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Afghanistan: US forces carry out cold-blooded murder at Kandahar hospital

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    Assalamu alaikum Afghanistan: US forces carry out cold-blooded murder at Kandahar hospital By Peter Symonds 1 February 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2002
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      Afghanistan: US forces carry out cold-blooded murder at Kandahar hospital

      By Peter Symonds 1 February 2002


      In a one-sided battle in Kandahar on Monday, a US-led military force shot
      and killed six foreign Taliban supporters who had been barricaded into a
      ward of the Mirwais hospital since early December. The US military put the
      incident down to the intransigence of the six and their desire to be
      Islamic martyrs. But if one strips away the obfuscations, half-truths and
      bald-faced lies, what took place was another case of cold-blooded murder.

      According to the official account, the whole operation was carried out by
      100 Afghan militia belonging to Kandahar governor Gul Agha Shirzaiadvised
      by squad of US special forces and snipers. An initial attack on the Arabs
      began in the early hours of the morning and was driven back.

      Another assault began around 1.45pm. Snipers crawled into position,
      soldiers broke in through the hospital windows and the sound of stun
      grenades, pistol fire and automatic weapons was heard by journalists
      gathered outside. Three quarters of an hour later, it was all over. The
      result: all six Al Qaeda were dead; several Afghan militiamen were
      wounded, one seriously.

      Major Chris Miller, the US officer-in-charge, told journalists: Up to the
      last minute, we told every man to surrender. But none of them listened.
      These Arabs fought to the death. Khalid Pashtun, senior adviser to Gul
      Agha, parroted the same line: It is all over. They fought until the last
      drop of their blood. We gave them an ultimatum and we said their lives
      would be spared, but they would not listen. We had no other choice.

      As far as Miller and the US military were concerned, the case was
      closedthe Arabs got what they wanted... and deserved. Some of his troops
      were sporting I love New York badges and New York Yankee baseball capsan
      indication that they were out for revenge... and got it.

      What really took place?

      It is not possible to answer every question from the available press
      reports. All of the articles, in one way or another, echo the official
      positionhardened Islamic terrorists... intent on becoming martyrs... died
      as a result. Nothing is rigorously questioned or probed. Any more critical
      observations appear as afterthoughts or nagging doubts. Even by sifting
      these accounts, however, a different story emerges.

      Who were these six and were they Al Qaeda members?

      According to one of the hospital staff, Dr Musa, they were all young
      menbetween 17 and 25. They were what remained of a group of 19 wounded
      foreign Taliban fighters trapped in the hospital in early December,
      following the collapse of the previous regime. The rest had fled, had been
      killed or arrested. Those who remained were the most seriously injured.

      The labels Al Qaeda, international terrorist, and Arab are applied so
      interchangeably in the media to all foreign Taliban supporters that it is
      impossible to say what their affiliations were with any certainty.
      Reportedly the six came from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Yemen. Their age
      indicates that the majority, if not all, were not hardened Al Qaeda
      members, but impressionable young men who came to Afghanistan seeking to
      defend the Taliban regime. The very fact that they were left behind
      indicates their insignificance to Osama bin Laden.

      Why did they hold out?

      A number of reasons may have influenced their unwillingness to surrender,
      not least the reputation of newly installed governor and US ally Gul Agha.
      An article in the New York Times on January 6 describes the warlord as a
      backward thug who rules his own militia with bullying and beatings, and
      metes out far worse to his enemies. Before marching on Kandahar, he had
      exhorted his troops to show no mercy to Arabs and Pakistanis and had been
      good to his word when he slaughtered foreign Taliban supporters at
      Kandahar airport.

      The six Taliban supporters were boxed into a corner. Two of their fellow
      Arabsin fact Uighurs from Chinahad been tricked by hospital staff and
      captured. Two weeks ago, at the instigation of the US military, the
      hospital had cut off their food suppliesa move that the Red Cross
      condemned as inhumane. According to the hospitals catering manager,
      Mohammad Rasul, they had only one Russian-made pistol and a number of
      grenades... some were badly wounded. One had lost a leg and others had
      been hit in the stomach.

      It is not even clear that the six understood the calls for their surrender
      on Monday. Gul Aghas spokesman explained that they had been hailed through
      loudspeakers but failed to say in what language. As if by way of an
      afterthought, he added that they had been sent a videotape in Arabic
      calling on them to give up.

      Did they fight to the death?

      To what extent any genuine fight took place is highly questionable. Having
      botched the first attack, the US and Afghan troops called up fire engines
      to pump water into the rooms where the Arabs were holed up. A debate took
      place about the efficacy of electrocuting the six by placing live wires in
      the water. That was ruled outperhaps it would have appeared too much like
      murder. So a second assault was prepared and successfully carried out.

      Several press reports raise doubts that the US-led force ever intended to
      capture the six alive. According to a Reuters article, the first police
      statement announced that only two were dead. An update followed minutes
      later, after fresh firing, that all were dead. An Independent journalist
      in Kandahar commented: The truth is not clear. Four Afghan soldiers were
      wounded by grenade fragments or bullets and the rest may not have been in
      a mood to take prisoners.

      The scene after the shoot-out points to a further discrepancy. A local
      Afghan journalist managed to enter the rooms and produced a videotape of
      the scene which showed six bodies riddled with bullets on the floor. Three
      of those who were fighting to the death were found huddled under two beds.

      What part did the US play?

      Major Miller told the press: Strictly advise and assist was our role. Even
      on the available evidence the comment is a direct lie. The US special
      forces had been training the Afghan militia for just a week. American
      snipers were on the spot. The New York Times reported: Figures in the
      jackets and khakis worn by special forces were visible in the thick of the
      action. An Associated Press reporter saw at least one throwing explosives.
      According to Reuters, an American could clearly be heard shouting orders.

      More significant, however, is the shadowy presence of Americans out of
      uniform. A New York Times article revealed that an American in
      plainclothes was directing operations in the hospital ward after the
      assault. At 6.15 pm, a convoy of pickup trucks left the hospital compound,
      at least one of them adorned with an I love New York bumper sticker.
      Plainclothes Americans carrying M-16 assault rifles rode in the backs of
      several of the trucks... It is not clear where the bodies were taken.

      It is an open secret that the CIA has been active in southern Afghanistan
      since September 11, working alongside warlords such as Gul Agha. But why
      should they and the US military be so keen to make off with six bodies?
      This bizarre twist to events perhaps points to the reason for the
      operation and its timing. The standoff at Kandahar hospital did not pose
      any significant military danger but it had become an acute political
      embarrassment to governor Gul Agha and his US advisers.

      A Washington Post article explained: Many local Afghans had previously
      expressed sympathy for the barricaded Arabs, and there was widespread
      public opposition to the decision to stop providing them with food...
      After the food supplies were cut off, there were frequent reports that
      civilians, doctors and some Afghan soldiers guarding the hospital were
      bringing in food surreptitiously.

      Moreover, there is rising hostility in the area to the arbitrary attacks
      of the US military, which are continuing to take a heavy toll in civilian
      lives. Only last week, US special forces attacked two compounds at Hazar
      Qadam, some 100km north of Kandahar, killing about 15 people and taking
      another 27 prisoners. Locals, however, insist that the Taliban had already
      departed and that the dead belonged to a local militia. Moreover, they
      accused the US soldiers of executing several prisonerstwo bodies were
      found in the rubble with their hands bound behind their backs.

      The Pentagon continues to maintain that the target was an Al Qaeda
      leadership facility and that the special forces had not been misled by
      rivals to the local tribe. Speaking from US Central Command in Florida,
      Major Bill Harrison sought to reassure the media that the US military had
      other sources of informationU-2 planes, satellite reconnaissance, Predator
      drones and electronic surveillance aircraft. He declined to explain,
      however, how any of these sophisticated techniques had determined who was
      present at two compounds in remote rural Afghanistan.

      At any rate, explanations that are simply bald denials carry very little
      weight with the family, friends and clan members of the victims. A number
      of such outrages have led to a rapid escalation of public resentment
      against the US military presence. In that context, the six fighters
      barricaded in the Kandahar hospital threatened to become a focus for the
      growing anger and a decision was taken to liquidate them.

      The wounded Taliban supporters had been left to their own devices for
      weekslargely because this particular military problem could not be solved
      with a cruise missile or a load of bombs from a B-52. Any attack had to
      take place in the middle of a busy cityin the public glare.

      So the military operation had to be carefully prepared, along with the
      necessary cover story. Thus the week of training, the pat story delivered
      to assembled journalists... and the cleanup operation by the CIA and its
      helpers. In such a situation, no evidence could be left behind that would
      in any way contradict the official version of events.

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      The CIA Bin Laden "confession tape is a fake:

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