Karzai wants custody of Afghan prisoners & control of military operations
Karzai asks US to cede Afghan control
Sunday 22 May 2005, 9:55 Makka Time, 6:55 GMT
Shocked by a US army report on detainee abuse in
Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has said his
government wants custody of all prisoners and control
over US military operations.
The abuse described in the report, including details
of the deaths of two inmates at an Afghan detention
centre, occurred in 2002 and emerged from a nearly
2000-page file of US army investigators, The New York
Times reported on Friday.
"It has shocked me thoroughly and we condemn it,"
Karzai said. "We want the US government to take very,
very strong action, to take away people like that."
Karzai, a staunch ally in the US-led war against
terrorism, is due to leave on a US trip later on
Saturday. He will meet President George Bush for talks
Karzai wants to forge a broad long-term partnership
with his most important ally, but said he would
reiterate a request for the return of Afghan prisoners
and control over US military operations.
The US commands a foreign force in Afghanistan of
about 18,300, most of them American, fighting the
Taliban and searching for Osama bin Laden.
Many Afghans have criticised US troops for what are
seen as heavy-handed tactics, such as breaking into
people's homes in the middle of the night.
Growing resentment against US forces was partly behind
violent anti-American protests last week, analysts
The protests were sparked by a report that US army
interrogators had desecrated the Quran. Sixteen people
were killed and many wounded in violence in several
That report by Newsweek was later retracted, but the
International Committee of the Red Cross subsequently
said it had told the Pentagon of reports that US
personnel had mishandled the Quran in 2002.
Karzai said searches should be carried out in
cooperation with Afghan forces.
"No operations inside Afghanistan should take place
without the consultation of the Afghan government," he
"They should not go to our people's homes any more
without the knowledge of the Afghan government ... If
they want any person suspected in a house, they should
let us know and the Afghan government would arrange
Karzai said he would also ask for "the return of
prisoners to Afghanistan, all of them".
The US is holding more than 500 prisoners from its war
on terrorism at the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba.
Many of them were detained in Afghanistan after US-led
troops overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001.
The US army report centres on the death of a
22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar and that
of another detainee, Habib Allah, who died at the US
base at Bagram, north of Kabul, six days earlier in
According to the report, Dilawar was chained by his
wrists to the top of his cell for several days before
he died and his legs had been pummelled by guards.
"The file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in
repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment,
which has resulted in criminal charges against seven
soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths," The New
York Times said.
In sworn statements to army investigators, soldiers
described mistreatment ranging from a female
interrogator stepping on a detainee's neck and kicking
another in the genitals to a shackled prisoner being
made to kiss the boots of interrogators, according to
US officials have characterised incidents of prisoner
abuse at Bagram in 2002 as isolated problems that were
thoroughly investigated, the newspaper said.
Two army interrogators have been reprimanded and seven
soldiers have been charged, the newspaper said.