by Kathy Kelly
October 20, 2011
In Kabul, Afghanistan’s beleaguered capitol city, a young woman befriended me during December of 2010. She was eager to talk about her views, help us better understand the history of her country, and form lasting relationships. Now, she is too frightened to return a phone call from visiting westerners. The last time I saw her, during the spring of 2011, she was extremely anxious because, weeks earlier, U.S. Joint Special Operations Commandos (JSOC) had arrested her brother-in-law. The family has no idea how to find him. Once, someone working for the International Commission of the Red Cross called the family to say that he was still alive and in the custody of the International Security Assistance Forces, (ISAF). Numerous families in Afghanistan experience similar misery and fear after night raids that effectively “disappear” family members who are held incommunicado and sometimes turned over to Afghan National Police or the dreaded National Directorate of Security, (NDS).
An October 22, 2011 New York Times report about the findings of UN researchers who interviewed 324 Afghans detained by security forces, found that half of those who were in detention sites run by the NDS told of torture which included beatings, twisting of genitals, stress positions, suspension, and threatened sexual assault. Of the 324 interviewed, 89 had been handed over to the Afghan intelligence service or the police by U.S./NATO international military forces.
Even though high commanders in the ranks of the U.S. JSOC acknowledge that 50% of the time the night raids and drone attacks “get” the wrong person, (Washington Post, September 3, 2011), the U.S. war planners have steadily escalated reliance on these tactics.
Consider the killing of three brothers in the Nemati family who lived in the Sayyidabad village in Afghanistan’s Wardak province. Ismail, age 25, and Buranullah, age 23, had returned from their studies in Kabul to celebrate the start of Ramadan with their family in August of 2010. With their brother Faridullah, age 17, they went to the family guest room to study for exams. They were joined by their younger brother, Wahidullah, age 13.
An initial U.S. military press release on August 12th, 2010, indicated that U.S. forces had captured an important Taliban figure nearby and had taken fire from the Nemati home where they believed Taliban fighters were being hosted as guests. Indeed, two Taliban fighters had stopped at the home two days earlier, asking for food. Fearful of repercussions if they didn’t feed them, the family had given them food.