Are US Forces Executing Kids in Afghanistan? Americans Don't Even Know to Ask

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by David Lindorff:
The Shame and Folly of Obama’s AfghanWar

 

 
 

The Taliban
suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan
on a base that was directing US drone aircraft used to attack Taliban
leaders was big news in the US over the past week, with the airwaves
and front pages filled with sympathetic stories referring to the
fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed,
was the “mother of three children.”

But the apparent
mass murder of Afghan school children, including one as young as
11-years-old, by a US-led group of troops, was pretty much blacked
out in the American media. Especially blacked out was word from
UN investigators that the students had not just been killed but
executed, many of them after having first been rousted from their
bedroom and handcuffed.

Here is the
excellent report on the incident that ran in the Times
of London
(like Fox News, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication)
on Dec. 31:

Western
troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

By Jerome
Starkey in Kabul

American-led
troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from
their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten
people dead.

Afghan government
investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all
but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims
were handcuffed before being killed.

Western military
sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist
cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices
(IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and
civilians.

“This
was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that
Afghan and US officials had been developing information against
for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted
that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.

The article
goes on to say:

In a telephone
interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said
that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived.
“Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas.
“A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room,
and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First
the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them.
Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students.
Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting
and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He
was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

A local elder,
Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and
five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their
school books covered in blood,” he said.

The investigation
found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest
was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said.
He said that six of the students were at high school and two were
at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.

Compare this
article to the one mention of the incident which appeared in the

New York Times
, one of the few American news outlets
to even mention the incident. The Times, on Dec. 28, focusing entirely
on the difficulty civilian killings cause for the US war effort,
and not on the allegation of a serious war crime having been committed,
wrote:

Attack
Puts Afghan Leader and NATO at Odds

By Alissa
J. Rubin and Abdul Waheed Wafa

KABUL, Afghanistan
– The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of
eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American
forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at
odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or
Taliban insurgents.

In a statement
e-mailed to the news media, Mr. Karzai condemned the weekend attack
and said the dead had been civilians, eight of them schoolboys.
He called for an investigation.

Local officials,
including the governor and members of Parliament from Kunar Province,
where the deaths occurred, confirmed the reports. But the Kunar
police chief, Khalilullah Ziayee, cautioned that his office was
still investigating the killings and that outstanding questions
remained, including why the eight young men had been in the same
house at the time.

“There
are still questions to be answered, like why these students were
together and what they were doing on that night,” Mr. Ziayee
said.

A senior
NATO official with knowledge of the operation said that the raid
had been carried out by a joint Afghan-American force and that
its target was a group of men who were known Taliban members and
smugglers of homemade bombs, which the American and NATO forces
call improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s.

According
to the NATO official, nine men were killed. “These were people
who had a well-established network, they were I.E.D. smugglers
and also were responsible for direct attacks on Afghan security
and coalition forces in those areas,” said the official,
who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy
of the issue.

“When
the raid took place they were armed and had material for making
I.E.D.’s,” the official added.

While the
article in the New York Times eventually mentions the allegation
that the victims were children, not u201Cmen,u201D it nonetheless begins
with the unchallenged assertion in the lead that they were u201Cmen.u201D
There is no mention of the equally serious allegation that the victims
had been handcuffed before being executed, and the story leaves
the impression, made by NATO sources, that they were armed and had
died fighting. There is no indication in the Times story that the
reporters made any effort, as the more enterprising and skeptical
London Times reporter did, to get local, non-official, sources of
information. Moreover, the information claiming that the victims
had been making bombs was attributed by Rubin and Wafa, with no
objections from their editors in New York, to an anonymous NATO
source, though there was no legitimate reason for the anonymity
(u201Cbecause of the delicacy of the situationu201D was the lame excuse
offered) – indeed the use of an anonymous source here would
appear to violate the Times' own standards.

Read
the rest of the article

January
4, 2010

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