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Reuters reports that the United States is launching an investigation into killings and torture of Afghan civilians at a U.S. Special Forces base in Nerkh district, Wardak province, south of Kabul.

The U.S. Army has launched an investigation into claims that its special forces abducted and killed Afghan civilians, allegations Washington has denied, a NATO spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The spokeswoman, U.S. Colonel Jane Crichton, said the commander of ISAF, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, U.S. General Joseph Dunford, had ordered the investigation after an Afghan translator accused the U.S. soldiers had worked with.

U.S. to investigate Afghan's accusations troops murdered civilians, Reuters

Army Criminal Investigation Command will conduct the investigation. Reuters does not actually use the word "torture" in the article about the investigation. It does specifically say that the investigation is into the role of Special Forces soldiers in the Wardak killings.

At issue is some 15 to 18 persons, last seen being taken to the U.S. Special Forces base in Nerkh district.

Villagers in Narkh district, in Wardak province south of Kabul, alleged that dozens of Afghans were rounded up and arrested by U.S. special operations forces late last year. They say nine people were then beaten, tortured and killed.


Afghanistan arrests former US translator
, AP

Bodies were later found dumped near the base, often mutilated.
The footless corpse of an Afghan man missing since November was found on Tuesday near the former American Special Forces base to which he was last seen being taken, according to Afghan officials and victims’ representatives.

Torture Victim’s Body Is Found Near U.S. Base, Afghans Say, New York Times

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.

"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, Reuters

The partial remains of Mohammad Qassim, another of the 15 Afghans, were found in a trash pit just outside the fence around the unit’s base in the Nerkh district, according to Mr. Qassim’s family and Afghan officials.

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians, New York Times

The disappearances started late last year, after a Special Forces A-team had moved to the Nerkh base, coming up from Camp Gecko in Kandahar.
The Special Forces A Team originally moved into its Nerkh district base in Wardak in the autumn of 2012, around the time that a bomb wiped out much of the provincial government center here in Maidan Shahr, the provincial capital. The senior Afghan official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of political sensitivities about the case, said that top Afghan officials understood that the unit had been transferred from Camp Gecko in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians, New York Times

Camp Gecko is a CIA/Special Forces base at Mullah Omar's old house. Afghan militias also operate from there, controlled by such people as Ahmed Wali Karzai, Asadullah Khalid, and Abdul Raziq Achakzai. Accounts of abuse at the base are numerous.

With U.S. Special Forces coming up from Camp Gecko to Wardak was a contract translator, Zakaria Kandahari.

Mr. Kandahari had been transferred to Nerkh from Camp Gecko in Kandahar, which is a C.I.A. substation.
Suspect in Torture Is Arrested in Afghanistan, New York Times
Kandahari's role with the Special Forces unit, and his nationality, are murky in the reporting.

Afghan authorities have a cellphone video of Kandahari beating or torturing one of the victims.

Included in the evidence, the Afghan officials say, is a videotape of Mr. Kandahari torturing one of the 15 Afghans, a man they identified as Sayid Mohammad.

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians, New York Times

After the video turned up, Hamid Karzai tried to expel U.S. Special Forces from Wardak province.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has ordered the withdrawal of US special forces from a restive eastern province in Afghanistan within two weeks.

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


After protracted negotiation between the U.S. and Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces were expelled from the Nerkh district base, but not from Wardak province as a whole.

Afghan authorities asked for the handover of Zakaria Kandahari.

Afghan officials investigated the events in the Nerkh district, and when they concluded that the accusations of misconduct by the team were true, the head of the Afghan military, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, personally asked the American commander at the time, Gen. John R. Allen, to hand Mr. Kandahari over to the Afghan authorities.

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians, New York Times

Kandahari fled.

According to a senior Afghan official, General Allen personally promised General Karimi that the American military would do so within 24 hours, but the promise was not kept, nor was a second promise a day later to hand him over the following morning. “The next morning they said he had escaped from them and they did not know where he was,” the official said.

The American official said the military was not trying to shield Mr. Kandahari. “The S.F. guys tried to pick him up, but he got wind of it and went on the lam, and we lost contact with him,” the official said. “We would have no reason to try to harbor this individual.”

Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians, New York Times

The United States said it had investigated the killings and found no U.S. involvement. Afghan authorities said the United States was not cooperating with any investigation.
Afghan officials ... said they had tried for weeks to get the coalition to cooperate with an investigation into claims that civilians had been killed, abducted or tortured by Afghans working for American Special Operations forces in Maidan Wardak. But the coalition was not responsive, they said.

Afghanistan Bars Elite U.S. Troops From a Key Province, New York Times

After Kandahari fled, the killings of civilians in Wardak continued.
In addition, he said, the abuse of detainees continued even after Mr. Kandahari fled when Mr. Karzai demanded that he be handed over to the Afghan authorities. Four of those who were killed had been arrested after Mr. Kandahari fled, the authorities said.

Interpreter Accused of Torturing and Killing Afghan Civilians Is Arrested, New York Times

In July, Afghanistan announced that Kandahari had been arrested.
The arrest of Mr. Kandahari, who had been sought on charges of murder, torture and abuse of prisoners, was confirmed by Maj. Gen. Manan Farahi, the head of intelligence for the Afghan Defense Ministry. He said Mr. Kandahari, who escaped from an American base in January after President Hamid Karzai demanded his arrest, had been captured in Kandahar by the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence service. There had been speculation for the last three weeks that Mr. Kandahari was in custody.

The arrest of Mr. Kandahari, who had been sought on charges of murder, torture and abuse of prisoners, was confirmed by Maj. Gen. Manan Farahi, the head of intelligence for the Afghan Defense Ministry. He said Mr. Kandahari, who escaped from an American base in January after President Hamid Karzai demanded his arrest, had been captured in Kandahar by the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence service. There had been speculation for the last three weeks that Mr. Kandahari was in custody.

Afghan officials had accused the American military of deliberately allowing Mr. Kandahari to escape, a claim that American officials rejected. American officials said Mr. Kandahari had no longer been working for them at the time and was not an American citizen.

Interpreter Accused of Torturing and Killing Afghan Civilians Is Arrested, New York Times

Afghanistan authorities have arrested a man who they say was a U.S. Special Operations translator who tortured and killed Afghans, accusations that prompted President Hamid Karzai to order the expulsion of U.S. forces from a province near Kabul, officials said Sunday.

Zakaria Kandahari was captured in a house in southern Kandahar during a raid by agents from the National Directorate of Security nearly six weeks ago and has been transferred to Kabul for interrogations, officials said. Officials did not say why they waited to announce Kandahari’s arrest.

The Afghan government issued an order for Kandahari’s arrest after local officials and residents alleged that he kidnapped villagers and executed detainees at a base used by U.S. Special Operations in Wardak province, where Afghan officials say he served as a translator for the forces.

The Kandahar governor’s office described Kandahari as holding Afghan-American citizenship.

Afghans arrest alleged U.S. Special Operations translator on murder, torture charges, Washington Post

Iranian Presstv says Kandahari was found in Aino Mina, a high-security subdivision near Kandahar.
The provincial officials say the US citizen of Afghan origin was detained in the troubled Aino Maina region of southern province of Kandahar on Sunday.

US agent detained in southern Afghanistan, Presstv

In custody, Kandahari has identified three U.S. Special Forces soldiers, who he apparently knows only by first name.
In a three-page document, he told investigators the following:
I was a low-rank translator and had no access to roam around inside the base, or in interrogation rooms.
In the document, he identified three U.S. special forces soldiers known only as "Dave, chief of the operations, Hagen and Chris." Kandahari also said those three men were fluent in Dari and Pashto, which are Afghanistan's major languages. He rejects the allegations that he was involved in any killing of civilians.

Investigators in the case say there is a cell phone video of a Wardak resident, Sayed Mohammad, being beaten by Kandahari. Mohammad later turned up dead, but Kandahari claims he had no part in his death.

He told the investigators, "I also kicked him, (Mohammad), several times while I was taking him to the base. I handed him over to Mr. Dave and Mr. Hagen, but later I saw his body in a black body bag." Afghan officials say that Mohammad's body was found in May with both feet missing.

U.S. special forces accused of ordering torture and killing of civilians, Dothan Marine Corps Examiner

Reuters has seen the interview document, and repeats the detail.
In at least one case, he saw the dead body of a man he had previously handed over to the special forces, the interview document stated.

Afghan investigators have requested access to three U.S. special forces whom Kandhari had identified only as Dave, Hagel and Chris, the interview document said.

U.S. to investigate Afghan's accusations troops murdered civilians, Reuters

The official ISAF announcement of the Army Criminal Investigation Command comes half a year after ISAF became aware of the killings of civilians at the U.S. base.

Originally posted to This Week in Afghanistan on Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 11:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone.

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