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“Kill Teams” in Afghanistan Targeting Civilians

New revelations from the forgotten wars. US soldiers who are part of Kill Teams are murdering Afghan Civilians for “sport.” How many more are there? Afghan human rights groups want an investigation.

But you don’t understand they fight us because of our freedoms!

Afghans Urge Investigation Into ‘Kill Teams’ In Wake Of Sentencing, Photo Scandal

by M. Siddiqui

Leading independent human rights campaigners in Afghanistan have welcomed the sentencing of a U.S. soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport in 2010, but have called for a deeper probe into alleged “kill teams.”

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 22, is the first of five U.S. soldiers charged with staging combat situations to kill unarmed Afghan civilians to be sentenced. At the start of the court-martial hearing on March 23, Morlock testified that “the plan was to kill people.” He was subsequently found guilty on three counts of premeditated murder and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Military Judge Lieutenant General Kwasi Hawks said he intended to sentence Morlock to life in prison with the possibility of parole but was bound by Morlock’s plea deal.

Morlock is a key figure in a war-crimes probe that implicates a dozen members of his platoon and has raised some of the most serious criminal allegations stemming from the war in Afghanistan. He was accused of taking a lead role in the killings of three unarmed Afghan men in Kandahar Province in January, February, and May 2010.

Mounting Uproar

The German magazine “Der Spiegel” this week published several photos related to the killings, one showing Morlock crouched grinning over a bloodied corpse as he lifts the dead man’s head by the hair for the camera. The expected release of thousands of similar pictures is expected to create fierce resentment in Afghanistan, where the issue of civilian casualties is already the source of a highly charged debate.

The investigation and the publication of the pictures prompted Afghan human rights organizations to call for a thorough investigation of such abuses. “The U.S. government needs to immediately launch comprehensive investigations in all its military units, Special Forces, private security contractors, local mercenaries, and affiliated irregular armed groups in Afghanistan to ensure that no more criminal ‘kill teams’ exist,” the independent human rights watchdog, Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM), urged this week.

Speaking to RFE/RL from the Afghan capital, Kabul, ARM director Ajamal Samadi says that Morlock’s sentencing was a welcome sign. But Samadi presses Washington to further investigate similar incidents to bring an end to the “criminal immunity” that he says is available to a wide array of Afghan and international forces, armed contractors, and private militias.

“It is extremely difficult to attribute the crimes that take place in Afghanistan to certain military groups. That is the biggest problem,” Samadi says. “If you travel to parts of Afghanistan where conflict is more intense, people will tell you all sorts of stories: crimes committed by foreign soldiers, by Afghan forces, [and] by the militias. So we believe the environment is extremely criminalized in Afghanistan in a way. All sorts of crimes are happening and the civilians are paying a very, very high price in this conflict.”

Accountability

Afghan observers say the sentence is likely to raise Afghan hopes for answers to their calls for accountability of all armed actors in their country. On March 23, military Judge Hawks also ruled that Morlock will be eligible for parole in about seven years. Morlock will be dishonorably discharged from the army.

Earlier, Morlock read a statement apologizing to the victims’ families and the “people of Afghanistan,” adding, “I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how I lost my moral compass.”

Abdul Rahman Hotaki, the head of Afghan Organization of Human Rights and Environmental Protection, says that Morlock’s sentence is not equal to his confessed crime of killing unarmed civilians. Nevertheless, he says, it shows Afghans that their blood is not cheap and that abuses committed by international forces are being addressed.

“We hope that people who have committed human rights abuses by torturing prisoners in Bagram or have killed and tortured people in other provinces will be similarly brought into international and American courts,” Hotaki says. “This will serve as a lesson for forces still operating in the theater.”

Hotaki says that efforts to address abuses by international forces could raise the esteem of Afghans and help bridge a widening gulf with the administration in Kabul.

Afghan presidential spokesman Wahid Omar has offered similar sentiments. Speaking to RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan, he streses the need for continued greater accountability on the part of international troops.

“If the United States of America wants to be friendly with Afghan people and government and wants to have a presence in this country,” Omar says, “then they should put an end to operations which result in civilian casualties.”

More pics from Der Spiegel:

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  • palestinian

    arabs and muslems only can kill ??

    what about those photo,s
    nok it off < if an terrost kill or do something : everybody says muslems

    why ?? are the only people in the world ??

  • curious

    And Americans always wonder why there is so much hatred of them in invaded Islamic countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan?? Afghans no matter which tribe or group who sees and hears of such atrocities will automatically relate America and Americans with invading murderers. They will then convince themselves that Americans trully are unhuman people who come in and reck havoc in their already damaged country.

  • Abdulmajid

    Well, the placement officer who acceptghed those scum in the army should resign his commission and turnin his uniform. And those scum should be drummed out, in public, their buttonsd and insignia should be ripped off their uniform and they should be made to take it off before they are drummed out.
    I have heard of the many cases where in and after 1945 Soviet soldiers went out and raped German women and girls; I also know that even though they were incited by Soviet propaganist Ilja Ehrenburg to do that, as opposed to what happened in Bosnia there were no standing orders nor plans that the Soviet soldiers should systematically rape the German women as the Serbs did in Bosnia. What I do happen to know is that Soviet officers tried to put a stop to such behavior (not always but there were those who did) and even shot or hanged those of their own soldiers and were vindicated – Dang! I wish some US or NATO officer had had the courage to do this. Such scum do not belong in the Army. Were I an officer on the ground I would have done exactly that, but before I would really have ripped their insignia off and made them strip off the uniform because they are not worthy of wearing it, and then I would have left their bodies for the buzzards and foxes to eat. Or for the bereaved Afghans to rip to pieces. Of course that would then at least cost me my career if not much more but then I would feel ashamed to be in an army that tolerates this.

  • Dave

    Was Abu Ghraib simply an Iraq issue? Is this simply an Afghanistan issue? Or is there something seriously wrong with the kind of training, or lack thereof, being offered to US military personnel. Have a look at these pictures. Would you feel comfortable living next to that ‘soldier’? I wouldn’t want him anywhere near me or my loved-ones.

    These ‘people’, serving in our military, representing our nation, have serious mental issues. And they’ve been given free leave to act out their evil little fantasies with impunity. No wonder we’re losing this war. If our civilian government and our military apparatus spent half as much time and resources getting to the root causes of these issues as they do covering them up, we’d be onto a winner. For a start, I say any soldier suspected be handed over to the local court and be subject to local trial and punishment. That should send the right message to these loonies.

    Don’t forget, what goes around comes back home after his/her tour of duty and may live next door to you or your loved-ones.

  • eTERMINATOR

    @ Jack Cope – nice words! We have to stop this race thing, it will be the death of us. We are all human beings, we all bleed. If ever there was a time to stand our ground together, believe me, it is now. We have one chance and one chance only to stop a third world war……just please try to imagine what such a war would be like! It would be worse than anything that has gone before! Forget about colour, religion – let’s just try to unite to defeat this evil…..it is the only chance we have left!

  • Spot on Leah!

  • DrM

    @AJ,

    Ofcourse Uncle Sam is there to fight for the Hazara(shia minority, not that they know or care), women’s rights just in …er Bahrain?

  • AJ

    Percey I have some advice for you. Get off your living room sofa, turn off your faux news, buy a ticket to Peshawar and visit just one of the thousands of Afghan refugee camps littered all over the place and ask any one, Pashtuns or Hazara, who the villians and who the victims are and you will find the truth.

  • AJ

    Americans are there for the plight of Hazara, women, etc…..what crock and BS.

  • Leah

    They invade their country, kill their innocent for sport, take body parts as trophies, brag about American freedoms….after one year, only after they are exposed, the only thing the Afghan families get….a public apology. How sincere?

  • Well Percey you seem decent enough to me, but it feels that at times you are looking for verbal fisticuffs rather than debate. For instance, you point out that I was ‘race baiting’ with no due reason becuase I wasn’t. Heck I had to look up what ‘race baiting’ was just now!

    Anyway, doesn’t matter, I think we largely agree but you don’t see it for some reason. What does matter is that this will be recruiting material for OBL and that incidents like this may well increase as they did in previous conflicts like Korea and Vietnam, once it does, there is no chance. Tactics need to change now, like they should have done years ago.

    Ever read anything by Rābi’a bint Ka’b al-Quzdārī?

  • Percey

    “Isn’t that your whole modus operandi, Petro? To put words into others’ mouths, as exemplified by your accusations that Loonwatch supported the Armenian genocide because they mentioned the Tanzimat reforms.”

    Nowhere did I say that they supported the genocide; my argument is that they were distorting history by the way they presented the reforms.

    ” You certainly can’t blame us; even in your recent posts you mention the Hazaras, Confederates,”

    I mention the Hazara because their plight is a central Afghan issue and I mentioned Confederates to show how the inaccuracy of the concept of defensive jihadis.

    “Your exact words were: “All the more reason to reject religion in general.”

    No honest person would consider that to be a call to genocide.

    “Regarding the Taliban: Just because you disagree with them doesn’t mean the Taliban don’t view their struggle as defensive.”

    Most fascists and other scum saw themselves as defenders, the neo-Chetniks thought they were defending Serbia against jihad.

    “What does this say about your reading comprehension?”

    This from the guy who lacks reading comprehension?

    “Yes, I know the Taliban are bad, but none of what you’re writing about is of relevance to the article’s veracity. ”

    I brought the hazara to attack the view that the Taliban are simply lashing out against eviiiiil america, if that was the case why the attempted of Hazara people? What does that have to do with “resisting imperialism?”

    ” Again, the fact remains that crimes like the ones highlighted in the article become effective propaganda tools for groups like the Taliban.”

    No argument there.

    “Did you even read the article?”

    Yes, your quote shows the context of this atrocity; remember the taliban killed far more civilians the fact that the US has killed so few and that the worst atrocities were caused by renegades shows that the US is not conducting a scorched earth campaign.

    “The story went on to point out that the Taliban was culpable for “more than three-fourths of all civilian casualties”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2285025/

  • NassirH

    “No I don’t think that all; I believe in secularism and religious freedom you cannot seem to argue against me without twisting my words.”

    Isn’t that your whole modus operandi, Petro? To put words into others’ mouths, as exemplified by your accusations that Loonwatch supported the Armenian genocide because they mentioned the Tanzimat reforms. I do believe that others have pointed out the logical fallacies you engage in, namely moving goalposts, stawman, etc. You certainly can’t blame us; even in your recent posts you mention the Hazaras, Confederates,

    Your exact words were: “All the more reason to reject religion in general.”

    Regarding the Taliban: Just because you disagree with them doesn’t mean the Taliban don’t view their struggle as defensive. Note that I said “despite their brutality, the Taliban regard their war as defensive.” Notwithstanding this, you continued to write about the Hazaras. What does this say about your reading comprehension? Yes, I know the Taliban are bad, but none of what you’re writing about is of relevance to the article’s veracity. Again, the fact remains that crimes like the ones highlighted in the article become effective propaganda tools for groups like the Taliban. That the Taliban massacred Hazaras before the war doesn’t change this fact. All this begs the question: Did you even read the article?

    “It is extremely difficult to attribute the crimes that take place in Afghanistan to certain military groups. That is the biggest problem,” Samadi says. “If you travel to parts of Afghanistan where conflict is more intense, people will tell you all sorts of stories: crimes committed by foreign soldiers, by Afghan forces, [and] by the militias. So we believe the environment is extremely criminalized in Afghanistan in a way. All sorts of crimes are happening and the civilians are paying a very, very high price in this conflict.”

  • Percey

    “Many Afghans are actually Sufi in their leaning, something that runs directly against Taliban teachings.”

    Hence the Taliban bombings of Sufi shrines.

    ” You seem to put words in people’s mouths quite often, sometimes when the revers has been stated, why?”

    I try to avoid that, if you have difficulty communicating that is your problem.

    “No, I just speak to plenty of Afghans and know their culture. Do you?”

    Yes I love their tradition of poetry, although I do not know too many Afghans.

    “And I don’t get the Obama bit, seems irrelevant.”

    I was pointing out that race baiting doesn’t really work up against a multi-racial government.

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