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US Accused in Civilian Shootings in Afghanistan

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While the US media has not yet paid much attention to the story, international sources are buzzing with concern over accusations made to the United Nations that US forces were involved in the execution-style killing of a group of Afghan students in the village of Ghazi Khan in the Kunar province of Eastern Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has initiated an investigation of the attack which took place last Sunday.

The details from various sources are contradictory, but it appears that in response to reports of an al Qaeda cell in Ghazi Khan which was manufacturing and deploying IEDs in the area, a joint force of US and Afghan forces were taken by helicopter to the village at night. They infiltrated the village and located a house where two teachers and eight students between the ages of 10 and 15 were gathered. They entered the house and shot the two teachers, then handcuffed the students and then either shot them in the building and took the bodies outside or took them outside and shot them there.

Important details of the story are unclear. Some reports describe the students as children, but photographs of the victims suggest that they were at least in their mid-teens and possibly older, and it is certainly not unprecedented for teenagers to be involved in terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Also not answered is the question of whether IED materials were found in the house which was raided. There are also questions about whether the forces involved were primarily Americans or Afghan soldiers, and exactly who was responsible for the killings.

The most serious concern about this incident is not the age of the civilians killed, but the fact that they seem to have been effectively executed after they had been subdued, which is a clear violation of US military protocol and the Geneva Convention. Also at issue is the general rise in civilian casualties in Iraq and accusations that US forces may be engaging in reprisals for the deaths of seven CIA operatives in a suicide bombing last week.

Further investigation is called for, and not just from the Afghan government and the United Nations. The US government and media should take a proactive role in getting to the bottom of these events and making the results of the investigation public.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Dave,

    Strangely not much more is coming out about this story.

    I don’t find that very strange. You happened across this one. There are plenty that you don’t happen across that get the same treatment. Last year do you recall reading about the US soldier who committed suicide because she had engaged in/was expected to engage in torture? Do you recall other murders by US soldiers?

    You’d be surprised also I bet by how many female military members are raped by male members. Would you be shocked to hear that one in three females is sexually abused by males in the military, when trapped while alone in a latrine, etc. That figure is the US govt figure.

  • Irene Wagner

    OK Dave Nalle and Ruvy, thankyou. Keep your ears to the ground…

  • Irene, like Ruvy I’m just waiting to hear more. Strangely not much more is coming out about this story.


  • Well, folks, I made my commentary, and I’m waiting for some more updates on the news story….

  • Irene Wagner

    I liked your article BECAUSE it reported the news without commentary. I was under the temporary illusion that you thought that bringing this horror to people’s attention would be commentary enough. I was disappointed to read your commentary after your commentary-less article.

    I’ve made my commentary, and it probably didn’t surprise you. No point making it again.

  • Irene, all I did was report the basic facts of this incident. It’s a news article.

    Children get killed and turned into fighters in a war. The problem is that it’s a war.


  • Irene Wagner

    It’s not lookin’ good for human nature right now.

  • Irene Wagner

    Dave Nalle, I thought you were going to go in a different direction with this article, the direction Tom Carter went in The Afghanistan Train Wreck. He sees what is happening to children there in a different light, while still remaining I’m looking for the right word…not pragmatic….maybe, compassionately realistic.

  • 7 of them are definitely over the age of 15 based on size and facial hair.

    Oh, well that’s all right, then.

  • Note: Children as young as 10 years old were chanting death to America.

    Which would fit in with my hypothesis that even pre-teens can potentially be terrorists.

    BTW, I’ve now seen pictures of most of the bodies from the attack. 7 of them are definitely over the age of 15 based on size and facial hair.

    I want to make a note of this for the future. Because as I have pointed out in the past, the USA is creating future Afghan terrorists. It’s just a point of reference for some future discussion.

    Of course, there aren’t really any Afghan terrorists now and haven’t been in the past. The 9/11 attackers included no Afghans and none of the subsequent terror attacks in the US have been carried out by Afghans.


  • Thanks for the update, Cindy. It will be interesting when the TSA goons in the States get the “shoot on sight/site” order from the higher-ups – and then when they start to arrest bloggers for reporting on it.

    I would say “so much for the good war”, but the United States often murders “wogs” in foreign countries because that is how they are regarded – as wogs whose lives have no value. Then the medics get to clean up the damage – not just the wounds but the damaged rep the US creates for itself.

    Then the American government, which carries its brutality far beyond its own border, dares excoriate us for attempting to protect ourselves against the terrorists its training, funding and propaganda have helped create. You richly deserve the TSA border goons, who are giving you a small dose of the shit you regularly dish out to the world.

  • What is the “gift-antigift” idea, Roger?

  • It’s the “gift-antigift” idea, Cindy.

  • Just found your article a couple hours ago, Dave. Here is some more information. It appears, if this Times of London writer is correct, that all but one child was from the same family and their ages ranged from 11 to 17, with the non-family member being 12.

    Quotes from the Times of London article:

    Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

    “At around 1 am, three nights ago, some American troops with helicopters left Kabul and landed around 2km away from the village,” he told The Times. “The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire.” Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”

    In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster 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. In Jalalabad, protesters set alight a US flag and an effigy of President Obama after chanting “Death to Obama” and “Death to foreign forces”. In Kabul, protesters held up banners showing photographs of dead children alongside placards demanding “Foreign troops leave Afghanistan” and “Stop killing us”.


    Hekmatullah, 10, a protester, said: “We’re sick of Americans bombing us.” Samiullah Miakhel, 60, a protester. said: “The Americans are just all the time killing civilians.”

    End of Quotes

    Note: Children as young as 10 years old were chanting death to America. I want to make a note of this for the future. Because as I have pointed out in the past, the USA is creating future Afghan terrorists. It’s just a point of reference for some future discussion.

  • Yes, it is a helluva glitch – thanks to the Bush regime and the proclivity for privatizing what ought to be proper governmental functions.

  • “if U.S. personnel are responsible for intentionally killing non-combatants who presented no threat, they’ll be prosecuted.”

    too bad “contractors” aren’t held to the same standard

  • I tend to doubt that U.S. forces were involved in or responsible for an incident like this. Everyone needs to wait until the facts are known. Certain agenda-driven media sources always shout about these kinds of things even before the details of what happened are known, and that’s what appears to be happening now.

    One thing is certain — if U.S. personnel are responsible for intentionally killing non-combatants who presented no threat, they’ll be prosecuted. That’s as it should be.

  • Okay Dave,

    Now that we’ve established that Lisa is not a distorted angel at all, but a real one come to earth, are there any updates to this newsflash?


  • Ruvy

    Lisa did get to the article quick. I checked back not ten minutes after posting my comment, and it was fixed. Nice job, Lisa!!

  • I believe in the magic of Lisa.

    But I do yearn for a preview function in the editor…


  • Oops!

  • Or maybe I got here quickly and fixed the last link, which was wide open.

  • No problems here either, Ruvy. Perhaps your IP is blocking al-Jazeera…?

  • Ruvy, as far as I can tell the links work fine.


  • Ruvy


    Obviously you were in a hurry in typing this. Go and fix the links in the story.

    Maybe I should be a political editor….