Afghan night raids may deliberately target civilians

U.S. Special Operations Forces have been increasingly aiming their night-time raids, which have been the primary cause of Afghan anger at the U.S. military presence, at civilian non- combatants in order to exploit their possible intelligence value, according to a new study published by the Open Society Foundation and The Liaison Office.

In this Oct. 28, 2009 file photo taken with a night vision scope, Afghan women and their children wait as U.S. Special Operations forces and Afghan National Army soldiers search their home during a joint operation targeting insurgents operating in Afghanistan’s Farah province. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)The study provides new evidence of the degree to which the criteria used for targeting of individuals in night raids and for seizing them during raids have been loosened to include people who have not been identified as insurgents.

Based on interviews with current and former U.S. military officials with knowledge of the strategic thinking behind the raids, as well as Afghans who have been caught up in the raids, the authors of the study write that large numbers of civilians are being detained for brief periods of time merely to find out what they know about local insurgents – a practice the authors suggest may violate the Geneva Conventions on warfare.

A military officer who had approved night raids told one of the authors that targeting individuals believed to know one of the insurgents is a key factor in planning the raids. “If you can’t get the guy you want,” said the officer, “you get the guy who knows him.”

IPS/ Common Dreams

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