Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Taliban Behead Two Children for Spying

Taliban Behead for Spying

The Taliban hates spying even more than Edward Snowden! Two children, a 10 year old boy and a 16 year old boy, were beheaded by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan as punishment for spying.

The only problem? (aside from the excessive punishment…) They weren’t really spying – they were just looking for food. The boys had been foraging for food in bins near a police checkpoint in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar when Taliban militants caught them. The boys were both very poor and were thought to regularly accept police food handouts, which in Taliban-speak means they are huge traitors and possibly spies.

“The boys were on their way back … when they were stopped by Taliban insurgents who beheaded them,” the chief of Zhari district, Jamal Agha, told Reuters. “Both of them were innocent children and had nothing to do with government or foreigners.”

According to local officials, the Taliban beheaded the boys as a warning for the rest of the villagers not to cooperate with the police and the Afghan government.

Although the Taliban are well-known for their beheading, a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said that this time the group was not involved. Well, I don’t know about that… there have been a lot of accusations in the past. In July last year in the same district, a 16-year-old boy accused by the Taliban of spying for the government was beheaded and skinned. The next month, a girl aged six and a boy of 12 were kidnapped and beheaded in separate incidents in Kandahar and the east of the country. And in August, Afghan officials accused the Taliban of beheading 17 civilians, allegedly as punishment for attending a party where there was mixed-gender dancing.

Kandahar’s governor certainly doesn’t believe the Taliban. The Governor of Kandahar, Dr. Toryalay Wessa called the act inhumane and un-Islamic and has pinned the blame firmly on the militants. He  has commanded all the security forces in Kandahar to find those responsible for this action “with whatever casualties it takes to sacrifice, and at whatever price”. I’m pretty sure there are people working on that already – and it isn’t going so well (see: War in Afghanistan – 12 years and counting).

Via: BBC News

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Robert Bales Killed 16 Afghans for “No Good Reason”

Robert Bales

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has pled guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians but can’t for the life of him figure out why he did it.

Robert Bales admitted for the first time in military court on Wednesday that he deliberately killed 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012, most of them women and children. He told the court how he shot some victims, shot and burned others, and did so with complete awareness that he was acting on his own, without any orders from other officers. Bales, who was at the time on his fourth overseas deployment, said he did not remember setting a compound on fire, but did not dispute it either.

But he couldn’t give an explanation as to why he opened fire on two family compounds.

“I’ve asked that question a million times since then, and there’s not a good reason in the world for why I did the horrible things I did,” he said.

One clue might be his illegal use of steroids. Sgt. Bales admitted to taking the drugs to “huge and jacked”. When asked by the judge if the steroids had any other effects, Bales said, “Sir, it definitely increased my irritability and anger.” Yikes.

Another possibility? Alcohol. Fellow soldiers told the court that they had been drinking together earlier that night (against regulations!) and that Sgt. Bales had later walked back into the camp, wearing a cape, his clothes spotted with blood. I think the cape is the most troubling part…

Robert Bales pleaded guilty to all charges but one in order to avoid the death penalty, but he still faces a sentencing trial, scheduled for August, which will decide if his life sentence includes possibility of parole. If so, he could potentially be walking around as  a ‘veteran’ in 10 years.

The fact that Bales is not getting the death penalty certainly isn’t improving US-Afghan relations and definitely isn’t sitting well with residents of the Afghan village where the massacre happened.

The villagers in Kandahar province argue that he has been treated far too leniently and should be hanged. Villager Samiullah, whose mother, uncle and cousin were killed by Bales, said the life sentence meant that justice had not been done. Another villager, Haji Baqi, whose brother was killed by Bales, said: “We want him to be hanged. The international community should not ignore our grief!”

Via: The New York Times

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Soldier and Stray Cat Find Love in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Stray Cat

Staff Sergeants Jesse Knott found hope in the companionship of a stray cat in Afghanistan and brought him back home to Oregon.

Knott first noticed the stray cat wondering around his army base in southern Afghanistan. The cat was in a rough condition with open wounds and paint in his fur. Knott, suspecting the stray cat was being abused, took the cat into his office even though army personnel are not allowed to have pets.

For seven months Knotts cared for the cat, who he named Koshka. But it turns out Koshka was the one who saved him.

“(Koshka) gave a lot of love back to me. He was the thing that got me through some of my darkest times on that deployment,” Knott said. “When two of my friends were killed in a suicide attack I lost all hope. It was my darkest time and he’s what got me through it. Just the bit of compassion and love that cat showed me is what it took to remind me to stay strong.”

When his service ended he knew there is no way he could leave Koshka behind in Afghanistan. Since he wasn’t able to get Koshka on a military convey, he sought out the help of a local interpreter who risked his life by travelling with the cat to Kabul. After weeks of waiting, Koshka eventually made it to Kabul and was able to fly to Portland, Oregon to be reunited with Knotts. It cost his parents $3,000 to fly Koshka home but now Koshka is happy and healthy living in Oregon. Totally worth it.

“He pulled me out of one of my darkest times so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest places,” Knott said, “That cat saved my life.”

Based on this story alone, I think we can all agree that the war in Afghanistan was officially worth the trillions of dollars spent and tens of thousands of lives lost.


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Current Event Cat of the Day

Current Event Cat - NATO Forces

Current Event Cat of the Day: Troops in Afghanistan have been put at risk after an “inflammatory speech” by President Hamid Karzai, according to Nato’s commander, Gen Joseph Dunford.

Hamid Karzai recently accused the US and the Taliban of colluding to prolong the war in the country. The Afghan President said during a visit by the new U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel that the Taliban were killing Afghan civilians “in service to America.”

Via: Current Event Cats

US in Afghanistan: Go Big or Go Home?

Afghanistan Obama and Karzai

In a White House news conference, Obama and Karzai have declared an end to the majority of combat operations in Afghanistan this spring, with US troops switching to a support role slightly earlier than initially planned.

While most of the 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave in 2014, beginning in the spring, US troops are expected to switch to a support role and have Afghan forces take the security lead. As Obama puts it:

“Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission – training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be an historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty.”

Given that the Afghan forces are corrupt, incompetent, and often high, leaving them to combat the continued Taliban insurgency seems like a fantastic idea. Adding insult to injury, deadly insider attacks have now become quite commonplace in Afghanistan. Last year witnessed a sharp rise in attacks on Nato forces by rogue Afghan soldiers, believed to account for about 15% of coalition casualties in 2012.

Obama and Karzai appear to be glossing over this fact, declaring in the White House news conference that the capabilities of the Afghan army are “exceeding initial expectations”. I suppose if the initial expectations were nothing, then this may be true. Or maybe it still wouldn’t be…

In reality, the end of the US presence in Afghanistan is riddled with uncertainty and doubts over whether the Afghan government can build legitimacy and whether Afghan security forces will be capable of fending off the Taliban on their own. With the situation looking as bleak as it is, is there a point of keeping on a limited number of US troops in a support role? If not, the US should just go big or go home. Judging by overwhelming negative public opinion of the war and Obama’s recent risk-adverse cabinet picks, I think they’ll end up going home, leaving an ill-prepared Afghan security force and a soon to be Taliban takeover.

Via: BBC News

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