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Afghan Probe Finds 15-20 US Soldiers Involved In Kandahar Killings

Posted by The Agonist on March 16th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Updated below the fold

Obviously, this is directly contradictory to the Pentagon’s version of events (hat tip – b)- and includes a very direct threat:

A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.

…[Chairman of the Parliamentary National Security and Internal Affairs Commission Hamidzai Lali] told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.

…“The villages are one and a half kilometre from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

Lali asked the Afghan government, the United Nations and the international community to ensure the perpetrators were punished in Afghanistan.

…The lawmaker said the Wolesi Jirga would not sit silent until the killers were prosecuted in Afghanistan. “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians,” Lali warned.

How to square the circle? Here’s some pure speculation. I think its possible there’s a mix-up on dates when the suspect’s lawyer says a friend had his leg blown off the day before the massacre. I think perhaps it was 3 days before – conforming to one early report soldiers had put village kids against a wall and threatened revenge after an IED. I think it’s possible there was a decision made somehow (drawing lots?) that one guy would take the fall for his buddies, knowing otherwise they’d all be in it up to their necks. Its a gut feeling, no real evidence, but something here stinks and, frankly, I think Afghans have been in general far more reliable about their accounts of civilian killings than the Pentagon has.

Update Karzai has noted what he says was a lack of co-operation from the US military in the probe and also questioned the official US line.

“On the question of the account of the one person, supposedly, who has done this, the story of the village elders [in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province] and the affected people is entirely different. They believe it is not possible for one person to do that,” Karzai told journalists after the meeting.

…Karzai said his investigators did not find the US surveillance video they were shown convincing. The army chief of staff reported to the meeting that a key US commander had not returned his calls while he was investigating the attack.

“The Afghan investigation team did not receive the co-operation that they expected from the United States, therefore these are all questions that [we] will be raising, and raising very loudly and raising very clearly,” Karzai said, referring to whether the killer acted alone.

Afghans were weary of killings by foreign troops after “hundreds” of civilian casualty incidents, he told the meeting, a point he underlined when he told US President Barack Obama in a morning phone call that his call for foreign forces to leave Afghan villages was serious.

And if Obama and the Pentagon refuse to heed Karzai’s call to withdraw to ISAF’s main bases I assume the threat to have the Jirga name ISAF an occupier like the Russians would then come into effect.

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