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Issue #1893      November 6, 2019

CIA-funded militia accused of war crimes in Afghanistan

CIA-FUNDED militia forces in Afghanistan have been accused of war crimes including extra-judicial killings and the targeting of clinics, according to health workers on the ground.

Soldiers in a secretive pro-Afghan government militia known simply as “01” have “committed summary executions and other grave abuses without accountability,” a report from an NGO suggests.

The clandestine unit allegedly operates mainly in central Afghanistan, including in Wardak, Logar and Ghazni provinces.

Witnesses say soldiers from the 01 conduct night-time raids in villages across the region are leaving “a trail of death and destruction” as they target civilians in their reign of terror.

Responsibility for the 01 lies with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. But the shadowy outfit is trained and directed by the CIA.

In March, 01 strike forces attacked a Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) run clinic in Wardak where witnesses said soldiers lined them up against a wall accusing them of aiding the Taliban.

A health worker, known only as Hashmatullah to protect his safety, told investigative journalism website the Intercept that he had heard English being used by the 01 militia.

“We know when they use English, that they’re foreigners,” he said.

It is known that the CIA has run counter-terrorism operations separate from the US military since the 2001 invasion and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan.

As the security situation continues to deteriorate, US spooks have continued to arm, train and deploy paramilitary organisations – described as “death squads” to target “militants” across the country.

Intelligence operations sit outside the US law which bans its government from using its funds to train or arm foreign military groups when it is known they are committing serious human rights abuses.

The SCA clinic has also been threatened by the Taliban who warned there would be “consequences” if they didn’t close all 42 of its Wardak clinics located in territory under their control following a raid in July.

Health workers are accused of treating injured and sick members of the Taliban, while locals are accused of offering the jihadist group food and shelter.

But witnesses say the situation is more complicated, with hospitality part of local custom mixed with a need to survive.

Human Rights Watch director Patricia Gossman said the units were “responsible for extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances, indiscriminate air strikes, attacks on medical facilities, and other violations of international humanitarian law or the laws of war.”

The SCA has demanded an investigation into the abuses, but warns that accountability is seriously lacking and difficult to achieve due to the secretive nature of the operations.

Morning Star

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