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New Taliban Video of US/AU Hostages, Teachers King & Weekes; Asks Trump & Turnbull to Negotiate Release

In Afghanistan, Archive, Australia, Taliban, Terrorism, USA on July 5, 2017 at 6:49 AM

06/21/2017

The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday released a new hostage video of two professors they kidnapped from the American University in Kabul in August 2016.

Kevin King, a 60-year-old American, and Timothy John Weeks, an Australian 48-year-old, are shown against a brown background talking to camera.

In the video, King tells Trump: “Have mercy on me and get me out.” In a later comment he says “please do not send any commandos.”

Weeks then tells Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “speak to the Taliban, negotiate with the Taliban. I know you are able to do this.”

Five gunmen dressed as Afghan military abducted the men last year from an SUV on a main road near the campus of their university in the Afghan capital.

The Taliban released the last video of the pair in January on YouTube, in which both pleaded with President Donald Trump to negotiate with the militants for their release.

In both videos, the location of their filming is unclear and so too are the precise dates that they were filmed. In the 13-minute January video, the pair again pleaded with Trump. “If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed. I don’t want to die here,” Weeks said. The Taliban requested that the U.S. release “prisoners” in return for the professors.

The risk of kidnap in the Afghan capital remains high for foreign nationals, particularly westerners, and many remain confined to Embassy buildings or secured residential compounds. In November, an Australian woman was kidnapped but her location is unknown.

In August 2016, another Australian woman, Kerry Jane Wilson, was released after being held for four months following her kidnap in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. The perpetrators of the kidnaps are unknown in both cases.

The Taliban is also holding American-Canadian couple Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman, kidnapping them in 2012 as they traveled in northern Afghanistan. The pair have two children born in captivity.

Unlike the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which has posted gruesome execution videos of its hostages, the Taliban has appeared to be willing to accept ransom payments or prisoner swaps for the release of its captives.

The U.S. has engaged in prisoner swaps with the Taliban. In 2014, the Taliban-aligned Haqqani group released U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who famously told his story in the podcast Serial, in return for five Taliban prisoners.

Newsweek

Fighting drone wars behind our back: cheap, invisible and risk-free mass murder

In Afghanistan, Britain, Drones, Iraq, News, Pakistan on April 16, 2013 at 3:05 AM

The great advantage of drones for western governments is they can be used without domestic casualties and therefore, they hope, without the risk of popular opposition or protest.

RAF Waddington will soon be the control centre for British drone warfare. It may already be, we can’t be sure.

The fact we don’t know testifies to the secrecy that surrounds the operation of these remote control killing machines. Drones embody the sinister shift that has been taken in the West’s wars post Iraq.

They blur the distinction between war and state execution, with no chance for public scrutiny.
Britain has been using drones in Afghanistan for some years. But by developing its drone capability, the British government is now stepping up its global ability to conduct arbitrary assassinations.

Official US language shows drones are normalizing such behaviour. There has been next to no public discussion about their use in Britain, but in the US drones are actually justified as precision weapons of international assassination. Their supporters say they are capable of surgically removing terrorist targets, so ‘cleansing’ weakened states of extremist leaders.

In a half-hearted attempt to provide a legal framework, the Obama administration has claimed that drones are justified because they are used only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans. The US is still at war against Al-Qaeda, the argument goes, so such lethal incursions into foreign territory are legal.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

But the evidence is unchallengeable: this is nonsense. Recent reports suggest that just 1.5% of the estimated 3,100 that have been killed by US drones in Pakistan were identified by US officials as ‘high-profile targets’. The US categorises victims as children, civilians, “high-profile,” and “other.” “The ‘other” grey zone comprises males of fighting age.

The Obama administration assumes that these are legitimate targets even though there is no information as to their affiliation. But the Washington Post reported in February that most attacks now are “signature strikes,” in which targets are selected based on suspicious patterns of activity and the identities of those who could be killed is not known. In 2012, the New York Times paraphrased a view they said was shared by several officials that “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.”

Their crime in other words was to have been young, male and in the area.

But it’s not just that fantasies are being peddled about drones’ technical ability to single out their targets. Their strategic role is being obscured too. In reality drones are not used simply as surgical weapon to pre-empt a possible attack. Partly their adoption has been driven by the unpopularity and the manifest failure of the conventional wars that have been fought under the rubric of the war on terror over the last twelve years.

The great advantage of drones from the point of view of western governments is that, at least while the West has the technological edge over competitors, they can be used without domestic casualties and therefore, they hope, without the risk of popular opposition or protest.

Another advantage of drones is that they are a relatively cheap way of killing people, important at a time of spending cuts. They are a way of continuing foreign wars while slimming budgets.

Drones are no more part of a rational policy of self-defence than the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. And nor do they mark a drawdown in US military ambitions. They are in fact being used as a surrogate for conventional military operations. White House senior counterterrorism adviser John Brennan defended drone strikes in April 2012 by comparing them to “deploying large armies abroad” and “large, intrusive military deployments.”

The fact the US has used drones in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan and very likely in Mali as well as Iraq and Afghanistan, testifies to the fact that drones are integrated into the US’s wider war strategy. They are being used to destabilise enemy governments and shore up allies.

The conditions that led to the war on terror are still in place. The US faces growing economic challenges while it retains enormous military predominance. The chaos and volatility created by the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of Chinese power in influence in the Pacific, in Africa and elsewhere make the global situation is, if anything, even more tense than at the beginning of the last decade.

The US military is explicit that the war goes on. In January, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told Ted Koppel that even after 2014, “Our war in Afghanistan will be complete, but no one has ever suggested that that will end the war.” Secretary Panetta is just as clear: “We are in a war. We’re in a war on terrorism and we’ve been in that war since 9/11.”

In a process that the experts call ‘monopoly erosion’, drone use is spreading fast, confirming that they are becoming the new face of modern warfare. A 2012 survey showed that 11 countries had functioning drone systems, including France, Germany, Israel, Turkey, India and China. Other countries are rushing to catch up. We already face a frightening situation in which great powers are confronting each other with these ‘easy to use’ ‘low cost’ killing systems.

A US study based on extensive research in Pakistan gives some inkling of the impact of this remote control imperialism:

Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women and children giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.

One man interviewed by the researchers described the reaction to the sound of the drones as “a wave of terror” coming over the community. “Children, grown-up people, women, they are terrified. . . . They scream in terror.” Another “God knows whether they’ll strike us again or not. But they’re always surveying us, they’re always over us, and you never know when they’re going to strike and attack”.

The opposition to our government’s foreign wars must continue – we mustn’t let them keep fighting behind our backs.

Via: http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/usa-war-on-terror/2382-fighting-war-behind-our-back-cheap-invisible-and-risk-free-mass-murder-

Iran Police Seize 2 Tons of Europe-Bound Heroin

In Afghanistan, EU, Iran, News on January 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

01/01/2013

The largest seizure of Europe-bound heroin in decades. Iran’s police recovered two tons of Class A drugs on New Year’s Eve on the country’s border with Afghanistan. The culmination of a two-month investigation, Iran’s anti-narcotics police chief says the heroin is worth millions of dollars in the European market.

 

Related Link: Iran Fight’s U.S. Sponsored Opium Drug Trade in Afghanistan

U.S. Marine’s Rank Reduced & Fined $500 for Urinating on Dead Taliban Fighters

In Afghanistan, News, NWO, Other Leaks on December 21, 2012 at 3:11 AM

 

12/21/2012

RT:

A US Marine has had his rank reduced and been fined $500 fine for urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan after pleading guilty at a special court martial in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Staff Sgt Joseph W. Chamblin pleaded guilty to charges of wrongful desecration, failure to properly supervise junior Marines and posing for photographs with battlefield casualties.

Footage of the incident, which occurred during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in July 2011, quickly went viral after it was uploaded to the Internet in January this year, sparking world-wide outrage.

The video shows four Marines in uniform laughing and joking while urinating on the bodies of three bearded men. One of the men says, “Have a nice day, buddy.” A caption identifies them as members of Scout Sniper Team 4.

 

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the Marines’ behaviour “utterly deplorable” and promised an investigation, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the actions as “inhuman”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also promised that the Marines would be punished after expressing her “total dismay”.

However, following an eight-month investigation, the Marine Corps decided on undisclosed administrative punishments for three of the Marines in August. All three had pleaded guilty to misconduct charges, including “wrongly video-recording” the incident, failing to report it, as well as posing next to the bodies.

The relatively lenient punishment will only spark more violence against the American troops in Afghanistan, says Ann Wright, a retired US army colonel and a US diplomat.

There will probably be a violent reaction to the news that this is what the punishment is and retaliation on US government officials should be predicted,“ she told RT.

Their records will also be permanently marked, preventing them from any future promotions or re-enlistments.

Criminal charges were only filed against Chamblin and one other, Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola, whose case is still pending. The charges include “being derelict in their duties by failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to require junior Marines to wear their personal protective equipment, failing to stop and report the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report the negligent discharge of a grenade launcher, and failing to stop the indiscriminate firing of weapons.”

Chamblin waived his right to a jury and pleaded guilty to the charges, for which he was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment, a reduction in rank by three grades and a $2,000 fine. However, the initial sentence will be reduced by a marine general to a $500 fine and one grade reduction in rank, based on a plea agreement.

Wright argues that the behaviour of both the marines and the court which judged them will enrage the local population in the war-torn country. It also indirectly sanctions similar behaviour by other US troops in other combat zones, “where you have sergeant Bales killing sixteen Afghans, you have this incident of marines urinating on the bodies of the Taliban and you have the issue of Karan being burned on a military base. Afghanis are outraged about these things.”

4 Afghan Boys Shot Dead by British Forces While Drinking Tea

In Afghanistan, News, NWO, Other Leaks on December 5, 2012 at 2:45 PM

12/04/2012

TheGuardian:

The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, has been asked to launch an urgent inquiry into claims that British forces led a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan during which a 12-year-old boy and three teenagers were shot dead while they were drinking tea.

Lawyers acting for the brother of two of the victims have written to Hammond describing an incident on 18 October in the village of Loi Bagh in Nad Ali, Helmand province, where British forces have been based since 2006.

According to statements given to the lawyers by other family members and witnesses, the operation involved Afghan and UK forces, but it was British soldiers – possibly special forces – who were said to have been in the lead.

“We submit that all of the victims were under the control and authority of the UK at the times of the deaths and ill-treatment,” states the letter to Hammond.

“The four boys killed all appear to have been deliberately targeted at close range by British forces. All were killed in a residential area over which UK forces clearly had the requisite degree of control and authority.”

The four victims are named as Fazel Mohammed, 18, Naik Mohammed, 16, Mohammed Tayeb, 14 and Ahmed Shah, 12.

Britain contributes soldiers to Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf), which has already confirmed that an operation took place in the village on that date.

The incident has been reported in the Afghan media. Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for Nato-led forces in Afghanistan, confirmed the “joint Afghan-coalition forces” operation in Nad Ali on 18 October. He said the result was the “killing of four Taliban enemies in action”. That claim is rejected by relatives of the victims.

Military sources also said it was unusual for UK forces to take the lead in operations of this kind because the Afghans are supposed to be in control as part of the transition process. The MoD said it would give the claims “full consideration before responding”.

According to a statement sent to Hammond on Tuesday by Tessa Gregory, lawyer for Noor Mohammad Noorzai, brother of two of the dead youths, the boys were “shot and killed at close range” in a family guesthouse. Gregory, of the law firm Public Interest Lawyers, obtained written sworn statements from witnesses in a visit to Afghanistan last month. They allege that British soldiers, who were engaged in a joint operation with Afghan forces, hooded some of those arrested despite a ban on the practice.

“The soldiers walked through the village calling at various houses asking to be told where the claimant’s brother Fazel Mohammed lived”, says Gregory’s statement. “It is alleged that the soldiers entered the house of a neighbour dragged him from his bed, hooded him and his son and beat them until under questioning they showed the soldiers the house of Fazel which was across the street.”

According to the document sent to Hammond, the families and neighbours “reject outright any suggestion that any of the four teenagers killed were in any way connected to the insurgency. All four were innocent teenagers who posed no threat whatsoever to Afghan or British forces”.

Gregory told the Guardian: “On 18 October 2012, during a joint British-Afghan security operation, four innocent Afghan teenagers were shot whilst drinking tea in their family’s mud home in Helmand province. Our client, the elder brother of two of the teenage victims, wants to know why this happened. As far as we are aware no investigation into these tragic deaths has taken place. We hope that in light of our urgent representations the Ministry of Defence will act swiftly to ensure that an effective and independent investigation is carried out without any further delay.”

In her statement to Hammond, Gregory says: “After the soldiers left, the claimant’s family and some neighbours entered the “guesthouse” where they found the bodies of the four teenagers lying in a line with their heads towards the doorway”.

The statement adds: “It was clear that the bodies had been dragged into that position and all had been shot in the head and neck region as they sat on the floor of the guesthouse leaning against the wall drinking tea..”

Gregory says the British soldiers involved in the operation are bound by the European Convention of Human Rights which enshrines the right to life and outlaws inhumane treatment. Unless the MoD could show it has carried out a full investigation, lawyers representing the victims’ families will ask the high court to order one.

An MoD spokesman said: “The Ministry of Defence received details of these allegations on Tuesday in a letter from a UK firm of solicitors on behalf of an Afghan national and will give them full consideration before responding. The ‘letter before action’ is the first stage of seeking a judicial review and requires the MoD to reply within 14 days, providing a reasonable opportunity to consider the claim and whether there is a case to answer.”

The MoD said protection of the Afghan civilian population is at the core of Isaf’s military strategy in Afghanistan and, that unlike the insurgency they are supporting the Afghan people to defeat, Isaf and UK forces place a high priority on protecting civilians during combat.

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