The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Is Iraq also to create a distraction from this massacre? (apartfrom oil ...)

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

In German TV documentary:

Afghan officials confirm US role in massacre of Taliban prisoners

By Stefan Steinberg
17 March 2003

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author
On March 6, the German television programme Panorama presented fresh
evidence implicating US troops in the massacre of Taliban prisoners during
the 2001 war in Afghanistan. Shown on the ARD channel, the programme
presented footage, including interviews with two Afghan government ministers
who confirmed the presence of American troops during the transportation and
killing of surrendered Taliban prisoners.
A documentary film made by Scottish director Jamie Doran‹shown in an
uncompleted form to members of the European Parliament and other selected
audiences in Europe last June‹presented the first public charges of American
involvement in war crimes in Afghanistan.
Doran¹s film documents events following the November 21, 2001 fall of
Konduz, the Taliban¹s last stronghold in northern Afghanistan. The film
presents a series of witnesses who testify that American military forces
participated in the armed assault and killing of several hundred Taliban
prisoners in the Qala-i-Janghi fortress. Witnesses also allege that,
following the events at Qala-i-Janghi, the American army command, together
with troops of the Northern Alliance, were complicit in the killing and
disposal of a further 3,000 prisoners, out of a total of 8,000 who
surrendered after the battle of Konduz.
Hundreds of prisoners died of suffocation in the course of transportation in
closed containers to the prison of Shibarghan. The transport finally ended
in a stretch of desert known as Dasht-i-Leili, near Mazar-i-Sharif, where
dead bodies were unloaded and several hundred prisoners who were still alive
were shot to death.
The US State Department has consistently denied any American involvement in
the massacre of prisoners in the desert near Mazar-i-Sharif by forces loyal
to the commander of the Northern Alliance, General Rashid Dostun. Dostun was
the closest ally of American forces in November 2001 when fighting in
Afghanistan reached its peak.
Following the showing of the rough cut of Doran¹s film the Pentagon issued a
June 13, 2002 statement denying US complicity in the torture and murder of
POWs. The US State Department followed suit with a formal denial one day
In December of last year, Doran¹s completed film Massacre in Afghanistan‹Did
the Americans Look On? was shown to German audiences. The film has already
been shown in Britain and Italy and has been bought for showing in a total
of 11 other countries. The American media has blocked virtually all coverage
of the film and its allegations. The film was recently released, however, on
video‹titled Afghan Massacre‹Convoy of Death, available from Doran¹s
production company at
Prior to the German broadcast, a State Department spokesman, Larry Schwartz,
declared: ³It is a mystery to us why a respected television channel is
showing a documentary in which the facts are completely wrong and which
unfairly depicts the US mission in Afghanistan.² Following the December
transmission, State Department officials once again denied any involvement
by US troops in the killing of Taliban prisoners.
Now the allegations raised in Doran¹s film have been confirmed for the first
time by Afghan government officials. German reporters accompanied a small
team representing the German parliamentary committee for Human Rights to
Afghanistan on a trip to investigate the background to the events in
Mazar-i-Sharif. In the course of their research, the reporters were able to
briefly interview Rashid Dostun, who now occupies the post of joint Deputy
Defence Minister of Afghanistan.
In the interview, Dostun acknowledged that the killing of prisoners had
taken place. He was not prepared to be drawn out, however, on the role
played by US troops in these killings. Dostun shares the deputy post at the
Afghan Defence Ministry with another general, Atig ullah Barialei, who was
much more forthright and conceded that American troops were in attendance at
this massacre.
Barialei stated in an interview with Panorama reporters at the Defence
Ministry that, in his opinion, what had taken place in the desert was a war
crime, and he confirmed that ³at all the incidents which took place,
American troops were present.²
Barialei¹s charge was confirmed by Afghanistan¹s Interior Minister Taj
Muhammed Wardak. Wardak acknowledged that unarmed prisoners had been killed
in an operation that he called an ³accident². Wardak went on to acknowledge
that US troops were present during both the transportation and killing of
the prisoners. Shortly after his interview with Panorama, Wardak resigned
his post as interior minister for reasons that remain unclear.
In a comment for the Panorama programme, Christa Nickels, representing the
German parliamentary committee for Human Rights, stated that she was
convinced beyond any doubt that a massacre of prisoners had taken place. The
prisoners had previously been disarmed, and their killing was in blatant
violation of international law. She added that the statements made by Afghan
government officials served to reinforce allegations that American Special
Forces troops were present during the killings.
The United Nations had agreed to organise a fullscale investigation of the
events at Mazar-i-Sharif this spring, but according to a representative of
Physicians for Human Rights interviewed in the Panorama documentary, there
is little chance of such a probe ever taking place. No agreement has been
reached with the government of Afghanistan for the protection of those who
would do the investigating, and the UN is displaying little willingness to
ensure on its own that suitable protection be made available.
Since Doran¹s film was completed, two of the eyewitnesses who testified on
camera to seeing US soldiers at the scene of the killings have themselves
been murdered. Other witnesses and co-workers of the filmmaker have received
death threats.
The Panorama documentary ends with recent footage of the desert where the
massacre took place. There are indications of digging suggesting that an
attempt is underway to destroy the evidence of a war crime. The film¹s
narrator warns that a forthcoming war in Iraq, with all its new attendant
horrors, could serve to finally distract all attention from the involvement
of US forces in the war crimes carried out at Mazar-i-Sharif.
See Also:
Afghan Massacre‹Convoy of Death available on video
Film exposing Pentagon war crimes premieres in US
[12 February 2003]
Newsweek exposé of war crimes in Afghanistan whitewashes US role
[4 September 2002]
The Geneva Convention and the US massacre of POWs in Afghanistan
[7 December 2001]
Top of page
Readers: The WSWS invites your comments. Please send e-mail.


Copyright 1998-2003
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]