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US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan (photos + video)

by : Jerome Starkey
Friday April 9, 2010 - 00:09
5 comments
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by Jerome Starkey

US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.

Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.

The claims were made as Nato admitted responsibility for all the deaths for the first time last night. It had initially claimed that the women had been dead for several hours when the assault force discovered their bodies.

“Despite earlier reports we have determined that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Nato spokesman. The coalition continued to deny that there had been a cover-up and said that its legal investigation, which is ongoing, had found no evidence of inappropriate conduct.

The Kabul headquarters of General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and Nato forces, claimed originally that the women had been “tied up, gagged and killed”.

A senior Afghan official involved in a government investigation told The Times: “I think the special forces lied to McChrystal.”

“Why did the special forces collect their bullets from the area?” the official said. “They washed the area of the injuries with alcohol and brought out the bullets from the dead bodies. The bodies showed there were big holes.”

The official, who asked not to be named until the results of the investigation have been made public, said that the assault force sealed off the compound from 4am, when the raid started, to 11am, when Afghan officials from Gardez were finally allowed access to the house.

At least 11 bullets were fired during the raid, the investigator said, and the shooting was carried out by two American gunmen positioned on the roof of the compound. Only seven bullets were recovered from the scene.

“I asked McChrystal, ‘why did the Americans clean some of the bullets from the area?’ They don’t have the right to do that,” the official said.

Haji Sharabuddin, the head of the family who were attacked, told The Times last month that troops removed bullets from his relatives’ bodies, but his claims were impossible to verify. The hallway where four of the five victims were killed had been repainted and at least two bullet holes had been plastered over.

Video footage of the raid’s aftermath, collected by Afghan investigators, shows close-up shots of one man’s bloodstained and punctured torso and walls with blood on them. The Afghan official’s conclusion that the bullets were removed is based on the testimony of survivors, analysis of the photographs and the missing bullets.

Nato promised a joint forensic investigation in a statement issued after the raid, but Rear Admiral Greg Smith, the coalition’s director of communications in Afghanistan, said that this had proved impossible because the bodies were buried the same day in accordance with Islamic custom.

Instead Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior sent its top criminal investigator from Kabul, and a Canadian brigadier-general led a separate military inquiry.

The Afghan investigation differed in one respect from The Times’ findings. Survivors told this newspaper that Saranwal Zahir, the police officer’s brother, was shot when he tried to shout that his family was innocent. The women, who were crouching behind him, were killed in the same volley of fire. Afghan investigators believe that Mr Zahir was carrying an AK47 and wanted to avenge his brother’s killers. The women were clustered around him, trying to pull him inside the house, when the second US gunman opened fire, killing all four of them.

Footage collected by the Afghan team also shows a man in United States Army uniform taking pictures of the bodies. The findings have not been made public. The Interior Ministry is expected to pass a report to the Attorney-General’s office, which will decide whether or not it can press criminal charges.

The family had more than 25 guests on the night of the attack, as well as three musicians, to celebrate the naming of a newborn child.

“In what culture in the world do you invite ... people for a party and meanwhile kill three women?” asked the senior official. “The dead bodies were just eight metres from where they were preparing the food. The Americans, they told us the women were dead for 14 hours.”

In a statement yesterday, Brigadier-General Eric Tremblay, a Nato spokesman, said: “We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families.

“The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taleban insurgent, and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety. We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ne...

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US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan
Friday April 9 - 00:41 - Posted by 79203a80077424a8...

March 13, 2010

Nato ‘covered up’ botched night raid in Afghanistan that killed five

by Jerome Starkey

A night raid carried out by US and Afghan gunmen led to the deaths of two pregnant women, a teenage girl and two local officials in an atrocity which Nato then tried to cover up, survivors have told The Times.

The operation on Friday, February 12, was a botched pre-dawn assault on a policeman’s home a few miles outside Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, eastern Afghanistan. In a statement after the raid titled “Joint force operating in Gardez makes gruesome discovery”, Nato claimed that the force had found the women’s bodies “tied up, gagged and killed” in a room.

A Times investigation suggests that Nato’s claims are either wilfully false or, at best, misleading. More than a dozen survivors, officials, police chiefs and a religious leader interviewed at and around the scene of the attack maintain that the perpetrators were US and Afghan gunmen. The identity and status of the soldiers is unknown.

The raid came more than a fortnight after the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan issued new guidelines designed to limit the use of night raids. Special forces and Western intelligence agencies that run covert operations in Afghanistan have been criticised for night raids based on dubious or false intelligence leading to civilian casualties.

The first person to die in the assault was Commander Dawood, 43, a long-serving, popular and highly-trained policeman who had recently been promoted to head of intelligence in one of Paktia’s most volatile districts. His brother, Saranwal Zahir, was a prosecutor in Ahmadabad district. He was killed while he stood in a doorway trying to protest their innocence.

Three women crouching in a hallway behind him were hit by the same volley of fire. Bibi Shirin, 22, had four children under the age of 5. Bibi Saleha, 37, had 11 children. Both of them, according to their relatives, were pregnant. They were killed instantly.

The men’s mother, Bibi Sabsparie, said that Shirin was four months pregnant and Saleha was five months. The other victim, Gulalai, 18, was engaged. She was wounded and later died. “We had already bought everything for the wedding,” her soon-to-be father-in-law, Sayed Mohammed Mal, the Vice-Chancellor of Gardez University, said.

On the night of the attack about 25 male friends and relatives had gathered at Commander Dawood’s compound in Khataba, a small village, to celebrate the naming of a newborn boy. Sitting together along the walls of a guest room, the men had taken turns dancing while musicians played. Mohammed Sediq Mahmoudi, 24, the singer, said that at some time after 3am one of the musicians, Dur Mohammed, went outside to go to the toilet. “Someone shone a light on his face and he ran back inside and said the Taleban were outside,” Mr Sediq said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Zamarud Zazai, the Gardez head of police intelligence, said: “Both sides thought the other group was Taleban.” Commander Dawood ran towards the family quarters with his son Sediqullah, 15. Halfway across the courtyard they were shot by a gunman on the roof. Commander Dawood was killed. Sediqullah, his uncles said, was hit twice but survived.

The shooting stopped and the soldiers shouted in Pashto for everyone to come outside. Waheedullah, an ambulance driver, said that their accents sounded Kandahari.

Nato said that the troops were part of a joint “Afghan-international” force but, despite new rules requiring them to leave leaflets identifying their unit, the family said they left nothing. Local US forces denied any involvement.

In the hallway on the other side of the compound, women poured in to tend to the casualties. Commander Dawood’s mother said: “Zahir shouted, ‘don’t fire, we work for the Government’. But while he was talking they fired again. I saw him fall down. I turned around and saw my daughter-in-law and the other women were dead.”

Mohammed Sabir, 26, the youngest brother of Commander Dawood and Zahir, was one of eight men arrested and flown to a base in neighbouring Paktika province. They were held for four days and interrogated by an American in civilian clothes who showed them pictures of their suspect. “I said, ‘Yes, it’s Shamsuddin. He was at the party. Why didn’t you arrest him?’ ” Sabir said. After they were released without charge Shamsuddin — who had spent five months fixing generators at the local American base — turned himself in for questioning. He, too, was released without charge.

Nato’s original statement said: “Several insurgents engaged the joint force in a firefight and were killed.” The family maintain that no one threw so much as a stone. Rear Admiral Greg Smith, Nato’s director of communications in Kabul, denied that there had been any attempt at a cover-up.

He said that both the men who were killed were armed and showing “hostile intent” but admitted “they were not the targets of this particular raid”.

“I don’t know if they fired any rounds,” he said. “If you have got an individual stepping out of a compound, and if your assault force is there, that is often the trigger to neutralise the individual. You don’t have to be fired upon to fire back.”

He admitted that the original statement had been “poorly worded” but said “to people who see a lot of dead bodies” the women had appeared at the time to have been dead for several hours.

The family were offered, through local elders, American compensation — $2,000 (£1,300) for each of the victims.

“There’s no value on human life,” Bibi Sabsparie said. “They killed our family, then they came and brought us money. Money won’t bring our family back.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ne...




US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan
Friday April 9 - 10:56 - Posted by 79203a80077424a8...

US military slaughters sheep in apology for Afghanistan deaths

By Julius Cavendish, Correspondent / April 8, 2010

Vice Adm. William McRaven traveled to the village of Khataba to offer personal apologies for the five Afghanistan deaths in a botched special forces raid there in February. The US military acknowledged its involvement in the killings earlier this month.

Khataba, Afghanistan

A top US Special Forces commander visited the village of Khataba in eastern Afghanistan today to apologize for a night raid that went terribly wrong. It was here on Feb. 11 that a Special Forces team gunned down an Afghan police chief, a prosecutor, and three unarmed women, infuriating locals and drawing a sharp rebuke from politicians in Kabul.

Flanked by dozens of Afghan soldiers, Vice Adm. William McRaven, head of Joint Special Operations Command, spent an hour at the scene of the killings. “I am the commander of the men who accidentally killed your loved ones,” Admiral McRaven told Haji Sharabuddin, the family patriarch. “I came here today to send my condolences to you and to your family and to your friends. I also came today to ask your forgiveness for these terrible tragedies.”

It was a remarkable turnabout for the US military, which for two months after the killings declined to say what units had been involved or otherwise take responsibility for the deaths. Afghan investigators have claimed that Special Forces tried to cover up their involvement in the Afghanistan deaths, though that’s a charge the US has denied.

But Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, is grappling with a counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine that calls for US troops, trained to be aggressive and assertive, to protect Afghans and win friends and allies that way. Since taking command last year, General McChrystal has issued tighter rules of engagement and kept a constant stream of communication about the need to keep civilian casualties as low as possible.

In a video conference taking questions from troops earlier this year, McChrystal said with some frustration "we’ve shot an amazing number of people" who were not, in fact, threats. In February, McChrystal apologized to the Afghan people after a NATO airstrike killed 27 civilians.

Admiral McRaven gave his apologies in the same room where 25 relatives had gathered the night of Feb. 11 to celebrate the birth of a newborn child, shortly before the Special Forces raid took place. NATO admitted responsibility for all five deaths for the first time on April 4, paving the way for Thursday’s visit.
Sheep offering

Arriving in a cavalcade of trucks and armored vehicles, three Afghan soldiers pinned down a sheep and held a blade to its throat in a traditional Afghan gesture seeking clemency. Then an elder summoned them inside and McRaven offered his condolences.

“Sir, I know that you are a good man and that your family are good people,” he said. “We did not come here to any harm. The American soldiers came here to protect the Afghan people, not to hurt them. This was a terrible mistake.”

“Sir, you and I are very different,” he said. “You are a family man with many children and many friends. I am a soldier. I have spent most of my career overseas, away from my family. But I have children as well. And my heart grieves for you.”

Rising from among the dozens of soldiers and family members seated on the floor, Mr. Sharabuddin said he knew that “foreign troops came to Afghanistan to help us, to protect us, to bring security” and were “not here to kill the civilians.”

But, he said, justice would only be served when the Americans gave up the informant who sent the Special Forces squad to raid a house full of civilians and government officials. “We want that spy who gave the false information to the Americans,” Mr. Sharabuddin said. “I don’t want the spy for myself, I want him to face justice or be handed over to the commander of the [Afghan army] corps.”

Commander Abdullah, a member of the provincial council of elders, warned US forces not to “accept information too readily. Because the enemies of Afghanistan are always trying to trick them this way… During the 30 years of war in Afghanistan, everyone made some enemies, and everyone is trying to get their enemies killed like this.”

After McRaven left, the conversation followed the same theme. “I’m happy these people came here. High-ranking generals came here,” Sharabuddin said. “They used our tradition of bringing a sheep. I’m very happy… but I haven’t forgotten the spy.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia...



US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan
Friday April 9 - 11:01 - Posted by 79203a80077424a8...

Survivors of family killed in Afghanistan raid threaten suicide attacks

by Jerome Starkey, Afghanistan March 15, 2010

A family whose members were killed in a botched night raid in eastern Afghanistan have rejected “blood money” from the Government and vowed to carry out suicide attacks unless the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a policeman and his brother were shot dead on February 12 by unidentified gunmen. Eight men were arrested in the raid on the village of Khataba in Paktia province. They have all been released.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killings. A US official in Kabul refused to identify the force involved, citing “utmost national and strategic security interests”.

The United Nations has criticised intelligence agencies in Afghanistan in the past for using paramilitary groups to carry out “extrajudicial killings”. If the force was controlled by the CIA or Afghanistan’s domestic intelligence service it would be exempt from new Nato guidelines designed to limit night raids, which came into force on January 23.

Local elders delivered $2,000 (£1,300) in compensation for each of the five victims to the head of the family, Haji Sharabuddin, after protests brought Gardez, the capital of Paktia, to a halt. “I don’t want money. I want justice,” he said. “All our family, we now don’t care about our lives. We will all do suicide attacks and [the whole province] will support us.”

Nato had claimed that the assault force found the women’s bodies “tied up, gagged and killed”. In its initial statement it also said: “Several insurgents engaged the joint force in a fire fight and were killed.”

An investigation by The Times at and around the scene found both those statements to be untrue. Although the family’s claims that they did not shoot back could not be independently verified, none of the dead was an insurgent. Relatives say that the women were killed during, not before, the raid.

Nato officials continued to brief journalists in Kabul yesterday that the women were victims of an “honour” killing. However, they did not explain why the bodies would have been kept in the house overnight, against Islamic custom, nor why the family had invited 25 guests to celebrate the naming of a newborn child the same evening. Nato denies accusations of a cover-up.

An undated document seen by The Times that was presented by US forces to Commander Dawood, the dead policeman, praised him for his work and “dedication and willingness to serve the people of Afghanistan”. It said he would “ensure the stability of your country for many years”.

Commander Dawood’s brother, Saranwal Zahir, was a district attorney in Ahmadabad district, also in Paktia. The two married women were four and five months pregnant. The teenage girl, Gulalai, was engaged to be married this summer.

“Before, when I heard reports of raids like this and elders said [foreign troops] only came to colonise Afghanistan, I told them they are here to help us,” said Sayed Mohammed Mal, the vice-chancellor of Gardez University, whose son Mansoor was Gulalai’s fiancé. “But when I witnessed this in my family’s home, I realised I was wrong. Now I accept the things those people told me. I hate [foreign forces]. I hate the Government.”

Afghan officials insist that the raid was a mistake. None of the people reached by The Times said that the family had links with the Taleban.

“My father was friends with the Americans and they killed him.,” said Commander Dawood’s son, Abdul Ghafar, as he held a dog-eared photograph showing the policeman with three US soldiers. One of the Americans had his arm around Mr Dawood. “They killed my father. I want to kill them. I want the killers brought to justice.”

The family suspect that a spy may have deliberately misled the assault force and the relatives have appealed to President Karzai to hand him over.

“If the Government don’t give us the spy I will carry a holy Koran to the presidential palace and ask, why don’t you help us? Why do you let the Americans carry out these operations?” Mr Dawood’s mother, Bibi Sabsparie, said. Haji Sharabuddin, her husband, said that he wanted the spy shot, hanged and burnt.

“The foreigners are always talking about human rights. But they don’t care about human rights,” said Gulalai’s father, Mohammed Tahir. “They teach us human rights then they kill a load of civilians. They didn’t come here to end terrorism. They are terrorists.”

Mohammed Sabir, whose wife, Bibi Shirin, was killed, suggested vengeance: “If the Americans don’t give us the spy, bring us seven Americans and we will kill them.”

The family count seven deaths, not five, because the two women were pregnant.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ne...




US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan
Friday April 9 - 11:04 - Posted by 79203a80077424a8...

Gardez Investigation Concludes

International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan

2010-04-CA-005 For Immediate Release

KABUL, Afghanistan (Apr. 4) - A thorough joint investigation into the events that occurred in the Gardez district of Paktiya Province Feb. 12, has determined that international forces were responsible for the deaths of three women who were in the same compound where two men were killed by the joint Afghan-international patrol searching for a Taliban insurgent.
The two men, who were later determined not to be insurgents, were shot and killed by the joint patrol after they showed what appeared to be hostile intent by being armed. While investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence, they concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.

"We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families," said Brig Gen. Eric Tremblay, ISAF Spokesperson. "The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taliban insurgent and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety. We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families."

"We are continuing our dialogue with our Afghan security partners to improve coordination for future operations and help prevent such mistakes from happening again," said Tremblay.
The investigation also reviewed the information released by ISAF Joint Command, ISAF and the Afghan Ministry of Interior, and found the releases issued shortly after the operation were based on a lack of cultural understanding by the joint force and the chain of command. The statement noted the women had been bound and gagged, but this information was taken from an initial report by the international members of the joint force who were not familiar with Islamic burial customs.

"We regret any confusion caused by the initial statements and are committed to improving our coordination and understanding of Afghan culture and customs," said Tremblay.

ISAF officials will discuss the results of the investigation with the family of the individuals killed, apologize for what happened, and will provide compensation in accordance with local customs.

http://www.isaf.nato.int/en/article...



US special forces ’tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan (photos + video)
Thursday April 15 - 06:13 - Posted by ad5463735abad603...

"...“We did not come here to any harm. The American soldiers came here to protect the Afghan people, not to hurt them. This was a terrible mistake.”...."

What a crock of shit! This was no mistake. It was an intentional murder of civilian population. INTENTIONAL. The US has BECOME the axis of evil.

You can thank Obama for continuing this. Bush should have been hung already, but he’s backed by the same Zionistas Obama is backed by. Bought and paid for by Israel.







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Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART I PART III PART IV Several years ago, a young lady came into the college where I was teaching to inquire about a full-time instructor’s position in the sociology department. She was advised that only adjunct positions were available. Her response was, “No thanks. Once an adjunct, always an adjunct.” Her words still echo in my mind. Even as colleges and universities raise their tuition costs, they are relying more and more on adjunct instructors. Adjuncts are (...)
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HIGHER EDUCATION IN AMERICA: DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? PART I
Friday 28 September
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
PART II PART III PART IV When The Bill of Rights was added to the United States Constitution over two hundred years ago, Americans were blessed with many rights considered to be “fundamental.” One conspicuously missing, however, was the right to an education. This was not surprising given the tenor of the times. America was primarily an agrarian culture, and education, especially higher education, was viewed as a privilege reserved for the children of the rich and (...)
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ONE SOLITARY LIFE, PART TWO
Monday 30 July
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
3 comments
If there is one universal question that haunts all human beings at some point in their lives, it is, “Why do we die?” Death, after all, is the great illogic. It ultimately claims all, the rich and the poor, the mighty and the small, the good and the evil. Death also has the capability to make most human pursuits—such as the quest for wealth, fame and power—vacuous and fleeting. Given this reality, I have often wondered why so many people are still willing to (...)
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HOW MUCH CORRUPTION CAN DEMOCRACY ENDURE?
Thursday 28 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
6 comments
How much corruption can a “democracy” endure before it ceases to be a democracy? If five venal, mendacious, duplicitous, amoral, biased and (dare I say it) satanic Supreme Court “justices”—John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy—have their way, America will soon find out. In several previous articles for Pravda.Ru, I have consistently warned how the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision is one of the (...)
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DEMOCRACY IN THE HANDS OF IDIOTS, PART TWO
Tuesday 12 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
1 comment
Imagine, if you will, that the United States government passes a law banning advertisers from sponsoring commercials on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show or Rupert Murdoch’s Fox (Faux) “News” Network. On one hand, there would be two decided advantages to this ban: The National IQ would undoubtedly increase several percentage points, and manipulative pseudo-journalists would no longer be able to appeal to the basest instincts in human nature for ratings and profit while (...)
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DEMOCRACY IN THE HANDS OF IDIOTS
Thursday 7 June
by : David R. Hoffman, Pravda.Ru Legal Editor
4 comments
LIVE, from the State that brought you Senator Joseph McCarthy, Wisconsin voters now proudly present, fresh from his recall election victory, Governor Scott Walker! At first glance, it is almost unfathomable that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have voted to retain Scott Walker as Wisconsin’s governor. This, after all, is a man who openly declared he is trying to destroy the rights of workers through a “divide and conquer” strategy; who received 61% of the (...)
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PEOPLE WITHOUT SOULS
Tuesday 13 March
by : David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
2 comments
A question I’ve frequently been asked since I began writing for Pravda.Ru in 2003 is, “Why did you become disillusioned with the practice of law?” This question is understandable, particularly since, in most people’s minds, being an attorney is synonymous with wealth and political power. I’ve always been reluctant to answer this question for fear it will discourage conscientious and ethical people from pursuing careers in the legal profession—a (...)
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