Thursday, 31 March 2011

Daily NATO Carnage - Just The Three Civilians Today

Isaf Shooting Kills 3 Civilians in Kandahar Thursday, 31 March 2011 10:51. From
At least 3 civilians were killed and 4 others were wounded on Thursday morning in southern Kandahar province, local officials said.
The incident happened at 09:00 am local time when a traffic accident happened in Kandahar city and Isaf forces on the way were confused and started firing in the area, a Kandahar police official told TOLOnews. Isaf has not yet commented.
Kandahar police officials said the wounded were rushed to a nearby hospital in the city. The latest incident happened as the Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday condemned the US troops' killing of civilians in strong terms.
After the Der Spiegel, the German news organisation, published three photos showing US troops posing next to Afghan civilians' bodies, the Rolling Stone magazine published 18 of the same pictures out of 150 obtained by the magazine.
"They killed our youth for entertainment, they killed our elders for entertainment," President Karzai said.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

CENTCOM Have Lost The Propaganda War

In the light of the Kill Team horrors, the Taliban will of course turn CENTCOM’s own motto right back at them: “Being first with the truth”? Was there ever a more ironic or Orwellian piece of nonsense than that motto?  Rolling Stone is being  dismissed by some right-wing, military groupie moonbats as a “left-wing” publication, in an attempt to portray the photos and the accompanying (and very damning) story as some sort of liberal plot to discredit the brave boys spreading 'enduring freedom' (pass the sick bag). This is a new low in long catalogue of the very low and will go a long way to countering any possible “feel-good” stories that CENTCOM may try and plant on its carefully controlled media. The opening of a school in Paktia or the sinking of a well in Badghis will not hold a candle to the butchering of innocent civilians. This is not the only issue infuriating the local population. Night raids in Helmand that target local teachers, calling them “facilitators”; airstrikes that mistake children gathering firewood or working in their fields for armed fighters; “escalation of force” incidents, which usually involve firing on civilian vehicles that may for some reason fail to stop at a hand signal – these daily, life-and-death situations will be difficult to brush away, no matter how clever the strategic communications techniques involved.

Kill Teams in Afghanistan: The Truth

These disgusting photos of murdered Afghans reveal the aggression and racism underpinning the occupation of my country

The disgusting and heartbreaking photos published last week in the German media, and more recently in Rolling Stone magazine, are finally bringing the grisly truth about the war inAfghanistan to a wider public. All the PR about this war being about democracy and human rights melts into thin air with the pictures of US soldiers posing with the dead and mutilated bodies of innocent Afghan civilians.Click to visit the Rolling Stone special report.
I must report that Afghans do not believe this to be a story of a few rogue soldiers. We believe that the brutal actions of these "kill teams" reveal the aggression and racism which is part and parcel of the entire military occupation. While these photos are new, the murder of innocents is not. Such crimes have sparked many protests in Afghanistan and have sharply raised anti-American sentiment among ordinary Afghans.
I am not surprised that the mainstream media in the US has been reluctant to publish these images of the soldiers who made sport out of murdering Afghans. General Petraeus, now in charge of the American-led occupation, is said to place great importance on the "information war" for public opinion – and there is a concerted effort to keep the reality of Afghanistan out of sight in the US.
Last week my initial application for a US entry visa was turned down, and so my book tour was delayed while supporters demanded my right to enter the country. The American government was pressed to relent and allow my visit to go ahead. Ultimately it too will be unable to block out the truth about the war in Afghanistan.
The "kill team" images will come as a shock to many outside Afghanistan but not to us. We have seen countless incidents of American and Nato forces killing innocent people like birds. For instance, they recently killed nine children in Kunar Province who were collecting firewood. In February this year they killed 65 innocent villagers, most of them women and children. In this case, as in many others, Nato claimed that they had only killed insurgents, even though local authorities acknowledged that the victims were civilians. To prevent the facts coming out they even arrested two journalists from al-Jazeera who attempted to visit and report from the site of the massacre.
Successive US officials have said that they will safeguard civilians and that they will be more careful, but in fact they are only more careful in their efforts to cover up their crimes and suppress reporting of them. The US and Nato, along with the office of the UN's assistance mission in Afghanistan, usually give statistics about civilian deaths that underestimate the numbers. The reality is that President Obama's so-called surge has only led to a surge of violence from all sides, and civilian deaths have increased.
The occupying armies have tried to buy off the families of their victims, offering $2,000 for each one killed. Afghans' lives are cheap for the US and Nato, but no matter how much they offer, we don't want their blood money.
Once you know all this, and once you have seen the "kill team" photos, you will understand more clearly why Afghans have turned against this occupation. The Karzai regime is more hated than ever: it only rules through intimidation, corruption, and with the help of the occupying armies. Afghans deserve much better than this.
However, this does not mean more Afghans are supporting the reactionary so-called resistance of the Taliban. Instead we are seeing the growth, under very difficult conditions, of another resistance led by students, women and the ordinary poor people of Afghanistan. They are taking to the streets to protest against the massacre of civilians and to demand an end to the war. Demonstrations like this were recently held in Kabul, Marzar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Farah.
This resistance is inspired by the movements in other countries like Egypt and Tunisia – we want to see "people power" in Afghanistan as well. And we need the support and solidarity of people in the Nato countries.
Many new voices are speaking up against this expensive and hypocritical war in Afghanistan, including soldiers from the Nato armies. When I last visited the UK I had the honour of meeting Joe Glenton, a conscientious objector who spent months in jail for his resistance to the war in Afghanistan. Of his time in prison, Glenton said: "In the current climate I consider it a badge of honour to have served a prison sentence."
So while the world looks in horror at the "kill team" photographs, Joe Glenton's courage and humanity is an important reminder that the war in Afghanistan need not last forever.

Nato Airstrike Kills 4 Civilians - Apology To Karzai In The Post.

The incident took place on the evening of March 25. Afghan officials said earlier that the NATO airstrike had killed at least seven civilians including three children.
The NATO forces attacked a vehicle believed to be carrying 'insurgents' while another vehicle carrying civilians was also hit by the airstrike, the Helmand governor's office said in a statement. 

A joint review was conducted by the Afghan and ISAF incident assessment team, NATO said.
Four civilians travelling in the second vehicle were killed and three others injured as a result of the blast, it said.
'Weapon system video demonstrated both vehicles were traveling as part of one movement and motorcycles were observed providing front and rear security,' the statement said.
'This is a deeply regrettable incident,' said Tim Zadalis, the ISAF director of air plans. 'We will apply what we learned in this assessment in future operations as we strive to eliminate civilian casualties.'
Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is one of the most volatile provinces in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai last week named the provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah as one of the seven areas to be handed over to Afghan forces in July for security responsibilities.
Civilian casualties are a major point of contention between the Afghan government and the international forces, mainly from the United States.
Earlier this month, Karzai asked NATO and US forces to stop all operations that cause civilian fatalities, after he saw an injured child who had lost his limb in an airstrike that killed nine children in the eastern province of Kunar.
Afghan Rights Monitor, a human rights organization in Kabul, said 512 civilians were killed by NATO and US soldiers in 2010.
The only surprising thing about this latest atrocity is the emergence of the fact that ISAF has a 'Director of Air Plans'! I wonder if he is on a bonus scheme.

Murder of Afghan Boy - Pentagon 'Apologised' to Karzai

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday described the reported of killing a teenager by US military as a tragedy and criticized it.
"It is a tragic story and reading it hurts our feeling. This crime committed by those soldiers who are addicted with heroin and hashish," President Karzai said in his address at the graduation ceremony of over 20,000 teachers.
Some US soldiers, according to German influential magazine - Der Spiegel had intentionally killed a 15-years old teen in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province last year as an entertainment activity.
The murderer, who was reported to cut off parts of the body of the boy to keep as memory of their participation in Afghan war, has confessed to the crime.
The Pentagon, according to media reports, said in a statement released on Monday it had apologized for the gruesome incident committed by the US troops.  From Xinhua.
President Karzai in his speech also expressed condolence to the suffering of his countrymen and asked the newly graduated teachers to work hard and serve better the sons and daughters of the land.
He also called on Taliban militants not to target educational centers and students.
There are 8.3 million children go to school in Afghanistan, according to Minister for Education.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Kill Team Death Zone Video

Complete with rock music. The squalour of war does not get any more squalid than this.

Kill Team - New Photos

The body of an Afghan boy about 15 years old named Gul Mudin, in the village of La Mohammad Kalay. On January 15, 2010,
      according to sworn statements, two soldiers in Bravo Company staging the killing to make it look as if they had come under attack - ordering the boy to stand still, tossing a grenade at him, and opening fire from close range.
 (Credit: Courtesy Rolling Stone)

Kill Team Exposure - Fresh Details

1. The kill team murdered with impunity
Five low-ranking soldiers were charged with three murders of Afghan civilians last summer, and were labeled a "rogue unit" that acted covertly and without the knowledge of its superiors. But, writes Mark Boal, a "review of internal army records and investigative files" shows that the "Kill Team" was effectively "operating out in the open, in plain view of the rest of the company." The murder of civilians was thought to be "common knowledge," and officers who were in a position to question the killings — including the 3rd Platoon's commanding officer — failed to do so. Several officers, reveals Boal, have since been promoted.

2. They kept gruesome photos and mementos
One of the accused soldiers, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, allegedly took body parts from murdered corpses as grisly mementos of the kills. He is said to have removed fingers from two murdered civilians, and also removed a tooth from one of the dead. Other soldiers took photos of the trophy kills, and shared them with colleagues via "thumb drives and hard drives."Rolling Stone has obtained these photos [Warning: graphic images]. Some show severed heads and limbs, and others bloodied corpses. "Among the soldiers" of 3rd Platoon, writes Boal, "the collection was treated like a war memento." 

3. A coverup went right to the top
Before the charges were revealed last summer, an Army-wide investigation into the alleged war crimes found evidence of the photos — and went to extraordinary lengths to suppress them, writes Boal. The military "sent agents fanning out across America to the homes of soldiers and their relatives," gathering up copies of the video files. Both General Stanley McChrystal and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were made aware of the photos' existence. But they were not revealed until now. "The message was clear," writes Boal. "What happens in Afghanistan stays in Afghanistan." 

4. There may be more murders... and more suspects
Five soldiers were charged with the murder of three civilians. But evidence from the photos suggests there may be more killings to investigate. One photo of two corpses, alleges Boal, shows two more civilans whose deaths were not reported, "killed by soldiers from another platoon, which has not yet been implicated in the scandal." A source tells Rolling Stone: "Those were some innocent farmers that got killed." Two of the fingers discovered in Staff Sgt. Gibbs' possession did not match the prints taken from the murdered corpses. "Either the records were screwed up," says Boal, "or there were more dead guys out there who were unaccounted for."

5. There's a conspiracy of silence
One of the killers, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, has now been sentenced to 24 years in prison, and Staff Sgt. Gibbs and three others await military tribunal for their crimes. But not a single officer or senior official has been charged in either the murders or the coverup, reveals Boal. A secret investigation into the "critical question of officer accountability" has been carried out, but the Army refuses to reveal what, if any, disciplinary action it has taken against the 3rd Platoon's commanding officers.

Read the entire piece at Rolling Stone

Saturday, 26 March 2011

More Civilian Nato Victims

Scene of NATO attack in Helmland yesterday
The daily toll of the victims of NATO incompetence continues.
NATO said on Saturday that it has launched an investigation to probe an air raid attack that left 'a handful' of Afghan civilians dead and injured in Afghanistan 's Helmand province, some 555 km south of the capital city Kabul.
"During an International Security Assistance Force operation to kill or capture a senior Taliban commander, Afghan civilians were accidentally killed and wounded in Now Zad district, Helmand province yesterday,"the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement released here Saturday.
Without giving the exact number of civilian fatalities, the statement said that ISAF Joint Command is launching a joint incident assessment team to investigate the incident.
"The incident occurred when the ISAF personnel called in an airstrike on two vehicles 'believed to be carrying the Taliban leader and his associates based on intelligence reporting',aid the statement. Standard spin for the carnage they create. The NATO 'investigation' will disappear into the same black hole as all the other 'investigations'.  

Friday, 25 March 2011

Poetry In Afghanistan War

Daft but strangely interesting film clip on song and poetry in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Time To Leave Afghanistan Clip

Some cheesy and painfully noncommittal commentary here but also some thoughtful points.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Kill Team - Morlock Plea Bargains To Avoid Life

“The plan was to kill people, sir,” Morlock said at the start of a court-martial, in which Morlock pleaded guilty to three counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and assault.
His platoon served in southern Afghanistan from summer 2009 to summer 2010. From Here.

Two More Civilians Killed By NATO - Retrospective Spin Deployed

Two more innocent civilians have  been killed in a NATO helicopter gunship attack in the Northern Province of Khost.
"At the time of the strike, two civilians were walking near the moving targeted vehicle," NATO said Thursday. "They were previously unseen by coalition forces prior to the initiation of the airstrike. Unfortunately both were killed as an unintended result of the strike." NATO said a "precision airstrike" killed three insurgents while they were driving in the vehicle. However, Afghan forces said that the occupants of the vehicle were unharmed.
In a new development, NATO, in continuing 'apologies', are now describing their recent similar killing of nine children who were gathering firewood for their families as firewood gatherers for 'insurgents'. This is a new and retropective spin making a claim which none of the reports, not even NATO's own deceptive statements, made at the time. The mainstream, particularly US, press, are carrying this NATO version of events almost verbatim from the NATO/ISAF press release. The AP version, which is no more than a PR release for NATO, is already being picked up in its entirety by other News Agencies, including Yahoo and Xinhua.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kill Team Horror - Video Analysis

Mission In The Process Of Being Accomplished (Cough) - Petraeus

Everything on track and going fine in Afghanistan according to US Commander there. He and his predecessors have been spinning this garbage ever since 2001. It would have been bad enough then, but after 10 years of abject failure it is insulting. It is timed now to try to soften up public opinion in NATO countries and the US in particular in advance of the Taliban's Summer offensive. This will rock NATO forces and Karzai's apparatchiks for months until the Taliban feel like a rest again. 
Petraeus's customary  rose-tinted report doesn't quite square with this does it?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

US Kill Team - Morlock To Plead Guilty

A court-martial is scheduled to begin Wednesday for Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, one of several soldiers charged in an incident last year where the Army says three Afghan civilians were slain by members of the 5th Stryker Brigade operating in Kandahar province.
Once Morlock stipulates to the facts in the case, his lawyer said he would ask the court to consider the defendant's overall military record, and any mitigating factors. He said Morlock may testify in other cases related to the incidents.
Of the 12 soldiers charged in the incident, only five are charged with murder. The others faced charges such as assault and drug use. Hearings for five of the seven remaining defendants have ended, with the five being convicted, confined and likely facing discharge, several reports have said.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Der Spiegel Photos - Kill Team Horror Pics Revealed

The US has 'apologised'. No problem there, then. More than they usually do for killing innocent Afghans.
Words Fail To Describe This Savagery
Operation 'Enduring Freedom'

Morlock = A subterranean cannibal - HG Wells

US Kill Team Photos - Guardian Analysis of Der Spiegel Article

The lengthy Spiegel article that accompanies the photographs contains new details about the sadistic behaviour of the men.  (PHOTOS HERE.)
In one incident in May last year, the article says, during a patrol, the team apprehended a mullah who was standing by the road and took him into a ditch where they made him kneel down.

The group's leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, then allegedly threw a grenade at the man while an order was given for him to be shot.
Afterwards, Gibbs is described cutting off one of the man's little fingers and removing a tooth.
he patrol team later claimed to their superiors that the mullah had tried to threaten them with a grenade and that they had no choice but to shoot.
On Sunday night many organisations employing foreign staff, including the United Nations, ordered their staff into a "lockdown", banning all movements around Kabul and requiring people to remain in their compounds.
In addition to the threat from the publication of the photographs, security has been heightened amid fears the Taliban may try to attack Persian new year celebrations.
There could also be attacks because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is due to make a speech declaring which areas of the country should be transferred from international to Afghan control in the coming months.
One security manager for the US company DynCorp sent an email to clients warning that publication of the photos was likely "to incite the local population" as the "severity of the incidents to be revealed are graphic and extreme".


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Photos Depict US Soldiers With Dead Afghan Civilian

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two photographs depicting U.S. Army soldiers posing next to the corpse of an Afghan civilian moments after he was killed in an incident the Army has classified as a murder.
The photos are among several hundred the US Army has sought to keep under wraps as it prosecutes five members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for the alleged murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year. The photographs published by Der Spiegel were among those covered by a judicial protective order issued by a military judge, prohibiting their public release.
The photos were published in the print edition of the magazine scheduled for distribution Monday. An advance copy was made available to subscribers in an e-mail over the weekend.
According to the magazine, the photos show soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, posing separately next to the corpse of Gul Mudin, an unarmed Afghan civilian killed by their unit on Jan. 15, 2010.
One photo depicts Spec. Jeremy N. Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, smiling and crouching next to the bloodied corpse. The other depicts Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho, squatting next to the same body.
In a statement released Sunday, the Army called the actions depicted in the photos “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.”
“We apologize for the distress these photos cause,” the Army statement said. “The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings, in which the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
Morlock and Holmes have both been charged with murder in Mudin’s death. According to charging documents filed by Army criminal investigators, Mudin began walking toward the soldiers in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province. As the Afghan approached, Morlock threw a grenade on the ground, according to the documents, to create the illusion that the soldiers were under attack.
Holmes saw the grenade and fired his weapon at Mudin, according to charging documents. The grenade exploded, prompting other soldiers to open fire on the villager as well, killing him.
In statements to investigators, the soldiers involved have given conflicting details. In one statement that his attorney has subsequently tried to suppress, Morlock said that another soldier, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, had given him the grenade and that others were also aware of the ruse beforehand. But Holmes and his attorney said he was in the dark and opened fire only because Morlock ordered him to do so.
Morlock has pleaded guilty to three charges of murder and is scheduled to be sentenced at a court-martial Wednesday.
Geoffrey Nathan, one of Morlock’s civilian defense attorneys, said the photographs published by Der Spiegel would not affect the outcome of his case. He said that the photographs do not have a time or date stamp and that the identity of the corpse and the setting were unverifiable, calling it “mere speculation.”
But Daniel Conway, a civilian attorney for Holmes, confirmed the authenticity of the photo depicting his client, who he said “was ordered to be in the picture” by superiors in his platoon.
Conway said the photograph could help to clear Holmes of murder because Mudin’s wounds appear to have been caused exclusively by a grenade blast. Holmes is accused of shooting the Afghan man. Conway criticized the Army for trying to keep the photographs under wraps.
“The Army is spending most of their time investigating the photos rather than the murder,” he said.
In its statement, the Army noted that, in addition to the murder charges, it was also investigating whether members of the unit mistreated Afghan corpses. Some soldiers already have been charged with harboring body parts of alleged victims.
“When allegations of wrongdoing by soldiers surface, to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated,” the Army statement said. “Soldiers who commit offenses will be held fully accountable.”
A third photograph published by Der Spiegel allegedly depicts two dead, handcuffed Afghan civilians. No soldiers are included in the photo, and the magazine did not say when it was taken or how it was related to the Stryker unit.

Images De Libye

Images from the French bombing of Libya. Merci au Figaro.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Pakistani Civilians New NATO Victims

Pakistan pulled out of talks this month with the United States on the future of Afghanistan in protest of an especially deadly American missile attack, the government said Friday, in a sign of rising tensions between the two uneasy allies. Pakistan's  army chief has already criticized Thursday's missile attack on a house close to the Afghan border in a rare personal statement. Intelligence officials say about 36 people — most of them civilians — were killed. A U.S. official familiar with details denied that innocent people were targeted and suggested all the dead were militants or sympathizers. The relationship was already fraught over the case of an American CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis but was freed Wednesday, putting the weak government on the defensive against critics who accused it of selling out to the Americans.
The missile attack added to the heat on the government, which summoned U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter to protest.
"It is evident that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that did not mention how many civilians were killed. "Pakistan should not be taken for granted nor treated as a client state."
The statement said Pakistan would not attend talks proposed by the United States in Brussels on March 26. Pakistan had been scheduled to send its deputy foreign minister to the meeting, which was to include a delegation from Afghanistan.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Night Raids - Innocent Victims Multiply

NAWA, Afghanistan — It was two o’clock in the morning on Feb. 15. Mullah Abdul Khaliq, who taught at a local school here in Nawa district, was asleep with his family when the helicopters began circling overhead.
“We could not leave our houses,” said Abdullah, a neighbor of Mullah Khaliq’s. “Everyone understood that the U.S. forces were carrying out a raid somewhere, and we were all afraid. In the morning we found out that something was very wrong at the house of Mullah Khaliq.”
U.S. forces had broken into Khaliq’s house and what happened next is an all too familiar scenario to the people of this beleaguered district, which has now been caught for almost two years between the Taliban and the U.S. military.
“The wife told me that her son ran out of the house and was shot on the spot,” recounted Abdullah. “They then asked Mullah Khaliq if he was Taliban. He said ‘no we are not,’ but they searched the house and shot him in the head. His other son is missing. We saw blood, he must have been injured. His nephew, who was visiting, was also killed.”
One of Mullah Khaliq’s sons was a student at Kandahar University. The other son and the nephew were seniors in high school.
Nawa district had been under Taliban control until the summer of 2009, when the U.S. Marines went in to clear it. With overwhelming force they were able to pacify the area, driving many Taliban to Pakistan, while others simply blended back into the population.
Now this largely agricultural district, once a no-go zone rich in opium poppy, is billed as a rousing success.
“The turnaround in Nawa district over the past 20 months demonstrates what is possible in Afghanistan when all the elements of the counterinsurgency strategy come together correctly,” wrote Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a journalist with the Washington Post, in a policy brief published in March by the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies.
“Nawa now is one of the safest districts in southern Afghanistan. Marines who live at a base in the district center have not fired a single bullet while on foot patrol in the past six months. School classrooms are packed. The bazaar is thriving … COIN [counterinsurgency] strategy concentrates not on hunting down guerrillas but on protecting the civilian population from insurgents.”
But persisten night raids by U.S. Special Forces now appears to be threatening to erase that sense of security. Many civilians here said they feel like they need protection from the protectors.
The night raids, in which U.S. Special Forces target people they believe to be known insurgents for kill or capture, they say, are making everyone nervous.
“It was two in the morning when U.S. forces and the Afghan Army surrounded my house,” said one Nawa resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from U.S. forces.
“I was sleeping with my children when suddenly my wife said somebody was in the yard. They blew down our door and came into the house. I told them in broken English that there are only children and my wife here, but they took me at gunpoint and handcuffed me and put a black hood over my head. They took me to their helicopter … I didn’t know where I was, but after two weeks of interrogation I was released and I found out that I was in Garmsir.”
Garmsir is another district of Helmand, about 20 miles south of Nawa.
Maj. Timothy James, an American military spokesman at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Media Operations Center, confirmed that night raids were continuing in Nawa, but denied that they were increasing in frequency.
“Ops are ongoing,” he said. “There has been no change in operational tempo.”
According to James, the four people who were killed in Nawa the night of Feb. 15 were supporters of the insurgency. He said that the name of the target was not Mullah Khaliq, but he would not identify the actual “objective.”
“We targeted a known Taliban facilitator,” he said. “We also killed three others who posed a clear security threat.”
Daud Ahmadi, a spokesperson for the Helmand governor, said he could not comment on whether or not the family had links to the Taliban. He did not deny that the U.S. forces sometimes got it wrong.
“Raids and attacks are not 100 percent accurate,” Ahmadi said. “Often innocent people get arrested, but they are released immediately. We have operations in Nawa against the insurgents, and the enemy is also operating secretly, but that is not a concern. I assure the residents of Nawa that the Taliban are very weak now.”
According to the New York Times, Nawa has become so stable that the U.S. military is considering moving troops from there to Sangin, a district in northern Helmand that is one of the most violent in the province.
The Taliban, predictably, reject such characterizations.
“We are not weakened, we are getting stronger,” boasted Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi. “The residents want us here. The Americans arrest innocent people and torture them … if the number of their troops decreases they will not be able to spend a single day here.”
Mullah Roze, a local Taliban commander in Nawa, also portrays Taliban operations as successful. The insurgents are aided by public anger over the night raids, he adds.
“We are not afraid of the Americans,” he said. “Our teams are getting together again, because the Americans have become brutal. People are sick of this situation and they are happy that we are back.”
The Taliban mix freely with the residents of Nawa, but it is far from clear how welcoming they are. Rubbing elbows with the insurgents can be dangerous business, earning one a visit from the feared Special Ops brigades.
“The Taliban come to people’s houses every night," said Nasratullah Baheer, a doctor from Nawa. “Some welcome them, but others are afraid of the U.S. forces. Recently they carried out many night raids and arrested many innocent people.”
Abdullah, Mullah Khaliq’s neighbor, also worries.
“The Taliban are humans like us, they sit and talk with people, nobody can tell them to go away,” he said. “But that does not mean we support them. The only ones who support the Taliban are those who are wealthy enough to do so.”
Abdullah is bitter about the loss of his friend.
“The family barely had enough money to live on,” Abdullah said. “How could they support the Taliban? This is the habit of U.S. forces. They kill innocent people. Then they accuse them of having relations with Taliban. Who can prove this? I’ve been his neighbor for 10 years, if I don’t know then how can these Americans? People have disputes here and they give false information to the U.S. forces, who then kill or abduct people without any investigation.”