Two weeks ago, Hamid Karzai expelled U.S. Special Forces from Wardak province. This was over claims of killings, disappearances, and torture by U.S. Special Forces and associated Afghan militias:
At a press conference in the Afghan capital on Sunday, Aimal Faizi, presidential spokesman, said US special forces were responsible for furthering "insecurity and instability" Maidan Wardak.
"In today's [weekly] national security council meeting, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the ministry of defence to kick out the US special forces from Wardak ... within two weeks," Faizi said.
Faizi said "misconduct" by people linked to the US special forces in Wardak included the beheading of a student and the capture of nine missing locals.
Karzai expels US forces from Afghan province, Al Jazeera, 25 Feb 2013
Two days after masked men burst in to Bibi Shereen's house and took her son away, villagers found his corpse - half-eaten by dogs - under a bridge in Afghanistan's volatile Wardak province.Or, tried to expel them. Recent reporting says U.S. Special Forces are still there:
"His fingers were cut off, he was badly beaten. His hands were swollen, his throat was slit," she told Reuters in her small mudbrick house.
"Why is the government not listening to our voices - why are they not stopping Americans from doing such things."
Afghan move against U.S. special forces tied to abuse allegations, Dylan Welch and Hamid Shalizi, Reuters, 26 February 2013
Attaullah Khogiani, spokesman for the governor of Wardak province, told IPS Saturday that the U.S. SOF unit is still in its base in Maidan Shar district, and that a joint U.S. SOF-Afghan government investigating team looking into complaints by Wardak’s population about Afghan armed men linked to the SOF unit has demanded more time.
The Karzai government has given the team three days to complete its investigation, but the team is saying it needs more time than that, according to Khogiani. The joint team is meeting with the families of victims of the crimes by the mysterious armed force in the province that has been blamed on the SOF, he told IPS in an interview.
SOF Troops Still in Wardak as Joint US-Afghan Probe Continues, Shah Noori and Gareth Porter, Inter Press Services, 11 March 2013
Reports of abuse by U.S. Special Forces and associated Afghan militias are not at all new. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report gives considerable attention to a program in Wardak.
Here are the local strongmen that U.S. Special Forces had selected to empower:
Ghulam Mohammad and his brother Haji Musa Hotak are significant local figures with strong Jihadi credentials, having previously been involved with the Taliban and the Islamist party Harakat-i-Inqilab-iIslami. Ghulam Mohammad was detained by US Forces in 2004 and spent two years in the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Haji Musa Hotak was a commander of Harakat-i-Inqilab-iIslami, a deputy minister in the Taliban government, and a member of parliament for Wardak province from 2005-2010. Hotak was delisted from the UN’s sanction list in January 2010.Hamid Karzai has accused the U.S. of effectively colluding with the Taliban to incite violence. The U.S. has denied this:
Just Don't Call It a Militia, Human Rights Watch, September 2011, page 43
At the daily White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Jay Carney said: "Any suggestion that the US is colluding with the Taliban is categorically false. Secretary Hagel addressed the questions with president Karzai in their meeting."The claim might be considered conspiratorial or outlandish:
White House: claims of US collusion with Taliban 'categorically false', Ewen MacAskill, Guardian, 11 March 2013
The perception that U.S.-sponsored militias from outside the province are committing widespread abuses has spawned conspiratorial explanations in Wardawk.But the Human Rights Watch description of our selected Wardak strongmen is worth rereading, in assessing the claim.
Police officer and village elder Rahman said he believes the SOF units are deliberately allowing the people they trained to carry out actions to “make people in the province insecure”, so that “the people will react strongly.”
Previous allegations of abuse in Wardak have fallen on deaf ears:
Elders interviewed from Wardak had made a number of complaints, which they said had little impact. Ajmal B., described the activities of three commanders in his village, which included theft of money, clothing, and mobile phones at checkpoints:The new allegations are being taken "seriously":
We went to complain to the government. We went to the chief of police. We told them they were looting. But they said bring us evidence. I told them I didn’t have any way to film this. Ten or fifteen elders went to see them. We said this is the evidence, you should trust us.Just Don't Call It a Militia, Human Rights Watch, September 2011, page 48
A US statement said it took all allegations of misconduct seriously.Regular U.S. forces will be withdrawing Afghanistan by 2014.
The U.S. plan for security after withdraw emphasizes U.S. Special Forces and associated Afghan militias.