights between the ANA (Afghan National Army) and the ANP (Afghan National Police). Others describe explosive scuffles and drawn-out battles between tribal militias, who are often allied with ANA or ANP units. In this case , the green on green "Event" involved a rooftop firefight that cut across a moonlit opium haze:
B Coy 1 RIFLES reported that some ABP (Afghan Border Police) high on drugs were arguing and woke up the TERPS (Interpreters). The ABP were later on the roof talking when 3 x shots were fired in the direction of the terps. 1 x ABP fell from the roof apparently from a GSW (Gunshot Wound). QRF (B Coy 1 RIFLES) was alerted and arrived on the scene to deal with the incident and treat the casualty.
The casualty later died from his GSW. OCCD (Operational Command Center - District) will investigate at first light A significant proportion of the ABP in PB (Patrol Base) JUGROOM were high on opium and having a party. An argument between an interpreter and a number of policemen ensued; this developed into a fight between the interpreter and the ABP.
The Guard Commander was called, and the PB Commander and Plt Sjt attempted to negotiate with the ABP Commander. The majority of the ABP were on the roof of the interpreters accommodation, and a number of shots were fired. The sentry in Sanger 2 fired one shot in response believing the lives of his PB Commander and Platoon Sjt were in danger. One ABP was wounded with a single GSW to his abdomen. It is not known whether the round lead to the ABP casualty was fired by the UK sentry or was fired from another weapon. After the medical attention the GSW proved fatal and the MIRT was stood down.
#5. The Cave
There aren't many documents dealing with the Coalition's war on drugs. Most that do are organized on a WikiLeaks page titled " Smuggling ." Here are found interdiction reports of everything from massive hashish screens to garbage bags of softball-sized orbs of wet opium. Then there is this evocative memo , describing the Afghanistan equivalent of a dime-bag bust:
ANA (Afghan National Army) were conducting a joint patrol vic WB 546 800. CCA (Carrier Controlled Approach) had seen personnel down loading jingle trucks in caves vic that grid. We set up an RP approximately 300 meters from the suspected jingle truck sight and put a dismounted patrol along the road.
We established overwatch over the wadi surrounding the area. While attempting to find another cave to the west, we saw a cave to our south with personnel in it. After coming up short looking for jingle trucks, we decided to look into the cave to the South.
A man approached us from the cave and began telling a story about his truck breaking down. ANA and CF (Coalition Forces) were searching the area around the man while we were questioning him. They found an AK-47, two pistols, marijuana, several sticks of explosives, det cord, a large number of D cell batteries, blasting caps, a notebook, a book of pictures and other personal items.
I then had the ANA place the men in flex cuffs and sit them down. We brought them to Salerno. Of the four men, one is young, and one is older. The fat man with the lazy eye was very quiet the whole time.