American War Crimes: "Terrorist" Nuns
- "Terrorist" Nuns
IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
Fri. Oct. 10, 2008
CAIRO — Joining protests against US President George W. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two American nuns finally found themselves on the country's terrorist watch list.
"This term terrorist is a really serious accusation," Sister Ardeth Platte told The Washington Times on Friday, October 10.
Ardeth and Sister Carol Gilbert received letters from the Maryland State Police that they are placed on the terrorist watch list.
"There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists," said Ardeth, a nun for 54 years.
"We are nonviolent. We are faith-based."
The two nuns are known for anti-war activities.
In 2002, they were jailed after breaking into an unmanned missile site in northeastern Colorado in protest over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
"We're Dominicans; our mission is 'veritas,' which is truth," said Sister Carol.
The Bush administration calls its watch list one of the most effective tools in its "war against terrorism."
The list was initially limited to criminals and drug traffickers, but an executive order by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks expanded it to include terror suspects.
The record, compiled and overseen by the FBI, can be used by a wide range of government agencies in security screening.
The names are put on "no-fly" or "selectee" lists in US airports that subject them to travel bans, arrest or additional screening.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the US watch list has ballooned to one million records.
The nuns were among 53 anti-war activists on the watch list, which activists believe is a broader effort to control Maryland's protest community.
"It is clear to us that the full extent of the MSP's improper activities have yet to be fully disclosed," said David Rocah, a staff attorney for ACLU, which represented the nuns in the effort to obtain information on the spying.
E-mails released by ACLU show that Baltimore police were coordinating with the National Security Agency in 2003 and 2004 to spy on the protest group Quakers, who routinely protested outside the security agency's headquarters.
A police spokesman declined to answer questions whether the spying was more expansive or involved many other groups, saying he was unsure why the nuns and other activists were on the list.
"The fact there was a record with their name is the reason we're in this situation that were in," said spokesman Greg Shipley.
The two nuns said that the O'Malley administration is brushing off questions about broader police surveillance.
"Think they just want to kind of pooh-pooh it away and say it's no big thing," said Sister Carol, a nun for 43 years.
The nuns said that the government wants to muzzle the anti-war activists.
"Democracy is built on these elements on being able to speak out to speak what we believe is truth," Sister Carol said.
Botched US bombing kills 40 at Afghan wedding party
November 6, 2008
From The Times
Tom Coghlan in Kabul
US troops fighting off a Taleban ambush bombed a wedding party in southern Afghanistan and killed about 40 civilians, mainly women and children, local people and government officials said yesterday.
American officials confirmed last night that an incident was under investigation by the US military and the Afghan Government. Colonel Greg Julian, a US army spokesman, told The Times: “We are taking this very seriously. We are extremely sorry if there have been civilian casualties sustained during this operation. It is the worst possible outcome if civilians are harmed as a result of our trying to defend them.”
He confirmed that US forces had been operating in the Shah Wali Kot area when the alleged incident took place on Monday afternoon, and that airstrikes were called in. Injured people arrived in Kandahar overnight on Monday and hospital officials said that 16 men and dozens of women had been admitted.
Reports from Kandahar suggested that there was a high proportion of women casualties because the wedding was segregated, in accordance with local custom, and airstrikes hit the women’s half. A local reporter who reached the scene said that ten women, four men and 23 children were killed. Some estimates of the dead from local people were much higher.
Civilians who accompanied the wounded to Kandahar city said that US forces had been moving through the mountainous area when their convoy was ambushed. During several hours of fighting American troops and aircraft attacked a mudwalled castle, a common structure in rural Kandahar, where the wedding was taking place. “Taleban attacked the troops. Then the troops bombed our village and killed scores of people. There are still people under rubble,” said Shah Mohammad, who was accompanying the injured to hospital.
Another man in the hospital, Abdul Zahir, 24, said he was the brother of the bride. She was seriously wounded in the attack. He said that the bombing lasted for five hours after the battle broke out. Mr Zahir sat next to a bed containing his three cousins, Noor Ahmad, Hazrat Sadiq and Mohammad Rafiq, aged between 3 and 5, all of whom were wounded in the attack. He said that eight family members died and 14 were injured.
“We are aware that civilians have died in airstrikes conducted by foreign forces in Shah Wali Kot, but at this time we don’t know how many,” Ahmad Wali Karzai, the head of the provincial council in Kandahar and brother of the Afghan President, said.
At a press conference to honour the election of Barack Obama yesterday, President Karzai made a pointed call to curtail the use of bombing by Western forces. “We cannot win the fight against terrorism with airstrikes,” he said. “This is my first demand of the new President of the United States: to put an end to civilian casualties.”
The Taleban issued a press release saying that one of their fighters was killed and two wounded in the fighting. The group claimed to have killed 13 American soldiers and destroyed an armoured vehicle.
US military admits killing 33 civilians in Afghanistan air strike
US expresses regret for deaths last August but blames Taliban for taking position near village
Matthew Weaver and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Thursday October 9 2008 09.32 BST
The US military has admitted killing 33 civilians in an air strike on a village in Afghanistan in August, far more than it has previously acknowledged.
Following the August 22 attack on Azizabad, in Heart province, the Afghan government claimed that 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed. This figure was backed by the UN.
Until now the US has estimated that that no more than seven civilians died in the attack. It launched an inquiry after it emerged that film recorded on mobile phones showed rows of bodies of children and babies in a makeshift morgue.
The inquiry found that of the 33 dead civilians, eight were men, three were women and 12 children. The 10 others were undetermined. It also claimed that 22 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.
The inquiry dismissed the Afghan government's estimate as being over-reliant on statements from villagers.
"Their reports lack independent evidence to support the allegations of higher numbers of civilian casualties," the US report said.
A spokesman for the Afghan government said it stood by its estimate.
The US expressed regret for the civilian losses but blamed the Taliban for having chosen to take up fighting positions near civilians.
"Unfortunately, and unknown to the US and Afghan forces, the (militants) chose fighting positions in close proximity to civilians," the report said.
The acting commander of US forces in the Middle East, Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, said the attack was based on credible intelligence and was made in self-defence.
"We are deeply saddened at the loss of innocent life in Azizabad. We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan in all our operations, but as we have seen all too often, this ruthless enemy routinely surround themselves with innocents," he said.
US central command said its investigation was based on 28 interviews resulting in more than 20 hours of recorded testimony from Afghan government officials, Afghan village elders, officials from non-governmental organisations, US and Afghan troops, 236 documents and 11 videos.
The issue of civilian deaths has outraged Afghans and strained relations with foreign forces which are in Afghanistan to help fight the insurgency. The Afghanistan president, Hamid Karzai, has warned US and Nato for years that they must stop killing civilians on bombing runs against militants, saying the deaths undermine his government and the international mission.
Following the raid on Azizabad Nato's commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, issued revised tactics and procedures for air and ground assaults against insurgents.