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In 2012, Reprieve, a human rights organization, filed a lawsuit against the U.K. Ministry of Defense. The lawsuit was on behalf of Serdar Mohammed.

U.K. military forces had captured Mohammed in Kajaki district, southern Afghanistan. Under agreement and by standard procedure, the U.K. handed Mohammed over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

Mohammed was first held at the N.D.S. prison in Lashkar Gah.

The abuse took various forms. For example, one of the commanders beat M with a stick. He was made to sit crossed-legged, with his hands fed through his legs, holding onto his earlobes. He was then hit with a baton on his back. He was also kicked and beaten with electric cables on his shoulders, back and thighs.

Grounds of Claim

He was then transferred to an N.D.S. prison in Kabul.
There were a variety of beatings. NDS personnel shackled him and beat him severely for several hours with a pipe. They beat him on his feet until they bled....

In addition to the beatings, M was repeatedly shackled in very painful positions. For example, sometimes NDS officials cuffed his hands behind his neck and tied his feet together. They then pulled his feet upwards, towards his hands so his body was bent backwards in an arc. They left him like this for long periods.

The lawsuit sought to halt U.K. prisoner transfers to the N.D.S.

During the proceedings, an email mysteriously appeared on the Department of Defense website, either by mistake, or that someone wanted it seen. The email told of a forthcoming United Nations Assistance Mission report on torture in Afghanistan. And of efforts to get N.D.S. head Asadullah Khalid's name into the torture report. The email also told of U.K. official meetings with Khalid.

Among the U.K. officials to have met with Khalid was Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Foreign Office minister and a Conservative Party chair. Mohammed's counsel was able to link the N.D.S. head and the Foreign Office minister in court.  

Dinah Rose, QC for Mohammed, repeatedly described the head of the NDS as "Mr Khalid the Torturer".... "Baroness Warsi met him and shook his hand, and I hope she washed her hands well afterwards."

Torture Claims Halt MoD Transfers to Afghan Jails, Guardian

Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Khalid attends the inauguration of the Access English program at Rahman Baba High School in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, June 4, 2011. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)
Asadullah Khalid.
A charismatic man, fiercely anti-Taleban, first a protégé of Saudi-sponsored mujahedin leader Abdul Rabb Rasul Sayyaf, later a close ally of the Karzais, and, all importantly, with a long established, close working relationship with the US military and CIA

Filling the Power Ministries: Biographies of the four candidates, Afghanistan Analysts Network


Individuals seem to have disappeared, torture was taking place at unofficial locations, there was physical evidence of abuse having taken place, including the use of electric shocks with tasers.... [U.N. human rights official James] Rodehaver cited Asaduallah Khalid, Raziq, and Raziq's Deputy as being the primary culprits in the treatment.

UNAMA's Forthcoming Afghan Detentions Mistreatment Report

The 2012 UNAMA report had not been the first on systematic torture by Afghan security forces, of course.

For example, Amnesty International had reported on torture by the Afghan N.D.S., after turnover by American forces, in 2007.

Scores of NDS detainees, some arrested arbitrarily and detained incommunicado, that is without access to defence lawyers, families, courts or other outside bodies, have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including being whipped, exposed to extreme cold and deprived of food.

Afghanistan Detainees transferred to torture: ISAF complicity?

Or for example, Amnesty International had reported on torture by the Afghan KHAD, after turnover by Soviet forces, in 1986.
Amnesty International quoted former prisoners as saying that they were beaten, subjected to electric shocks, burned with cigarettes and that some of their hair was torn out.

Soviets Accused of Supervising Afghan Torture, Associated Press

Torture by Afghan security forces has a long history. And Afghans sometimes still call the American-created N.D.S. by its old name. It's the same thing as the Soviet-created KHAD.
He asked if I knew the name of his office. I said it was “Khad".

Treatment of Conflict­-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody, UNAMA

My old parents and the rest of family watched while my brother was tortured and beaten. My parents started to cry and wanted to release my brother from the KHAD people.

Freeing the Prisoners, Afghanistan Analysts Network


Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, with Ahmad Shah Massoud in background.
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, with Ahmad Shah Massoud in background.
In 1992, after the Soviet-sponsored government of Nabijullah had collapsed, Kabul was at civil war. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Pashtun armies came on the city from the southeast, the multi-ethnic Northern Alliance from the north, and Hazara armies from the southwest. They all proceeded to destroy the city.

In 1993, Hazara forces held the high points above Afshar, a predominantly Hazara neighborhood of western Kabul. They used the high points to establish long range artillery over Kabul.

Shells and rockets fell everywhere.

Bloodstained Hands, Human Rights Watch

Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a commander with the Northern Alliance, arranged an attack on the high points. Ahmad Shah Massoud's forces took the artillery positions for themselves. And Massoud and especially Sayyaf's armies began to murder, torture, rape, burn, and pillage their way through the Afshar neighborhood below.
"I've been ordered to seize this area. I'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget, for all of history."

Bloodstained Hands, Human Rights Watch

Yearly remembrances of the Afshar massacre are observed today.
A prominent Kabul journalist, Mohammed Qazim Akhgar, railed against those who he described as "butchers": "They made our blood run like water in the streets and they are still alive, but no one dares to arrest them because of their power."

In the shadow of the warlords, The Age

Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad greets U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upon her arrival in Kabul.
U.S. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad greets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upon her arrival in Kabul.
Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of the Ittihad faction, speaking on television during Afghanistan’s constitutional loya jirga, December 2003.
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf speaking on television during Afghanistan’s constitutional loya jirga, December 2003.
In 2002 and 2003, the United States created a warlord government for Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai, a Northern-Alliance friendly Pashtun with no history of bloodshed, would be head. And Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a Northern Alliance Pashtun with a considerable history of bloodshed, would be key.

In a deal brokered by Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghanistan would have a constitution with protections for minorities, protections for women, and protections for religious pluralism. But Sayyaf would control the Supreme Court which enforced the protections.

The Court was dominated by conservative ulema and the eighty-year-old chief justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari, who was versed only in Sharia law and was controlled by Sayyaf. European ambassadors privately told me that Khalilzad had struck a deal with Sayyaf in which he would later have the power to nominate judges to the supreme court if he gave concessions on other fronts.

Descent into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid

The United States had invaded Afghanistan to make sure the country never again became a safe haven for terrorism. But Sayyaf was a mentor to 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's training camp had previously been Sayyaf's. Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, is said to have trained at the camp when it was run by Sayyaf.

Sayyaf had been a mentor to Osama bin Laden.

The Islamic scholar who was once a father figure to Osama bin Laden is a quietly spoken old gentleman with the white bushy beard of a Father Christmas.

Now a powerful figure in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, in the 1980s Abdul Rasul Sayyaf was an ally for thousands of Arabs flocking to Afghanistan to resist the Soviet Union, among them bin Laden.

He said this weekend of his one time protege: "At that time I did not see anything particular about him. He was not outstanding in any way, just one person among many.

Former bin Laden Mentor Warns the West, Telegraph

Sayyaf is usually pegged for the September 10, 2001 assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Sayyaf has a namesake Designated Terrorist Organization taking inspiration from him, now operating in the Philippines.

So a man of this history, in an American dealmaking, would be the strings behind Afghanistan's Supreme Court.

Shinwari's tenure as Chief Justice drew particular notice in 2003, when he reinstated the hated Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, renamed as the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs.

Despite Karzai Election, Afghan Conservatives Soldier On, Eurasia Insight

And a major power in the N.D.S.; A power in the other Afghan internal security forces; A leading member of parliament; Leader of the Ulema Council; A power on the High Peace Council.

And a leader of political rallies.

Later, youths marched through the city, chanting "Death to enemies of Afghanistan!" and "Death to America!" They also shouted "Death to Malalai Joya!" -- a female lawmaker who is among the most outspoken critics of Sayyaf and other prominent mujahedeen leaders.

Former Mujahedeen Stage Rally in Kabul, Associated Press

And also, in the intricate dealmaking of Afghan politics, between Americans, Hamid Karzai, and the factional warlords, Sayyaf would be a selector of governors.


Asadullah Khalid, governor of Ghazni province (left), has a conversation with Col. Gary H. Cheek, commander of Combined Task Force Thunder (center), and Lt. Col. Christopher Carney, Combined Task Force Thunder director of civil-military operations
Asadullah Khalid, governor of Ghazni province, with Col. Gary Cheek and Lt. Col. Christopher Carney of Combined Task Force Thunder.
In late 2002, Asadullah Khalid was a young Sayyaf lieutenant from Ghazni province. Khalid is sometimes rumored to be Sayyaf's nephew. From a position as N.D.S. district head, Khalid was made Governor of Ghazni.

Stories began making the rounds in Ghazni, of what happens to old farmers, picked up and captured by U.S. Special Forces.

[A] couple of farmers irrigating their farms at night in Pirzada village near Ghazni city were arrested after an American military convoy was ambushed nearby. What happened to them later is not clear, but the village people claimed the old "farmers were sexually abused in detention by the Americans".

Decoding the New Taliban, Columbia University Press

This was before the revelations of Abu Ghraib. Stories of weird sexual torture of old Afghan men, by Americans, did not make the United States newspapers.

Also not of much interest by American newspapers, that the American-favored Governor of Ghazni ran his own dungeons.

He was known to have had a dungeon in Ghazni

Richard Colvin

In 2005, from local objection, Khalid was sacked as Governor of Ghazni. Sher Alam, another Sayyaf lieutenant, active at the Afshar massacre,
Haji Shir Alam, division commander affiliated to Sayyaf, from Paghman, named by numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on the first two days when abuses were committed

Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar, Afghanistan Justice Project

and a brother in law of Khalid, was made Governor instead.

And Khalid was moved up to Governor of Kandahar.


Asadullah Khalid and crew.
Asadullah Khalid and other crew.
In Kandahar, the United States operates a CIA and Special Forces base called Camp Gecko. Afghans still call it by the old name, Mullah Omar's house.
Secretive units of U.S. Special Forces have been deployed at the compound since soon after the fall of the Taliban, and were an integral part of two NATO-led operations last fall in the province of Kandahar — the militia’s former stronghold — that NATO say killed more than 500 suspected fighters.

Their crests — skulls with crossed arrows — and mottoes like “Pressure, Pursue, Punish” and “Free the Oppressed” adorn the compound’s walls. Three eagles by the pool wear green berets. A skull in another painting has evil red eyes and a yellow and green turban.

Sleeping in Mullah Omar's Bed, Time

The NDS agents who arrested me in Kandahar blindfolded me and beat me all the way to Mullah Omar’s house. I know it was Mullah Omar’s house as the NDS told me afterwards when I was in the NDS facility. At Mullah Omar’s house, I was questioned and beaten but I couldn’t see who beat me. They made me lie down and they tied my feet together. They hit the soles of my feet with a pipe. They told me, ‘Confess! Or we’ll hand you over to the foreigners!’

Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On, UNAMA

Afghan militias operating from the U.S. base were controlled by Ahmad Wali Karzai, Asadullah Khalid, and Abdul Raziq Achakzai, and are generally called the Kandahar Strike Force.
The Kandahar Strike Force (KSF) used to be, according to many Kandaharis and The New York Times, in the pocket of the president’s late brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai; overseeing the KSF was one of a number of services which The Times alleged he provided to the CIA (before his death, he strongly denied being a CIA agent).

The CIA, Special Forces and Plans for Afghanistan’s Future, Afghanistan Analysts Network

According to reports, the Kandahar Strike Force was assembled and trained by U.S. special operations and C.I.A. personnel and continues to work closely with U.S. special operations and intelligence personnel conducting raids and other operations targeting insurgents.

Torture, Transfers, and Denial of Due Process: The Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghanistan, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Open Society Foundations

After Ahmad Wali Karzai was assassinated, by his own guard and close friend, Asadullah Khalid moved up in importance.

Asadullah Khalid also had his own militia and guard force, Brigade 888, operating from the Governor's mansion, and in close cooperation with Canadian military.

People still speak in hushed tones about its torture chambers - the sleep deprivation and electric shocks.

A former palace official says he witnessed a prisoner hanging from the ceiling of a guardroom "trussed like a chicken." A man who was among those detained says he endured weeks of beatings supervised by the governor himself.

There was a lot of strange stuff in Kandahar. Canadian officer
House of Pain: Canada's Connection with Kandahar's Ruthless Palace Guard, Globe and Mail
As in Ghazni, Khalid's methods in Kandahar brought strong local objection. Hamid Karzai, at one point, had wanted to sack him. But the Americans
With Governor Khalid:

-- Commend the Governor's efforts to secure the province. The U.S. supports building a strong security force in Kandahar.

Scenesetter For Nsa Hadley Visit To Afghanistan, U.S. Embassy Kabul

and the Canadians
A former governor of Kandahar who is accused of personally torturing Afghans might have been removed from office as far back as 2006 if Canadian officials hadn't defended him, according to diplomatic memos that have never been made public by the Canadian government.

Canada "Defended" Torturer, The Star

had supported keeping Khalid on. We had established such a close working relationship.
Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, Afghanistan
Mrs. Pamela Isfeld, Brigadier General David Fraser, Janaan, and Mr. Asadullah Khalid, Kandahar Province.
He and I would meet several times a week.

Major General David Fraser


At one point, an Afghan source said, the palace hired a labourer to apply fresh paint to an interrogation room every few weeks, as a way of concealing blood on the walls.

House of Pain: Canada's Connection with Kandahar's Ruthless Palace Guard, Globe and Mail

In September 2012, Asadullah Khalid was made head of the Afghan N.D.S.

His history, at the time of the selection, was well known and well documented. His history, by this point, could not be concealed or painted over.

Four months later, Asadullah Khalid was severely wounded in an assassination attempt. He was flown to the United States for hospital treatment.

Khalid could not get normal entry to the United States for the treatment. He had been identified as a torturer in, for example, reports by the United Nations. So he was granted a special emergency national security exemption.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Khalid in hospital, and smiled for a publicity photo.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits Afghan National Directorate of Security head Asadullah Khalid in the hospital.
President Barack Obama visited Khalid as well.
President Barack Obama visits Afghan National Directorate of Security head Asadullah Khalid in the hospital.
I hope, after their hospital visits and publicity photos with Asadullah Khalid, I hope that they washed their hands well afterwards.

In June, the U.K. Foreign Office minister spoke in support of torture victims.

The former Tory chairwoman chose the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to state: "The UK has consistently and unreservedly condemned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and recognises that the impact on victims, their families and their communities is devastating.

"International action against torture has long been, and continues to be, a priority for the UK."

Tory Warsi Branded Torture Hypocrite, Morning Star

So Baroness Warsi, here, has indeed washed her hands of Asadullah Khalid very well.

Serdar Mohammed, though, three years after his capture by the U.K., and one year after the lawsuit, is still in the hands

On one occasion, his torturers wrenched and twisted his testicles so hard that blood came out of his penis.

Reprieve

of the Afghan N.D.S.  

U.S. regular forces will be leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014. At issue now, and being considered and negotiated, is the question of "residual forces".  

[Deputy national security Ben] Rhodes said the president is committed to a U.S. presence in Afghanistan post 2014, but "there are a variety of factors we need to take into account. One is an assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces." The president also wants to "evaluate the potential for the political process in Afghanistan," Rhodes said. He added: "We are waiting until we feel like these different pieces fit together such that the president can make a decision."

Obama Hesitant to Commit Troops in Afghanistan Beyond 2014, National Journal, June 3, 2013

Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan, New York Times, July 9, 2013

High-ranking Obama administration officials have downplayed the likelihood of complete military disengagement from Afghanistan, but provided little insight on negotiations for a residual U.S. troop presence in the country beyond next year.  Senior officials testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday.

US Officials Downplay 'Zero Option' for US Troops in Afghanistan, Voice of America, July 11, 2013


The United States-led military campaign that began on Oct. 7 has succeeded in eradicating most of the Taliban and Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, but it has returned to power nearly all of the same warlords who had misruled the country in the days before the Taliban.

Afghan Warlords and Bandits Are Back in Business, New York Times, December 2001

The commanders who oversaw these atrocities are now back in power, propped up by Western money – something ordinary Kabul residents find it difficult to forgive us for.

Kabul: Survival in a Suburban War Zone, Telegraph, June 2012

We have set Afghanistan up as an internal security state, with a wide variety of security forces in addition to the N.D.S. This is our exit strategy.
Western sensibilities may not prefer the idea of a nation held together largely by the strength of its armed forces. But in fact this is a time-tested path that states from Turkey to South Korea to Colombia have followed at certain stages of their development. And there is good reason to think Afghanistan may do so successfully as well.

Toward a Successful Outcome in Afghanistan, Center for a New American Security

In additional to the national level security forces, we have set up a large number of local militias, Afghan Local Police, which are joint operations between U.S. Special Forces and regional strongmen. This is our exit strategy too.
ALP is the exit strategy.
—International civilian official, Kabul, October 9, 2010

Just Don't Call It a Militia, Human Rights Watch

"I’m afraid Afghan Local Police and arbakai are the gifts that Karzai and the U.S. are leaving for us after 13 years of occupation,” the relative says.

Afghanistan’s Rape Crisis: Villagers Fear U.S.-Backed Militias, Daily Beast

Zalmay Khalilzad had brokered the original warlord government for Afghanistan. And eleven years later, Zalmay Khalilzad is brokering warlord governments for Afghanistan still.

Given the bloodstained hands of who we originally handed Afghanistan to, given our and their bloodstained hands after we gave it, and given who and what we are handing Afghanistan to as we leave.

We, the United States, our government, someone, I don't know. But considering what we have brought to Afghanistan, we will really need to wash our hands well afterwards.

Originally posted to Garrett on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Bloggers Against Torture.

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