Afghanistan

Report details abuse, torture of prisoners by US forces in Afghanistan

By Joseph Kay, 10 March 2004

A report released over the weekend by Human Rights Watch, entitled “Enduring Freedom: Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan,” details illegal and abusive treatment meted out by US troops against prisoners captured as part of the American government’s ongoing operations in Afghanistan. The report examines cases of indiscriminate and excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, and mistreatment in detention, including torture.

US launches huge military operation to capture bin Laden

By Mike Head, 1 March 2004

In a desperate bid to produce a public relations “success” in the war on terrorism before the US presidential election, the Bush administration is orchestrating a major land and air military offensive on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, with the professed aim of capturing top Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

Rising death toll undermines the White House’s rosy picture of Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2004

A series of incidents in Afghanistan over the past week has highlighted the continuing resistance to the US-led occupation of the country and the mounting number of casualties. Far from being the “success story” that the Bush administration would like to claim, the country remains wracked by ongoing civil war, immense social problems and a lack of basic democratic rights.

US forces kill 11 more civilians in Afghanistan

By David Walsh, 20 January 2004

US military forces killed 11 civilians in southern Afghanistan early Sunday morning, according to Afghan officials. Abdul Rahman, chief of Char Chino district, 200 miles south of the capital Kabul, told reporters that a US helicopter attacked a group of people in the village of Saghatho, resulting in the deaths of four children, three women and four men.

US-imposed “democracy” in Afghanistan

Loya jirga rubber-stamps autocratic regime

By Mike Head, 8 January 2004

After more than three weeks of cajoling, back-room haggling and standover tactics, the 502 largely unelected delegates to the United States-orchestrated loya jirga, or grand tribal council, in Afghanistan this week endorsed a constitution aimed at strengthening the crumbling position of Washington’s handpicked interim president, Hamid Karzai.

Afghanistan’s loya jirga convened to rubber-stamp an anti-democratic constitution

By Peter Symonds, 18 December 2003

The loya jirga or grand tribal council currently underway in the Afghan capital of Kabul is a thoroughly cynical political exercise. For all the hype about consulting the Afghan people, a select group of 500 delegates has been convened to endorse an undemocratic constitution and to consolidate the position of Washington’s political puppet—President Hamid Karzai.

US military kills six Afghan children in new atrocity

By David Walsh, 13 December 2003

US forces killed six children and two adults when they attacked a farm compound in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province December 5. The eight people were sleeping when American troops launched an air and ground assault in the middle of the night, knocking down a wall and crushing them. The compound allegedly contained a cache of weapons.

Rumsfeld in Mazar-i-Sharif

A war criminal visits the scene of the crime

By Kate Randall, 10 December 2003

Donald Rumsfeld rode into Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan last Thursday as part of his fourth trip to the war-torn country since the fall of the Taliban regime. The US defense secretary’s 35-vehicle cavalcade rode into the desert town on a dusty highway alongside donkey carts and bicycles to meet up with two Afghan warlords for a two-hour visit.

US air strike kills nine children in Afghanistan

By Bill Vann, 8 December 2003

A US air attack aimed at assassinating an anti-government militant claimed the lives of nine children Saturday in Afghanistan. The massacre took place in Ghazni province, about 100 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Afghanistan: escalating opposition to the US occupation

By Peter Symonds, 27 November 2003

A series of recent incidents in Afghanistan have highlighted the precarious position of the US military in the country. While the level of armed attacks is not the same as in Iraq, there is nevertheless growing resistance, to the military presence of the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

German government sends more troops to Afghanistan

By Ulrich Rippert, 4 September 2003

The recent decision by the German government to increase the number of German troops deployed in Afghanistan and transfer 250 soldiers to the city of Konduz in the north of the country is directly bound up with increasing Afghan resistance to the American occupation.

US launches military offensive to crush growing Afghan opposition

By Peter Symonds, 29 August 2003

In reply to a sharply rising level of guerrilla attacks, US and Afghan forces launched large-scale operations on Monday against armed opposition militia in the south east of Afghanistan. The attacks and the repressive response underscore the growing hostility and resistance to the US-led military occupation of the country and its client regime in Kabul.

Afghanistan: Report documents violence and repression by US-backed warlords

By James Conachy, 2 August 2003

The 102-page report on Afghanistan issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on July 29 catalogs the systematic violation of human rights by the militias of the Northern Alliance who were placed in power following the US invasion in late 2001.

Anti-US protest reveals depth of Afghanistan’s social and political crisis

By Peter Symonds, 8 May 2003

Several hundred Afghans chanting “Death to Bush” and “Long Live Islam” marched through Kabul on Tuesday in the first demonstration explicitly against the US military occupation of the country. The protest revealed the deep hostility and resentment of broad layers of the population to the country’s appalling social conditions and the broken promises of the US and its allies to alleviate the situation.

US military kills 11 civilians in ongoing war in Afghanistan

By Ben Nichols and Peter Symonds, 12 April 2003

More than a year after the fall of the Taliban regime, American forces and their Afghan allies are waging a brutal, little-reported war aimed at stamping out opposition to the US-installed regime in Kabul.

Continuing civilian deaths in US operations in Afghanistan

By Ben Nichols, 19 March 2003

More than a year after the US military invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime with the aid of its Northern Alliance allies, over 7,000 US troops remain in the country engaged in operations purportedly aimed at rooting out “Al Qaeda/Taliban remnants”. These operations, which continue to add to the toll of civilian casualties, receive scant media coverage.

In German TV documentary:

Afghan officials confirm US role in massacre of Taliban prisoners

By Stefan Steinberg, 17 March 2003

On March 6, the German television programme Panorama presented fresh evidence implicating US troops in the massacre of Taliban prisoners during the 2001 war in Afghanistan. Shown on the ARD channel, the programme presented footage, including interviews with two Afghan government ministers who confirmed the presence of American troops during the transportation and killing of surrendered Taliban prisoners.

US tortures two detainees to death in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 10 March 2003

New evidence has emerged that the US military has tortured to death at least two of the detainees held at its special interrogation centre at the Bagram Air Base, just north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. At any one time, up to 100 prisoners are being held without charge at the base and subjected to various forms of humiliation, disorientation and physical hardship in order to break their resistance to questioning.

Afghan President Karzai back in Washington—and few take notice

By Patrick Martin, 8 March 2003

It is a rule of thumb in Hollywood that most sequels fare poorly compared to the initial film. Apparently that rule also applies to other stage-managed productions, like last week’s visit to Washington by Afghan’s interim president, Hamid Karzai.

Afghan Massacre—Convoy of Death available on video

Film exposing Pentagon war crimes premieres in US

By Bill Vann, 12 February 2003

A powerful film exposing the US role in the massacre of thousands of unarmed prisoners of war in Afghanistan was shown for the first time in the United States February 6.

Signs of growing opposition:

US launches large military operation in southern Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2003

Serious fighting in south-eastern Afghanistan this week has highlighted the existence of continuing armed resistance to the US occupation of the country, which in turn reflects a broader hostility and opposition to the American presence.

New revelations about Guantanamo Bay prisoners

By Richard Phillips, 3 January 2003

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times reports that at least 10 percent of the 625 war prisoners captured in Afghanistan and now held at the notorious US naval base prison in Guantanamo Bay have “no meaningful connection” with the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

New account of US torture of Afghan and Arab prisoners

By Patrick Martin, 30 December 2002

A leading US newspaper published an extensive account December 26 of the methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency in interrogating prisoners captured in Afghanistan. The techniques employed—mainly at a top security facility inside Bagram air base outside Kabul—include many which are classified as torture by international human rights groups.

German TV airs documentary charging American war crimes in Afghanistan

US State Department denounces broadcast

By Stefan Steinberg, 21 December 2002

The US State Department has reacted angrily to the showing of a documentary on German television alleging that US soldiers were involved in war crimes in Afghanistan. The film, Massacre in Afghanistan—Did the Americans Look On?, was produced by Irish filmmaker Jamie Doran. It was shown December 18 on one of the main German public channels—ARD. The 45-minute documentary had previously been shown by the British Channel 5 and the Italian station RAI.

Detainee dies during US interrogation in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 11 December 2002

US authorities last week reported that one of the detainees being held by the military for interrogation at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan had died. Almost nothing is known about who he was, why he was detained or the circumstances surrounding his death.

A year after the fall of Kabul

Afghanistan mired in poverty, insecurity and despotic rule

By Peter Symonds, 30 November 2002

It is a year since the US drove the Taliban regime from power and installed Hamid Karzai as head of an interim administration. The whole process was sanctified at a UN conference of handpicked Afghan “representatives” convened in late November at the Petersberg Castle, a luxury hotel outside the German city of Bonn. There was no shortage of high-blown rhetoric at the time, proclaiming a new period of peace, prosperity and democracy in Afghanistan.

Afghan police shoot student protesters

By Peter Symonds, 14 November 2002

As many as four students are dead and others were seriously injured on Monday night after police in Kabul opened fire with automatic weapons on hundreds of demonstrators protesting over the appalling conditions in their university dormitories. The protest reportedly erupted when students found that, after observing the traditional Muslim Ramadan fast during daylight hours, food for the evening meal had run out.

US military scapegoats pilots over “friendly fire” deaths in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 18 September 2002

In what amounts to a cynical exercise in scapegoating, the US Air Force announced last Friday its intention to charge two F-16 pilots over the deaths of four Canadian soldiers and the injury of eight others in a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan on April 17. Major Harry Schmidt and Major William Umbach each face four charges of involuntary manslaughter, eight of aggravated assault and one of dereliction of duty. If court-martialed and found guilty, each could face up to 64 years in jail and the loss of all pay and allowances. Only once before—in Iraq in 1994—have US military personnel been prosecuted over a “friendly fire” incident in a combat zone.

A blatant cover-up: US releases report on Afghan massacre

By Peter Symonds, 12 September 2002

Two months after a US AC-130 gunship slaughtered participants at a wedding party in the Afghan village of Kakarak, the US Central Command has finally released an “unclassified executive summary” of the official investigation into the incident. According to the Afghan government, 48 people, mainly women and children, lost their lives during the attack in the early hours of July 1, and another 117 were injured.

Afghan puppet government shaken by twin attacks

By Patrick Martin, 7 September 2002

The US-installed government of Afghanistan has been staggered by two violent attacks delivered only three hours apart. A powerful car bomb killed dozens of people on a busy shopping street in Kabul about 3 p.m., Thursday, September 5. Just after 6 p.m. the same day, interim President Hamid Karzai narrowly escaped assassination in Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan.

Newsweek exposé of war crimes in Afghanistan whitewashes US role

By Kate Randall, 4 September 2002

The August 26 edition of Newsweek carries a special report entitled “The Death Convoy of Afghanistan.” An underline on the front cover of the magazine reads: “In November, America’s Afghan Allies Suffocated Hundreds of Surrendering Taliban Prisoners in Sealed Cargo Containers. Where Were US Forces?”

CNN documentary on Mazar-i-Sharif prison revolt: film footage documents US war crimes

By Kate Randall, 17 August 2002

“House of War: The Uprising at Marzar-e-Sharif,” broadcast August 3 on CNN, documents the events at the Qala-i-Janghi prison fortress in northern Afghanistan last November. Broadcasting footage shot by German, American and other film crews, much of which has never been seen by a US audience, the program records events that, by their conclusion, would leave at least 400 captured Taliban soldiers dead.

Washington relies on a network of paid warlords in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 2 August 2002

There is no shortage of reports in the international media describing the political and social chaos that exists in Afghanistan. It is a commonplace to refer to the anarchic situation in the country, where an array of feuding warlords, militia commanders and tribal chiefs, with only nominal adherence to Kabul, are intent on establishing their own domains—large and small—at the expense of their rivals.

Evidence points to US cover-up of Afghan massacre

By Peter Symonds, 1 August 2002

Further information has come to light this week that undermines the credibility of the US military’s account of its attack on the Afghan village of Kakarak. According to local officials, 54 civilians were killed and more than 100 wounded when an American AC-130 gunship opened fire in the early hours of July 1. Despite all its efforts, the Pentagon has been unable to bury the incident.

Persecution of ethnic Pashtuns continues in northern Afghanistan

By Ben Nichols and Peter Symonds, 26 July 2002

Persistent reports from a number of human rights organisations have catalogued the widespread persecution of ethnic Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan over the past nine months since the fall of the Taliban regime. The militia of the Northern Alliance, backed by the US, seized control of the area, including the main northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, in November as the Taliban forces crumbled.

Washington provides troops to protect its political puppet in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 25 July 2002

Nothing underscores the beleaguered and dependent character of the Afghan administration so much as the decision this week to replace the Afghan troops guarding transitional president Hamid Karzai with a squad of 45 to 50 American soldiers, including Special Forces troops.

Mounting anger over US atrocities in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 22 July 2002

Three weeks after an American AC-130 gunship killed and injured more than 100 civilians in the small Afghan village of Kakarak, US military officials have refused to admit that the raid was a mistake or to rule out similar actions in the future. The massacre and the dismissive attitude of US officials have added to the mounting anger among ethnic Pashtuns in Uruzgan and neighbouring provinces in the country’s south and east.

Another murky political intrigue

Afghan vice-president murdered in broad daylight

By Peter Symonds, 9 July 2002

The murder of Afghan Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir, who was gunned down in broad daylight in the middle of Kabul on Saturday, provides a glimpse into the murky world of political intrigue and thuggery that surrounds the newly installed administration of transitional president Hamid Karzai.

Anti-US protest in Kabul: a sign of wider anger in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 6 July 2002

The slaughter of at least 45 civilians by US warplanes in a raid in central Uruzgan province on Monday has prompted the first anti-US demonstration in Kabul. Around 200 Afghans, many of them women clad in traditional burqas, marched through the street bringing mid-morning traffic to a halt on Wednesday, to protest against the rising toll of civilian casualties. Most of the dead and injured in the latest incident were women and young children who were guests at a wedding celebration in the small village of Kakarak.

US warplanes massacre villagers in central Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 3 July 2002

The bombing of the village of Kararak in central Afghanistan in the early hours of Monday morning adds another tragic chapter to the long list of criminal acts carried out by the US military since its invasion of the country last October.

An unstable new administration undemocratically installed in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 1 July 2002

Afghanistan’s transitional administration was sworn in on June 24 at a brief ceremony in the grounds of the presidential palace. It is a large unstable mix of appointees designed to appease a myriad of competing factional interests. None of the 29 ministers were elected—either directly or indirectly. The country’s transitional president Hamid Karzai chose all of them after days of intriguing and backroom horse-trading involving various factional leaders and representatives of the UN and major powers.

Further evidence of a massacre of Taliban prisoners

By Peter Schwarz, 29 June 2002

New reports from a human rights organisation and the German press have substantiated charges that US troops, aided by local and international allies, massacred thousands of defenceless Taliban in the course of the war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s loya jirga fails to provide even the illusion of democracy

By Peter Symonds, 24 June 2002

Afghanistan’s loya jirga or grand tribal assembly, which wound up on June 19, has proved to be a dismal failure for its organisers. It was not so much that the nine-day gathering of 1,600 delegates did not complete the formal tasks allotted at the UN-organised conference on Afghanistan in Bonn last December. These arrangements were always going to be decided behind the scenes by the chief powerbrokers in Afghanistan—the US and other major powers—in league with their local political servants.

US bullying and threats at Afghanistan’s loya jirga

By Peter Symonds, 15 June 2002

Afghanistan’s loya jirga or grand tribal council, currently in session in Kabul, was never intended to provide anything more than a thin veneer of democracy for an Afghan administration beholden politically and economically to the major powers, above all to the US. But as the gathering was about to convene this week, what was prepared as a piece of political theatre rapidly descended into farce.

Central Asia gas deal underscores the real reasons for the Afghan war

By Peter Symonds, 6 June 2002

A little publicised agreement signed in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad last week has highlighted once again the real motives behind the US military intervention into Afghanistan—access to and domination of Central Asian oil and gas.

More questions about whom Australian troops are killing in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 28 May 2002

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Prisoners of war held in horrific conditions in Afghan jails

By Ben Nichols, 27 May 2002

Months after their capture, thousands of Afghan and Pakistani prisoners of war are still being held in appalling conditions in Afghan jails. Most are in overcrowded cells, are badly underfed and lack access to elementary hygiene facilities and health care. Diseases such as tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, pneumonia and hepatitis are widespread. An unknown number of prisoners have died.

Two more cases of coldblooded murder in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 20 May 2002

A major military operation involving US, British, Australian and other troops has been underway in eastern Afghanistan, in addition to ongoing patrols by various special forces units throughout the area. What these soldiers are doing is shrouded in a cloak of official secrecy. Every now and then, however, a report leaks out that confirms a trend—those being killed are not “Al Qaeda” or “Taliban” but ordinary villagers and tribesmen whose deaths are treated with a mixture of indifference and contempt.

Afghanistan’s loya jirga: a cynical exercise in neo-colonialism

By Peter Symonds, 15 May 2002

In the 19th century, the European colonial powers that carved up the world between them devised all manner of ruses to disguise their despotic control over countries, resources and peoples. The British in particular became masters at bribing or bullying local rulers, playing on ethnic and religious divisions and exploiting indigenous customs and rituals to achieve their own ends.

The CIA attempts political assassination in Afghanistan

By Peter Symonds, 11 May 2002

The US administration has, for the first time, openly attempted to assassinate a major political opponent of the interim Afghan administration of Hamid Karzai. The attempt represents a marked shift in US tactics that underscores both the fragility of the Karzai regime and Washington’s determination to prop it up by any means, including the murder of any potential challengers.

Kabul police raids aimed at intimidating political opposition

By Peter Symonds, 6 April 2002

A series of police round-ups in Kabul over the last week have the character of a crude witchhunt aimed at silencing the political opponents of the US-backed interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai. The vague, contradictory and unsubstantiated nature of the accusations and the lack of detail about those detained simply confirm this conclusion.

Murder of an Afghan minister reveals a weak, divided government

By Peter Symonds, 19 February 2002

The killing of Afghanistan’s Tourism and Aviation Minister Abdul Rahman at Kabul airport last Thursday evening has highlighted the fractious and unstable character of the interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai.

Afghan death toll mounts as US warplanes hit civilian targets

By Patrick Martin, 23 October 2001

As many as a hundred people were killed when US and British warplanes bombed and destroyed a hospital in the western Afghan city of Herat, the ruling Taliban government in Kabul claimed Monday. The Pentagon did not initially deny the report, which came after some of the heaviest air raids of the 16-day war, on the night of October 21-22. Doctors, nurses and patients were said to be among the dead.

Civilian death toll mounts in Afghanistan

By Julie Hyland, 19 October 2001

The US bombardment of Afghanistan has resulted in an estimated 300 civilian deaths, and hundreds of injuries. Moreover, a United Nations spokesperson described the humanitarian crisis in the country as “the most serious, complex emergency in the world ever”.

Civilian casualties mount in Afghanistan

By Kate Randall, 13 October 2001

Many news sources report mounting civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the US launched air strikes against the country last Sunday. The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reports that more than 250 civilians have been killed so far, while the Taliban says casualties have surpassed 300. USA Today reports that Western diplomats in Pakistan have received unconfirmed reports from aid workers in Afghanistan that the number may be far higher, and rising with each day’s air raids.

US food drops: a cynical propaganda exercise

By Terry Cook, 12 October 2001

Claims by the US government that its food drops over Afghanistan are aimed at feeding the hungry and demonstrating to Afghanis that the military bombardment is not directed against them are utterly cynical.

A humanitarian catastrophe in the making in Afghanistan

By our correspondents, 25 September 2001

Whatever form the military assault being prepared by the US and its allies against Afghanistan takes, a humanitarian crisis is already under way in the impoverished country, which has been ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, drought and a long legacy of economic backwardness and deprivation.

The political roots of the terror attack on New York and Washington

By David North and David Walsh, 12 September 2001

We are republishing the World Socialist Web Site’s analysis, first posted on September 12, 2001, of the 9/11 terror attacks that killed over 3,000 people and became the pretext for launching the “War on Terror.”

After the hijacking: British government, media demand deportation of Afghanis

By Chris Marsden, 11 February 2000

The Afghan hostage crisis at London's Stansted Airport ended yesterday morning with the release of all the 151 plus passengers and the arrest of 19 people.

Afghan hijacking in fourth day at London's Stansted airport

By Chris Marsden, 9 February 2000

The third day of the Afghan hostage crisis ended dramatically with the escape of four people through the cockpit window at the front of the plane. Earlier in the day, the hijackers released a ninth person who was allowed off the seized jumbo jet after he complained of feeling unwell.