The massacre at Kakarak

Print edition : August 03, 2002

Of arrogance and Pentagon-speak, in the midst of chasing Mullah Omar's shadows and keeping Hamid Karzai in power.

MARC W. HEROLD

"How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry? Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died?" - Bob Dylan

Scenes in Mir Wais Hospital in Kandahar1

MIR WAIS Hospital officials in Kandahar said most of the dead and injured were women and children. One of the injured, a six-year-old girl named Paliko, was brought to the hospital still wearing her party dress. Villagers said all members of her family were killed. Five children and a young woman all lay dazed and tearful in one room at Mir Wais. Another injured child, seven-year-old Malika, lost her mother and father, one brother and one sister. Malika's uncle Anar Gul, who brought her to Kandahar, said she was the only survivor from her immediate family. Bibi Asha, 5, her foot in a bandage, sits beside her one-year-old brother, Hayatullah, his face pocked with shrapnel wounds. Relatives said their parents and siblings were all killed.2 Saboor Gul, 11, who lost her mother in the U.S. air attack on July 1 and whose back and legs were wounded by shrapnel, recounted: "The airplane was very big. I was up on the roof when a bomb landed and we ran downstairs. After the second bomb I was unconscious and someone brought me here... I am scared [she said looking at the two foreign journalists]. They are Americans and they bombed us."3

Five-year-old Ghulam Mohammad, who was injured in the attack, at the Mir Wais Hospital.-CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

The attack upon Kakarak and three other nearby villages (Shatoghai, Syansang, and Miandao) in the Deh Rawud district by, among other aircraft, the AC-130 gunship nicknamed Spooky4, represents the most recent case justifying a perception that U.S. forces shoot first and ask questions later after the tragic incident.5 The attack upon Kakarak is far from being the deadliest to date in the U.S. bombing campaign - raids upon Karam, Khanabad, Shah Agha and Kama Ado killed many more innocent Afghan civilians, facts which the mainstream American corporate media simply ignore - on the 4th of July, Pamela Constable could write in the Washington Post, "it was the worst single episode of civilian casualties."6

The area around Tarin Kot and Deh Rawud in Uruzgan province had long been a target of both U.S. bombing raids and Special Forces attacks. Deh Rawud had been attacked at least twice since October 7 (on October 24 and May 13). On January 23 in Hazar Qadam, U.S. Special Forces attacked a village and killed 21 persons. Char Chine was the home village of Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Fazel Mazloom, the two former top Taliban leaders in the northern region. Two U.S. Special Forces raids had been carried out in nearby Deh Rawud, upon the home of Mullah Baradar Akhund. Deh Rawud is also the place of the childhood residence of Mullah Omar. He came to live there as a young boy after his father died. On November 1, the Taliban militia surprised Hamid Karzai (now head of the Afghan government) and a group of anti-Taliban fighters there. Three of Karzai's supporters were hanged and Karzai himself narrowly escaped a similar fate; four U.S. Air Force Special Operations attack helicopters flew into Deh Rawud and, according to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, air-lifted him out to safer havens in Pakistan (where he had sat out the tumultuous years, 1996-2001).7 U.S. forces have expended a lot of time and killed many innocents, "seeking Mullah Omar in a land of shadows".8 Germany's major weekly, Der Spiegel, commented sardonically, "The 'Enduring Freedom' which just brings death to more civilians."9

The [predictable] words from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa?

The U.S. Central Command released a predictable statement saying "close air support from U.S. Air Force B-52 and AC-130 aircraft struck several ground targets, including anti-aircraft artillery sites that were engaging the aircraft." Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson in Washington, said (predictably), "It is unclear at this point if those civilian casualties were the result of our errant bomb, or if they were the result of anti-aircraft artillery." Forty four to a hundred Afghan civilians killed by anti-aircraft bullets falling back to earth?

By July 3, the official U.S. story had grown yet taller: a large anti-aircraft gun had been seen next to the wedding guest home.

Mohammad Gul beside his brother-in-law Wali Khan, at the hospital.-CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

A problem is that reporters who visited the scene found no wreckage of the gun and all the Afghans present who survived denied the presence of any gun. But, "errant U.S. bombs" had hit three Afghan weddings previously - in Mazar-i-Sharif on October 15; Niazi Qala on December 29; and Bal Khel village on May 17.10

What does seem very clear is that an engagement party was taking place in a couple of houses around midnight and that, as is customary among Pashtuns, small-arms were being fired in the air in celebration. This gunfire drew the attention of the 400 American and Afghan troops who had been in the region for a couple days searching for the shadows of Mullah Omar. An AC-130 Spectre gunship strafed the four villages in a four-hour hail of munitions. The result was 60 to 80 more dead civilians - including the groom's family of 25 - and many of the injured showing up at Kandahar's Mir Wais Hospital. Five people of Syansang village were killed. Given a 2:1 ratio of injured to killed civilians in this campaign, the injured people number between 120 and 160.

Equally predictable has been the mild rebuke of U.S. actions by the Karzai regime. After all, fellow Pashtuns had been slaughtered and silence would have quickly confirmed the truth that the puppet regime did the bidding of the Panjshir Tajik boys and the U.S. The most that an obedient Karzai could offer was a ban on shooting weapons in the air during celebrations.

Equally revealing and utterly predictable are the varying casualty figures mentioned, with the lowest numbers put out by the U.S-supported Karzai regime, which, cited 'at least 20 or 30' (USA Today mentions the same figure). The local pro-Karzai provincial chieftain in Uruzgan [a certain Bismullah) says 'at least 40'.11 The independent Afghan Islamic Press news agency reports 100 more killed, a figure echoed in Europe (for example, in The Scotsman). Staff members in the Kandahar hospital and an eyewitness cited by BBC News Online12, mention a figure of 120 dead civilians.13 Neither the Pentagon nor the Bagram base operation cite specific numbers, opting instead to say on July 1 night: "We understand that there were some civilian casualties in the operation, but we do no yet know how many casualties or how they occurred" (Col. Roger King at Bagram).

On Wednesday, July 3, "fightin'" Victoria Clark, Pentagon spokeswoman, offered the PentagonSpeak profundity: "There isn't any reason to believe or disbelieve anything."14

The outline of the 'official story' can be discerned already: a large gun in the garden of the house where the wedding was being celebrated was firing at reconnaissance craft; Al Qaeda and Taliban had been 'spotted' in the villages; and the 'investigators' (like Colonel Kass Saleh, the American in charge of the 'investigation') sent to determine The Truth will say that not enough blood can be found splattered around and only very few graves exist, if any. Colonel Robert King will proclaim to the assembled reporters pool in the Bagram air base that the case is closed and the attack was justified.

Abdul Rahim, the district chief of Deh Rawud had this to say: "If the Americans want to claim these villagers had heavy guns, then these heroes [the Americans] should come and find them."15

The views from the village residents, survivors and aid workers

"The celebrations were in full swing, with hundreds of guests preparing for a wedding, singing and dancing in the beam of a tractor's headlights. Out of the darkness a warplane descended, sending rockets exploding through the crowd."16

At one house, women were dancing and clapping and beating drums. At another, the men beat drums and fired rifles in the air. Some village residents slept on their rooftops to escape the heat after midnight, others watched the festivities below. They saw the U.S. aircraft in the sky moments before being assailed with a barrage of gunfire and rockets.17 A resident, Abdul Saboor, told the BBC, "There was no one to help last night..."

The Pentagon admitted on July 2 that it took the American military 12 long hours to notify the Afghan regime that some of its civilians had been killed. The delay meant it was too late to mobilise Afghan forces to help transport the wounded to a hospital. The wounded were loaded into private cars and taken to Kandahar. Some of the wounded were escorted by locally based aid workers, but the dead were left unattended through the night and morning as American troops ordered people to stay inside.

At the home of Haji Mohammed, the groom's uncle. The shoes were left at his door by people who participated in the engagement party and were killed or injured in the attack.-CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

The chief of the neighbouring district of Chora in Uruzgan province, Haji Abdul Khaleq Achakzai, said he had visited the site of the bombardment on July 3. He said that the number of casualties could be as high as 200 and that bodies were still being pulled from the rubble late in the afternoon. The Governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Mohammad, arrived the day after the attack and said that "they were collecting body parts in a bucket".18

The first attack was upon the home of Mohammed Sherif, whose son Abdul Malik, 18, a farmer, was to be married. Malik's fiancee is the daughter of Mullah Anwar Akhund, brother of Mullah Baradar Akhund (who was one of the four founding fathers of the Taliban and former Taliban military chief of the Central Corps southern region19). The wedding was to unite children of two important families of two villages - Kakarak (the groom) and Miandao (the bride). By tradition, neither Malik nor his fiancee was present and both escaped injury. Both were at Mullah Akhund's house.

Ahmed Jan Agha, who was beating a traditional Afghan drum during the pre-nuptial party, said: "The first rocket hit the women's section. The second hit the men's section. Then everybody started running. The airplanes were shooting rockets at the people running away. They were chasing us."20

Shah Bibi, 30, a seamstress whose leg was broken in the stampede of fleeing women, said: "Everyone was making so much noise that we never heard the sound of the planes. Then the bombs came and we started running...there was so much dust we couldn't see."21

Five injured children - all with shrapnel wounds - in Mir Wais Hospital spoke about being chased through wheat fields and dry river beds by the attacking U.S. plane.

Sadiqa, 15, was in the women's section when the U.S. attack began. The first barrage hit the women. Terrified, she and the others ran out of the courtyard and into the surrounding fields. Sadiqa said she searched for a dry stream bed where she could hide. She was shot by the AC-130 as she ran, the shrapnel shearing into both her legs. Now she lies in the Mir Wais Hospital in the salmon-coloured dress she had put on for the party.22 Her injuries will heal. More difficult will be accepting the loss of her entire family of 15 people.

Shooting at people running away - exactly as in earlier U.S. attacks upon Asmani Kilai, Chowkar Karez, Niazi Qala, and Char Chine. American and Afghan troops entered the village at about 5 a.m. Haji Mohammad Anwar, the groom's uncle, said: "First they bombed the womenfolk, killing them like animals. Then they stormed into the houses and tied hands of men and women...it was cruelty. After bombing the area, the U.S. forces rushed to that house [pointing to his brother Sherif's house], cordoned it off and refused to let people help the victims or take them away for treatment."23

Anwar described how some of the injured died from loss of blood: "Until 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning, the Americans did not allow anyone to help the injured and to cover the bodies. Most of their clothes had been burnt off [in the attack]. They kept filming and photographing the naked women...the people are asking: is this the result of the support we have extended to the Americans? This is humiliation. Our women are disgraced."24

They left at noon and the villagers began burying the dead. At Sherif's home, there were two gaping holes in the roof. The mud walls facing the inside were pockmarked with shrapnel holes and bits of metal shards were scattered through the yard. Dried blood and bits of human remains littered the area. Survivors picked their way through rubble on July 2, pointing to shrapnel, bloodstains and barely recognisable human remains.25 The groom mentioned how Gul Agha Shirzai's gunmen entered the village after the attack and stole wedding gifts and money (a detachment of U.S. Special Forces serves as personal protector in Kandahar of Gul Agha, now Governor of Kandahar). Mohammed Anwar called Gul Agha's militia a bunch of "smugglers, addicts and thieves".26

At the entrance to the house lay 40 pairs of shoes whose owners had perished in the hail of fire from an AC-130. The groom, Malik, said with anger: "My heart is burning with rage. The Americans should be put on trial... Did they find any dead bodies of Al Qaeda people here?... If someone handed over the whole of Afghanistan to me, it would be no compensation for this."

A day later, upon hearing that U.S. spokespersons were saying an anti-aircraft gun had been seen firing from the wedding party compound, Malik said it was a "bloodthirsty lie...they killed every single one of my dear ones. If I had the means, I would fight the Americans."

Malik lost nearly his entire family - mother, father, 4 sisters, and three brothers - in the U.S. attack.

Malik's grandmother, Sardara, called for vengeance, while huddled in the courtyard where the wedding festivities had been held, murmuring Islamic prayers and weeping. She spoke of how she had been sitting on the roof with a number of small children watching the pre-wedding party. Then, the planes came and "I dropped my grandchildren from the roof one by one, and then I jumped off... what they did was not Islamic, but we are Muslims and our God is powerful. I pray He will punish those who did this. Even burning them in an oven would not be enough. I want nothing but their heads."27

A U.S. projectile punched a hole in the house of Tor Agha who lives in Kakarak. He says: "Here we found half the body of a child...the rest was over there...", and crossing the compound he points to a step, "and the head, here."28

These are "the orphans of a wedding day massacre."29

At a hospital in Kandahar, Sardar Gul, 25, whose six-year-old cousin, Ghulam, was among the wounded, said those who were partying were firing rifles in the air in the local form of celebration that night. Ghulam's lungs are perforated by metal shards, his collar bone is shattered.30 By Friday, doctors had removed shrapnel from his lungs. Ghulam's father and mother were killed. Gul said he heard and saw no airplanes during the shooting. First, the house where the wedding was taking place was hit. Then the U.S. attack shifted to nearby houses and villages and continued from midnight until 4 a.m.

Wali Jan, 32, a bearded man with a black turban, though not injured, lost one son, two grandchildren and a niece. His brother-in-law, Haji Abdul Raziq, lies semi-conscious in Mir Wais, less one eye, and with four pieces of metal in his abdomen. Raziq lived several miles from Kakarak, and his family was asleep when they were hit. Later, a relative, Pir Jan, was sitting in the courtyard of a house next to the groom's home. The attack had blasted a hole in his roof and killed two boys aged seven and 13, who had been sleeping on the flat rooftop. Pir and others said five other children were injured 31. Days later, Sahib Jan, 25, a neighbour of the groom's house, stood over a dark patch of congealed blood under an arch where a 13-year-old boy had died. He said: "His name was Shirin, the son of Zaher Jan...there was shrapnel in his head."

Laik, 35, a farmer, lost his wife and three children and several relatives. He also saw two men cut down beside him. He said: "Three of us were drinking tea together in the courtyard when they first bombed. They killed my friend right where we were. Then we ran out of the compound and my other friend was killed...the Americans were bombing the house and we could not believe it, we were running everywhere to hide."

Laik fled into the fields and hid in a small ditch.32 Abdul Bari, 30, a farmer in Kakarak village, lost 15 people from his home - including his wife, brother... - and tended to his severely wounded, heavily bandaged six-year-old nephew in Mir Wais Hospital.33

Nassema, 15, told a news agency in Kandahar: "A piece of iron sliced the neck of the woman in front of me. In a split second her head was not on her body."34

Another woman said: "It was like an abattoir. There was blood everywhere. There was smoke and dirt all around, and people were running helter-skelter. It was a doomsday scene."

A 70-year-old woman, Nazaka, ran from the house into an orchard beside the house. She remembers: "When the first bomb hit, I escaped to the garden. I took my grandson and another woman who had been injured. I pulled her by her shirt. I was in the orchard in the far corner, and it got me."35

She showed a shrapnel wound on her leg. Carlotta Gall, who visited Kakarak, reported on Nazaka and continued: "Around her in the orchard, there was unspeakable gore. A woman's torso had landed in one of the small almond trees. Human flesh was still hanging on the tree five days after the attack, and more putrifying remains were tangled in the branches of a pomegranate tree, its bright scarlet leaves still blooming."

Eighteen-year-old Chinara Akhund was sitting with her friends listening to songs on a tape recorder, happy that her sister was about to marry the son of a local tribal chief. Suddenly, she heard a roar of planes and a massive explosion. She said: "I don't know what happened next. I woke in the hospital."36 Chinara lies in Mir Wais with a broken leg, her hands still painted with henna dye for the wedding. A blood-spattered baby cried in a metal bassinet beside her.

Kako, 8, ran outside when she heard a loud bang, remembering: "I saw the pool in the courtyard filled with blood, there were bodies lying all around. I saw a woman without a head." Siddaqa Bibi, 14, said she was counting the number of guests to make sure that everyone had a place to sleep, when the U.S. attack began. She recalls: "There was blood everywhere. Then all of a sudden the walls and the roof caved in and we were buried under the debris."

Khaliq Dad, 30, was at the pre-wedding celebration and he lost one female relative and two others were injured. Khaliq said: "We were all excited by the ceremony and singing songs... At 1 a.m. someone started shooting, but it normally happens that people shoot in the air during such occasions. And then the American bombing came...I went into the house [after the attack], and all the people who had been sitting on the roof, all of them were torn into pieces..."37

Khaliq ran into the fields and was pursued, and was wounded in the hip and arm.

Khudai Nazar, 45, lost several relatives in the attack and summarised his feelings thus: "They searched the whole village but they did not find any Al Qaeda or Taliban. Those people who bombed our women and children, they are our enemy now."38 Haji Wali's home in the neighbouring village of Shatoghai was also attacked. Wali said: "One day God will give us strength and we will fight them. Even during the Russian occupation [1979-1989] there was never such a sustained bombing of the area. We are weak and they are oppressing us."39 Haji Wali was upset that afterwards the coalition forces had offered the villagers tents as compensation! "They want to please us by providing us with four tents. Is two or four tents worth the price of our lives? Would the Americans forgive us if we killed two Americans and give them two tents in return? The Taliban used to lock us in jail, but they would not bomb us and dishonour our women."

Jamala Khatun lost her son, 13, daughter, and two grandsons - Rehmat and Nabi, both four - in the U.S. strike upon Syansang village, 8 km away from Kakarak. "We were asleep on the verandah when the bombs hit, we had no idea what was happening," she told the Agence France-Presse reporter as she clutched the blood-soaked clothes of her dead son and two grandchildren.40 Jamala said: "My grandson and daughter's mouths were full of dust... Write about this so it will stop, so they leave us in peace to pray and fast."41

Haji Mohammed Anwar, the groom's uncle, who lost 10 members of his family, held a mourning ceremony on July 5 at his home in Miandao, a village next to Kakarak, and said: "I had 500 guests in my home that night, and there was lots of light (for them) to see us...[the assault is] a shameful attack by a superpower... Whoever did this, should be punished and killed. Then we will be happy."42 An angry Anwar said: "Karzai is just a traffic cop working for the Americans."43

On Thursday, the Governor of Uruzgan, Jan Mohammad, mentioned that some of the injured had died.44 He demanded that the 'informers' who told the U.S. to bomb the villages in his province, killing 46 civilians (his numbers), be turned over. On the same Thursday, some village residents had begun shovelling sand over the bloodstains that had spread out through the dust and dirt. Others were still collecting human body parts. The groom, Malik, prayed at the 25 new graves.

The whole matter was aptly summarised by Shah Wali, 35, a farmer and the husband of the injured Shah Bibi: "If there were Taliban or Arabs in the area, they would never have let us hold such a wedding party. They did not allow people to play music or dance or beat drums; they said it was not Islamic."45

Four villages were bombed on the same night. Were they all firing anti-aircraft guns at U.S. planes? Some days later, the Pentagon changed its 'story', now saying that it had 'intelligence' that Mullahs Omar and Baradar were in Kakarak village.46 The local Deh Rawud district official, a long-time opponent of the Taliban, scoffs at this suggestion: "If Mullah Omar and Mullah Baradar were sitting up the road with a whole lot of soldiers, would we be sitting here?" He went on asking of General O'Neill, who visited Kakarak over the weekend: "Mullah Omar and Mullah Baradar are just two people and you bombed four villages. Why?"

A 'fact-finding' team led by "an Afghan Colonel" (who must be a Tajik in the employ of Marshall Mohammed Fahim, the Defence Minister) and comprising representatives of the U.S. military, the Karzai regime and the U.S. Embassy went to Kakarak to unearth the truth. The composition of the group should immediately raise doubts. A Tajik Colonel and U.S. militarypersons are going to report accurately on the death of Pashtuns killed by the U.S. military forces? More 'truth' would likely be found by persons not obviously associated with one side (and not part of the Bagram 'reporters pool' which largely serves as obedient stenographers of Col. Robert King). The Western investigators will be searching for bodies, which have long been buried. On July 6, the 'fact-finding' team released its results: Five civilians killed and 11 wounded, though General O'Neill reluctantly conceded (in order to prevent a political rift with the Karzai regime's claim) that 48 civilians had perished. The Karzai regime has paid out $18,500 as 'compensation' to the engagement party victims - about $200 on behalf of each individual killed. Abdul Rahim says that the few tents and blankets that the U.S. forces provided for the victims just added insult to injury.47 Rahim also accused the U.S. forces and their Afghan armed soldiers - Gul Agha's militia - of taking money away from the village and taking away 20 kg of opium. More significantly, the U.S. forces are using the Kakarak massacre as a wedge to establish a military base there in return for building a bridge and the like.48

Tabulating just the names and numbers of those killed mentioned in this account, indicates that over 60 innocent civilians died in the villages of Kakarak, Miandao and Syansang on the first night of July. This corresponds exactly with what village leaders now say is the death toll: 63 people died at the wedding party alone, mostly women and children.49

But, aside from these horrible details a larger lesson exists. The U.S forces continue to wage a war of bombing and Special Forces' attacks against a largely invisible enemy. Such an enemy should rather be confronted through slow, painstaking, intelligence-police work on the ground. Patience is required. Finding arms dumps is simply no substitute for apprehending Messrs. Bin Laden and Omar, unless the unspoken American objective is keeping in power a pro-U.S. mayor. The problem is that a de facto puppet, unrepresentative government - or rather the mayor of a capital city - has been installed, requiring over 5,000 foreign troops of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) merely to stay in place. How many foreign troops then would a Karzai regime need to exert influence over Afghanistan? A third consideration is that the U.S. forces are fearful of fighting on the ground, hence prefer rapid night-time raids or bombing assaults. The memory of Vietnam casualties lingers. In effect, the U.S. war strategy is incoherent and no exit strategy exists, which does not make it less bloodless, less dangerous, or less criminal.

As Juergen Todenhofer so admirably put it, "you cannot bomb a just world into place."50 Indeed, the U.S. strategy of bombing and Special Forces raids has perpetuated injustice in Afghanistan. It is simply unconscionably arrogant to wage a war upon villages from the air when one has minimal knowledge of the country and culture and by dropping bombs and firing Gatling cannons and heavy machine guns into civilian-rich areas.

The orphans of Kakarak are icons of a wedding massacre perpetrated by our AC-130. Forty pairs of shoes lay in the entrance.

"Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

Postscript

The mainstream corporate press dutifully transmitted the message from a U.S military-Tajik 'investigative team' that there are no bodies, too few graves, not enough splattered blood and hence, the wedding deaths are much ado about nothing. The U.S.-U.K. press cried out from Bargram base (reminding one of 'where's the beef') in tabloid fashion, "Where are the bodies?"51 Strange that A.P. and other reporters are shown 20 and some graves by a grieving bridegroom, Abdul Malik, who lost both parents and 23 family members.52

Strange that countless survivors tell a similar story about how their loved ones died and cite names and numbers. Strange that Afghans are not believed and Afghan bodies must be certified by the aggressors, whereas hundreds of bodies never recovered in the World Trade Centre disaster are figured into the official count.53 Yet another American double-standard. But is it really that strange, that the survivors in the villages of Uruzgan would not take the fellow-travellers of their relatives' killers, to the hallowed grave-sites? Would you? A killer kills and then his cohorts demand to see the bodies to be sure that the persons are really dead.

Marc W. Herold is a Professor at the Departments of Economics and Women's Studies, University of New Hampshire, Durham, United States.

1. Photographs of victims in Mir Wais may be viewed at the slide show compiled by Newsday, at https://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/ny-wopent022770534jul02.story?coll=ny%2Dnews%2Dprint

2. Gall (July 5, 2002), op. cit.

3. Carlotta Gall, "Afghan Raid Leaves a Trail of Shock, Grief and Anger," The New York Times (July 5, 2002).

4. Spooky is the nickname given to the deadly AC-130 gunship by its admirers. The gunship forms part of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations forces.

5. Kim Sengupta, "Afghan Civilians Pay Heavy Price for Faulty Intelligence. U.S. Forces Gain Reputation for Shooting First and Asking Questions Later After Another Tragic Accident," The Independent (July 2, 2002).

6. Pamela Constable, "At Wedding, Joy Turns to Chaos," The Washington Post (July 4, 2002).

7. Matt Kelley, "U.S. Special Forces in Northern Afghanistan are Coordinating Support, Not Directing Rebel Troops, Pentagon Says," Associated Press (November 7, 2001) at https://multimedia.belointeractive.com/attack/military/1107military.html. U.S. Army and Air Force Special Operations forces have four bases in Pakistan : Jacobabad; Shamsi; Dalbandin; and Pasni (on the coast). The first three are located in southern Pakistan fairly close to the border with Afghanistan. Details on these facilities can be seen at Global Security's website, at https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/centcom.htm

8. Carlotta Gall, "Seeking Mullah Omar in a Land of Shadows," The New York Times (May 22, 2002).

9. Alexandre Schwabe, "Die 'Bestandige Freiheit' Bringt Immer Mehr Zivilisten de Tod," Der Spiegel (July 3, 2002) at https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,203711,00.html

10. Data in my "Appendix 4. Daily Casualty Count of Afghan Civilians Killed in U.S. Bombing and Special Forces Attacks, October 7 Until Present Day," at https://pubpages.unh.edu/mwherold

11. By Wednesday, the local officials had to concede that 'as many as 50 people may have been killed' - 40 in one village and eight in two other villages (Alissa J. Rubin and Greg Miller, "Afghanistan Death Toll May be 50. Villagers Killed in a U.S. Sweep of a Troubled Spot Included Friends of Karzai, Local Officials Say. About 150 Were Reportedly Injured," The Los Angeles Times (July 3, 2002)).

12. "Eyewitness: Villager Describes Attack, " BBC News Online (July 2, 2002 at 11-40 GMT) at https://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south-asia/newsid-2082000/2082306.stm

13. For example, Behroz Khan cites Tahir Agha who accompanied his uncle and some female members of his family to the hospital in Kandahar as saying the dead number 'well over 100' (Behroz Khan, "Families Still Burying U.S. Strike Victims," The News (July 4, 2002)).

14. In Drew Brown, "U.S.: Attacked Villages Sympathise With Terrorists," Knight Ridder Newspapers (July 3, 2002).

15. Ebadullah Edabi and Elizabeth Neuffer, "Bitter Afghans Bewail U.S. Attack," Boston Globe (July 5, 2002).

16. Catherine Philp, "They Were Shooting at People Running Away," The Times (July 4, 2002) at https://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-346161,00.html

17 "Afghan Villagers Say They Saw U.S. Aircraft Before the Bombardment Began," Agence France-Presse (July 4, 2002 at 6-35 a.m.). Constable mentions that a survivor said these were children sleeping on the roof and they were instantly killed.

18. Carlotta Gall, "Expecting Taliban, But Finding Only Horror," The New York Times (July 8, 2002).

19. The four key 'founding fathers' of the Taliban movement are: Mullah Omar who has played a disappearing act; Mullah Mohammad Rabbani (1956-2001) who was second-in-command to Mullah Omar until his death from liver cancer in April 2001; Mullah Qari Abdullah, the Taliban Intelligence chief, who was falsely reported to have died in a U.S. bombing attack upon Naka on December 27 and has vanished; Mullah Baradar Akhund, a close personal friend of Omar also from Uruzgan, who served as commander of the Kabul-based Central Army Corps and who has vanished. In other words, the Bush 'War on Terrorism' has failed to apprehend any of the Taliban's four founding fathers. Other key Taliban leaders who have eluded capture include: Mullah Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Osmani. The names of Baradar, Osmani, Dadullah and Haqqani are frequently mentioned as actual or potential leaders of a Taliban guerilla movement.

20. Adam Brown, "Afghan Survivors Recount U.S. Raid," Associated Press (July 3, 2002 at 10-23 a.m. ET) at https://www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=722382002 and at https://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1482494

21. "Afghan Villagers Describe Devastation. U.S. Offers Few Details on Raid That Killed 44," Hartford Courant (July 4, 2002).

22. Alissa J. Rubin, "U.S. Raid on Village Raises Hard Questions," The Los Angeles Times (July 5, 2002).

23. "'Cruel' Americans Stormed Homes, Filmed Naked Women; Villagers," Agence France-Presse (July 7, 2002 at 10-35 a.m.).

24. Agence France-Presse, op. cit. 25. Philp, op. cit. 26. Constable (July 5, 2002), op.cit.

27. Pamela Constable, "Sandals and Shrapnel Dot Attack Site," The Washington Post (July 5, 2002): A12.

28. Charles Glover, "Afghan Night of Terror Leaves Anger in Its Wake," Financial Times (July 5, 2002).

29. Jeanette Oldham, "Orphans of a Wedding Day Massacre," The Scotsman (July 2, 2002) at https://www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=713702002

30. "Afghan Attack Victims Speak of Loss," Associated Press (July 3, 2002) reprinted in Las Vegas Sun (July 3, 2002).

31. Gall (July 8, 2002), op.cit. 32. Gall (July 5, 2002), op. cit. 33. Constable, op. cit.

34. Denise Duclaux and Saeed Ali Achakzai, "Officials Probe Bombing as Anger Mounts," Associated Press [July 3, 2002 at 10:55 A.M. ET]. A photo of Malika in Kandahar hospital can be viewed at https://www.nando.net/special-reports/terrorism/retaliation/story/453570p-3632182c.html

35. Gall (July 8, 200), op.cit.

36. Saeed Ali Achakzai, "Afghan Victims Tell of Carnage From U.S. Bombardment," Associated Press (July 3, 2002 at 12-07 p.m. ET).

37. Ebadi and Neuffer, op. cit. 38. Gall (July 5, 2002), op. cit. 39. Agence France-Presse, op. cit. 40. Agence France-Presse, op. cit. 41. Gall (July 8, 2002), op.cit. 42. Constable (July 5, 2002), op.cit. 43. Glover, op. cit.

44 "Informers Misled U.S. Pilots, Says Governor," The Dawn (July 5, 2002).

45. Constable, op. cit. 46. Gall (July 8, 2002), op. cit.

47. Agence France-Presse, "Afghan Wedding Victims Get 418,500 in Compensation," The Times of India (July 8, 2002).

48. "U.S. General Visits Afghan Site, Offers Support," Reuters (July 8, 2002 at 05-05 a.m. ET).

49. Constable (July 5, 2002), op. cit.

50. see Juegen Todenhofer, "We Can't Simply Bomb a Just World Into Shape. It's a Lot Easier to Declare a Victory Than to Earn It," Chicago Tribune (June 30, 2002) at https://commondreams.org/views02/0630-04.htm

51. See News 24 at https://www.news24.com/News24/World/0,1113,2-10-1208994,00.html . Also "Probe Team Wraps, Still No Sign of Graves: U.S. Spokesman," Yahoo.news (July 5, 2002 at 4-32 p.m.).

52. See "Afghan Villager Shows Victims' Graves," Associated Press (July 4, 2002) https://cgi.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=14475145&template=afghandaily/indexsearch.txt&index=recent

53. No concern to examine the bits of steel scrap of the WTC for DNA samples to detect the existence of WTC victims. Instead, 70,000 tonnes of WTC scrap is carted off by ship to India and China for recycling.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

Subscribing to the online edition, I am confident, will make it mutually beneficial.

Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
×