News & Politics

U.S.-Backed Forces Tortured, Abducted and Killed Civilians, Claims Afghan Gov't

The inquiry comes after Afghan President Hamid Karzai barred U.S. troops from operating in the province where the abuses allegedly took place.

A day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused U.S.-trained Afghan security forces of committing serious human rights violations, a joint inquiry with NATO has been formed to investigate the allegations. The formation of the inquiry comes soon after Karzai barred U.S. troops from operating in the Maidan Wardak province, which is where the abuse allegedly took place.

The New York Times reports today that nothing much is clear as to what happened. Interviews with officials in both the U.S. and Afghan governments did not resolve anything. “Everyone seemed confused, scrambling to confirm details of the events that led the Afghan government to issue the ban and demand Western cooperation in investigating accusations,” the Times notes. The paper reports that nobody knows which U.S. forces will be barred from operating in the province, a strategic location in the U.S. war effort.

“In the absence of answers, American and NATO officials agreed to form a joint commission with the Afghan government to investigate,” the New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg writes. “Still, a senior NATO spokesman, Brig. Gen. Günter Katz of Germany, said at a news conference on Monday that a previous inquiry could not confirm abuses by Western forces or Afghans working with them in Maidan Wardak.”

The dispute centers around reports from Afghan villagers that people in the province had been killed, abducted and tortured by U.S.-trained Afghan security forces. “There have been lots of complaints from the local people about misconduct, mistreatment, beating, taking away, torturing and killing of civilians by Special Forces and their Afghan associates,” Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the government in the province, told the Times.

The forces that carried out the alleged attacks, which have not been confirmed, may have been security units trained by the Central Intelligence Agency. They operate beyond the knowledge and control of the official Afghan government.

The anger at U.S. forces is the latest episode to show increasing distrust of international occupation forces. U.S. Special Operations Forces have been accused of committing human rights abuses against Afghans. Yesterday, the Times reported on a February 13 raid that an Afghan villager said left a veterinary student dead three days after he was detained.

But the Obama administration has been pushing for a continued Special Forces presence in the country after most U.S. troops leave in 2014.

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.