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  • MI6 ‘handing bundles of cash to Hamid Karzai’

    British intelligence is handing “bundles” of cash over to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai for special peace projects despite warnings that handouts are promoting corruption at the heart of his regime.

    MI6 officials have acknowledged that the organisation has made direct cash payments to their Afghan counterparts periodically over the 12 years Britain has been at war in Afghanistan.

    Mr Karzai declared handouts from the CIA and MI6 are an “easy source of petty cash” for his government as it attempts to seal alliances with powerful regional warlords and secure defections from the Taliban.

    The CIA support is believed to have amounted to tens of millions of dollars since 2001 while Britain has channelled a smaller fraction of that amount into “special projects” undertaken by Karzai’s officials.

    MPs expressed concern that by simply handing over so-called “ghost money” to President Karzai and his lieutenants, British spies could not be sure that the money would not be lost to corruption.

    Adam Holloway, a Conservative MP and member of the Defence Select Committee, warned that they could not be trusted even if the payments could be justified on the grounds that Taliban and other insurgents must be rewarded if they give up the fight against Nato troops.
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    “Every effort towards a political fix in Afghanistan must be made and those efforts welcomed but whether or not the money is well spent is a matter that must also be considered,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “There is plenty of evidence that Karzai and his clique do not have an interest in a peace settlement but instead have an interest in continuing the conflict.”

    As Britain draws down troop numbers before withdrawing at the end of next year, there are fears that the pressure to seek a deal with insurgents to stop or reduce attacks will see increasing amounts of secret cash spent in Afghanistan.

    “We also need to know more about how and where any cash from the UK is being used – how it is being monitored, and what benefits it is actually bringing to the people of Afghanistan,” said Angus Robertson, the SNP MP and party defence spokesman. “It is enormously important to ensure that Afghanistan is as peaceful as it can be in the build up to withdrawal. The terrible roadside attack on Royal Regiment of Scotland personnel last week shows the terrorist threat is still a very real one.”

    The revelation that Mr Karzai’s office is awash with cash from his allies has caused a furore in the Afghan parliament where Mr Karzai’s government has faced a barrage of corruption allegations.

    “Accepting such money is a big insult to Afghanistan. All those who accepted the cash payments have betrayed the nation,” said Hidayatullah Rihaee, an MP from Bamyan province.

    But Mr Karzai said the cash flow was vital to his grip on power and said he had begged the CIA station chief to continue making payments despite US political criticism.

    “This is nothing unusual,” he said. “I told him because of all these rumours in the media, please do not cut all this money, because we really need it.”

    He admitted that the money had been passed on to potential allies.

    By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

    5:39PM BST 05 May 2013

    Find this story at 5 May 2013

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

    Ghost money from MI6 and CIA may fuel Afghan corruption, say diplomats

    Failure of peace initiatives raises questions over whether British eagerness for political settlement may have been exploited

    Hamid Karzai with the Finnish prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, in Helsinki. Photograph: Lehtikuva/Reuters

    The CIA and MI6 have regularly given large cash payments to Hamid Karzai’s office with the aim of maintaining access to the Afghan leader and his top allies and officials, but the attempt to buy influence has largely failed and may have backfired, former diplomats and policy analysts say.

    The Guardian understands that the payments by British intelligence were on a smaller scale than the CIA’s handouts, reported in the New York Times to have been in the tens of millions, and much of the British money has gone towards attempts to finance peace initiatives, which have so far proved abortive.

    That failure has raised questions among some British officials over whether eagerness to promote a political settlement may have been exploited by Afghan officials and self-styled intermediaries for the Taliban.

    Responding to the allegations while on a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Karzai said his national security council (NSC) had received support from the US government for the past 10 years, and the amounts involved were “not big” and were used for a variety of purposes including helping those wounded in the conflict. “It’s multi-purpose assistance,” he said, without commenting on the allegations that the money was fuelling corruption.

    Yama Torabi, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that the presidency’s low-key response to the reports had “outraged people”.

    “As a result, we don’t know what was the amount of money that was given, what it was used for and if there was any corruption involved. Money when it is unchecked can be abused and this looks like one. In addition, it can be potentially used to corrupt politicians and political circles, but there is no way to know this unless there is a serious investigation into it,” Torabi told The Guardian.

    Kabul sources told the Guardian that the key official involved in distributing the payments within the NSC was Ibrahim Spinzada, a close confidant of the president known as Engineer Ibrahim. There is, however, no evidence that Spinzada personally gained from the cash payments or that in distributing them among the president’s allies and sometimes his foes he was breaking Afghan law.

    Officials say the payments, referred to in a New York Times report as “ghost money”, helped prop up warlords and corrupt officials, deepening Afghan popular mistrust of the Kabul government and its foreign backers, and thereby helped drive the insurgency.

    The CIA money has sometimes caused divisions between the various branches of US government represented in Kabul, according to diplomats stationed in Kabul, particularly when it helped give the CIA chief of station in Kabul direct access to Karzai without the US ambassador’s knowledge or approval.

    One former Afghan budgetary official told the Guardian: “On paper there was very little money that went to the National Directorate of Security [NDS, the Afghan intelligence service], but we knew they were taken care of separately by the CIA.

    “The thing about US money is a lot of it goes outside the budget, directly through individuals and companies, and that opens the way for corruption.”

    Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times: “We called it ‘ghost money’. It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

    One American official told the newspaper: “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.”

    Sources said the MI6 aid was on a smaller scale, and much of it was focused on trying to promote meetings between Karzai’s government and Taliban intermediaries, as was embarrassingly the case in 2010 when MI6 discovered a would-be Taliban leader in talks with Karzai was an impostor from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

    The British payments have also been designed to bolster UK influence in Kabul, in what a source described as “an auction with each country trying to outbid the other” in the course of an often fraught relationship with the Karzai government.

    Vali Nasr, a former US government adviser on Afghanistan, said: “Karzai has been lashing out against American officials and generals, so if indeed there has been funding by the CIA, you have to ask to what effect has that money been paid. It hasn’t clearly brought the sort of influence it was meant to.”


    Karzai’s CIA cash has long precedent in Afghanistan – and a simple solution

    30 Apr 2013

    Nushin Arbabzadah: Afghans would have to back their own state in order to change foreign powers’ century-old system of buying leaders’ loyalty

    29 Apr 2013

    Afghanistan’s web of intrigue is a poor basis on which to rebuild a nation

    27 Apr 2013

    Small Wars, Far Away Places by Michael Burleigh – review

    25 Apr 2013

    Senator accuses US of ‘intelligence failings’ in tracking Tamerlan Tsarnaev

    Hamid Karzai orders ban on ‘un-Islamic’ shows on Afghan TV

    25 Apr 2013

    President issues vague decree after clerics complain that many stations air programmes that are ‘counter to Islamic values’

    Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
    The Guardian, Tuesday 30 April 2013

    Find this story at 30 April 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

    With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan

    KABUL, Afghanistan — For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

    “We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

    The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing.

    Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.

    “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one American official said, “was the United States.”

    The United States was not alone in delivering cash to the president. Mr. Karzai acknowledged a few years ago that Iran regularly gave bags of cash to one of his top aides.

    At the time, in 2010, American officials jumped on the payments as evidence of an aggressive Iranian campaign to buy influence and poison Afghanistan’s relations with the United States. What they did not say was that the C.I.A. was also plying the presidential palace with cash — and unlike the Iranians, it still is.

    American and Afghan officials familiar with the payments said the agency’s main goal in providing the cash has been to maintain access to Mr. Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the agency’s influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan’s highly centralized government. The officials spoke about the money only on the condition of anonymity.

    It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for. Mr. Karzai’s willingness to defy the United States — and the Iranians, for that matter — on an array of issues seems to have only grown as the cash has piled up. Instead of securing his good graces, the payments may well illustrate the opposite: Mr. Karzai is seemingly unable to be bought.

    Over Iran’s objections, he signed a strategic partnership deal with the United States last year, directly leading the Iranians to halt their payments, two senior Afghan officials said. Now, Mr. Karzai is seeking control over the Afghan militias raised by the C.I.A. to target operatives of Al Qaeda and insurgent commanders, potentially upending a critical part of the Obama administration’s plans for fighting militants as conventional military forces pull back this year.

    But the C.I.A. has continued to pay, believing it needs Mr. Karzai’s ear to run its clandestine war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to American and Afghan officials.

    Like the Iranian cash, much of the C.I.A.’s money goes to paying off warlords and politicians, many of whom have ties to the drug trade and, in some cases, the Taliban. The result, American and Afghan officials said, is that the agency has greased the wheels of the same patronage networks that American diplomats and law enforcement agents have struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle, leaving the government in the grips of what are basically organized crime syndicates.

    The cash does not appear to be subject to the oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or even the C.I.A.’s formal assistance programs, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies. And while there is no evidence that Mr. Karzai has personally taken any of the money — Afghan officials say the cash is handled by his National Security Council — the payments do in some cases work directly at odds with the aims of other parts of the American government in Afghanistan, even if they do not appear to violate American law.

    Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the C.I.A. in Afghanistan since the start of the war. During the 2001 invasion, agency cash bought the services of numerous warlords, including Muhammad Qasim Fahim, the current first vice president.

    “We paid them to overthrow the Taliban,” the American official said.

    The C.I.A. then kept paying the Afghans to keep fighting. For instance, Mr. Karzai’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was paid by the C.I.A. to run the Kandahar Strike Force, a militia used by the agency to combat militants, until his assassination in 2011.

    A number of senior officials on the Afghan National Security Council are also individually on the agency’s payroll, Afghan officials said.

    While intelligence agencies often pay foreign officials to provide information, dropping off bags of cash at a foreign leader’s office to curry favor is a more unusual arrangement.

    Afghan officials said the practice grew out of the unique circumstances in Afghanistan, where the United States built the government that Mr. Karzai runs. To accomplish that task, it had to bring to heel many of the warlords the C.I.A. had paid during and after the 2001 invasion.

    By late 2002, Mr. Karzai and his aides were pressing for the payments to be routed through the president’s office, allowing him to buy the warlords’ loyalty, a former adviser to Mr. Karzai said.

    Then, in December 2002, Iranians showed up at the palace in a sport utility vehicle packed with cash, the former adviser said.

    The C.I.A. began dropping off cash at the palace the following month, and the sums grew from there, Afghan officials said.

    Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations.

    Much of it also still goes to keeping old warlords in line. One is Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose militia served as a C.I.A. proxy force in 2001. He receives nearly $100,000 a month from the palace, two Afghan officials said. Other officials said the amount was significantly lower.

    Mr. Dostum, who declined requests for comment, had previously said he was given $80,000 a month to serve as Mr. Karzai’s emissary in northern Afghanistan. “I asked for a year up front in cash so that I could build my dream house,” he was quoted as saying in a 2009 interview with Time magazine.

    Some of the cash also probably ends up in the pockets of the Karzai aides who handle it, Afghan and Western officials said, though they would not identify any by name.

    That is not a significant concern for the C.I.A., said American officials familiar with the agency’s operations. “They’ll work with criminals if they think they have to,” one American former official said.

    Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting from Washington.

    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

    Correction: April 29, 2013

    An earlier version of this article misstated the job title that Khalil Roman held in Afghanistan from 2002 until 2005. He was President Hamid Karzai’s deputy chief of staff, not his chief of staff.

    April 28, 2013

    Find this story at 29 April 2013

    © 2013 The New York Times Company

    Hamid Karzai seeks to curb CIA operations in Afghanistan

    President believes battle in which 10 children and a US agent died was fought by illegal militia working for spy agency

    Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s campaign against CIA operations sets up a heated showdown with the US government. Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA

    President Hamid Karzai is determined to curb CIA operations in Afghanistan after the death of a US agent and 10 Afghan children in a battle he believes was fought by an illegal militia working for the US spy agency.

    The campaign sets the Afghan leader up for another heated showdown with the US government, and will reignite questions about the CIA’s extensive but highly secretive operations in the country.

    Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said the CIA controlled large commando-like units, some of whom operated under the nominal stamp of the Afghan government’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), but were not actually under its control.

    “Some of them are said to be working with the NDS, but they are not armed by the NDS, not paid by the NDS, and not sent to operations by the NDS. Sometimes they only inform the NDS minutes before the operation,” Faizi said. “They are conducting operations without informing local authorities and when something goes wrong it is called a joint operation.”

    One of these groups was involved in a battle with insurgents in a remote corner of eastern Kunar province in early April that left several Afghan children dead, Faizi said. Karzai has fired the provincial head of intelligence in connection with the incident.

    The US citizen who died during the battle was advising the Afghan intelligence service, and the airstrike that killed the children is believed to have been called in after he was fatally injured.

    The US embassy declined to comment on CIA issues, but sources with knowledge of the battle said he was an agent, and his name has not been released, usually an indication of intelligence work.

    Bob Woodward in his 2010 book Obama’s Wars described a 3,000-strong Afghan militia working for the CIA, and Faizi said the Afghan government had little information about the teams. “There is a lack of clarity about their numbers and movement,” he said when asked how many men the CIA had on their payroll, or where these large teams might be based.

    Woodward said the unofficial commando units were known as counter-terrorism pursuit teams, and described them as “a paid, trained and functioning tool of the CIA”, authorised by President George W Bush.

    They were sent on operations to kill or capture insurgent leaders, but also went into lawless areas to try to pacify them and win support for the Afghan government and its foreign backers. Woodward said the units even conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.

    In the wake of the Kunar battle, Karzai has also ordered his security officials to step up implementation of a presidential decree issued in late February abolishing “parallel structures”. Faizi said this order was aimed primarily at dismantling CIA-controlled teams.

    “The use of these parallel structures run by the CIA and US special forces is an issue of concern for the Afghan people and the Afghan government,” he said.

    Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul
    The Guardian, Friday 19 April 2013 10.19 BST

    Find this story at 19 April 2013
    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Defensie probeerde ex-spion af te kopen

    Vijfhonderdduizend euro zwijggeld heeft het ministerie van Defensie geboden aan ex-agent I.A. (42) van de militaire inlichtingendienst MIVD. Op geheime bandopnamen – in bezit van De Telegraaf – biedt mr. Marc Gazenbeek, directeur juridische zaken bij het ministerie van Defensie, duidelijk hoorbaar het ’ongelooflijk mooie’ geldbedrag aan, zoals hij zelf zegt.

    In ruil moet de ex-agent alle juridische procedures staken tegen de ministeries van Defensie en van Buitenlandse Zaken. Bij de onderhandelingen tussen de ex-agent en Defensie waren ook landsadvocaat Eric Daalder aanwezig en I.A.’s advocaat Michael Ruperti.

    door Bart Olmer en Charles Sanders

    vr 18 jan 2013, 05:30

    Find this story at 18 Januar 2013

    © 1996-2013 TMG Online Media B.V., Amsterdam.

    Military Stats Reveal Epicenter of U.S. Drone War

    Forget Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and all the other secret little warzones. The real center of the U.S. drone campaign is in plain sight — on the hot and open battlefield of Afghanistan.

    The American military has launched 333 drone strikes this year in Afghanistan. That’s not only the highest total ever, according to U.S. Air Force statistics. It’s essentially the same number of robotic attacks in Pakistan since the CIA-led campaign there began nearly eight years ago. In the last 30 days, there have been three reported strikes in Yemen. In Afghanistan, that’s just an average day’s worth of remotely piloted attacks. And the increased strikes come as the rest of the war in Afghanistan is slowing down.

    The secret drone campaigns have drawn the most scrutiny because of the legal, geopolitical, and ethical questions they raise. But it’s worth remembering that the rise of the flying robots is largely occurring in the open, on an acknowledged battlefield where the targets are largely unquestioned and the attending issues aren’t nearly as fraught.

    “The difference between the Afghan operation and the ones operations in Pakistan and elsewhere come down to the fundamental differences between open military campaigns and covert campaigns run by the intelligence community. It shapes everything from the level of transparency to the command and control to the rules of engagements to the process and consequences if an air strike goes wrong,” e-mails Peter W. Singer, who runs the Brookings Institution’s 21st Century Defense Initiative. (Full disclosure: I have a non-resident fellowship there.) “This is why the military side has been far less controversial, and thus why many have pushed for it to play a greater role as the strikes slowly morphed from isolated, covert events into a regularized air war.”

    The military has 61 Predator and Reaper “combat air patrols,” each with three or four robotic planes. The CIA’s inventory is believed to be just a fraction of that: 30 to 35 drones total, although there is thought to be some overlap between the military and intelligence agency fleets. The Washington Post reported last month that the CIA is looking for another 10 drones as the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) become more and more central to the agency’s worldwide counterterror campaign.

    In Pakistan, those drones are flown with a wink and a nod, to avoid the perception of violating national sovereignty. In Yemen, the robots go after men just because they fit a profile of what the U.S. believes a terrorist to be. In both countries, people are considered legitimate targets if they happen to be male and young and in the wrong place at the wrong time. The White House keeps a “matrix” on who merits robotic death. Congress (outside of the intelligence committees) largely learns about the programs through the papers.

    None of these statements is true about the drone war in Afghanistan, where strikes are ordered by a local commander, overseen by military lawyers, conducted with the (sometimes reluctant) blessing of the Kabul government, and used almost entirely to help troops under fire. The UAVs aren’t flown to dodge issues of sovereignty or to avoid traditional military assets. They’re used because they work better — staying in the sky longer than traditional aircraft and employing more advanced sensors to make sure the targets they hit are legit.

    Figures on the air war in Afghanistan, supplied by the U.S. military.

    The U.S. military is now launching more drone strikes — an average of 33 per month — than at any moment in the 11 years of the Afghan conflict. It’s a major escalation from just last year, when the monthly average was 24.5. And it’s happening while the rest of the American war effort is winding down: There are 34,000 fewer American troops than there were in early 2011; U.S. casualties are down 40 percent from 2010′s toll; militant attacks are off by about a quarter; civilian deaths have declined a bit from their awful peak.

    Even the air war is shrinking. Overall surveillance sorties are down, from an average of 3,183 per month last year to 2,954 in 2012. (Drones flew 860 of those sorties in 2011, and now fly 761 per month today.) Missions in which U.S. aircraft fire their weapons have declined, too. That used to happen 450 times per month on average in 2011. This year, the monthly total dropped to 360.

    By Noah Shachtman11.09.124:00 AM

    Find this story at 11 September 2012

    Wired.com © 2013 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.

    Did general David Petraeus grant friends access to top secret files?

    Petraeus was forced out of the CIA in part because his mistress read sensitive documents. Now it is alleged he granted two friends astonishing access to top secret files as he ran the Afghan surge. In a painstaking investigation, Rajiv Chandrasekaran reveals how the volunteers won big donations from defence firms – and how they pushed the army towards a far more aggressive strategy

    Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, a husband-and-wife team of hawkish military analysts, put their jobs at influential Washington think tanks on hold for almost a year to work for General David H. Petraeus when he was the top US commander in Afghanistan.

    Given desks, email accounts and top-level security clearances in Kabul, they pored through classified intelligence reports, participated in senior-level strategy sessions and probed the assessments of field officers in order to advise Petraeus about how to fight the war differently.

    Their compensation from the US government for their efforts, which often involved 18-hour work days, seven-day weeks and dangerous battlefield visits? Zero dollars.

    Although Fred Kagan said he and his wife wanted no pay in part to remain “completely independent”, the extraordinary arrangement raises new questions about the access and influence Petraeus accorded to civilian friends while he was running the Afghan war.

    Petraeus allowed his biographer-turned-paramour, Paula Broadwell, to read sensitive documents and accompany him on trips. But the access granted to the Kagans, whose think-tank work has been embraced by Republican politicians, went even further.

    The general made the Kagans de facto senior advisers, a status that afforded them numerous private meetings in his office, priority travel across the war zone and the ability to read highly secretive transcripts of intercepted Taliban communications, according to current and former senior US military and civilian officials who served in the HQ at the time.

    The Kagans used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the US war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan, the officials said.

    The pro bono relationship, which is now being scrutinised by military lawyers, yielded valuable benefits for the general and the couple. The Kagans’ proximity to Petraeus, the country’s most famous living general, provided an incentive for defence contractors to contribute to Kim Kagan’s think tank. For Petraeus, embracing two respected national security analysts in Republican circles helped to shore up support for the war among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

    Fred Kagan, speaking in an interview with his wife, acknowledged the arrangement was “strange and uncomfortable” at times. “We were going around speaking our minds, trying to force people to think about things in different ways and not being accountable to the heads” of various departments in the headquarters, he said.

    The extent of the couple’s involvement in Petraeus’s headquarters was not known to senior White House and Pentagon officials involved in war policy, two of those officials said. More than a dozen senior military officers and civilian officials were interviewed for this article; most spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. Petraeus, through a former aide, declined to comment for the piece.

    As war-zone volunteers, the Kagans were not bound by the stringent rules that apply to military personnel and private contractors. They could raise concerns directly with Petraeus, instead of going through subordinate officers, and were free to speak their minds without repercussion.

    Some military officers and civilian US government employees in Kabul praised the couple’s contributions — one general noted that “they did the work of 20 intelligence analysts”. Others expressed deep unease about their activities in the headquarters, particularly because of their affiliations and advocacy in Washington.

    Fred Kagan, who works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was one of the intellectual architects of President George W Bush’s troop surge in Iraq and has sided with the Republican Party on many national security issues. Kim Kagan runs the Institute for the Study of War, which favours an aggressive US foreign policy. The Kagans supported President Obama’s decision to order a surge in Afghanistan, but they later broke with the White House on the subject of troop reductions. Both argue against any significant drawdown in forces there next year.

    After the couple’s most recent trip in September, they provided a briefing on the war and other foreign policy matters to the Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

    The Kagans said they continued to receive salaries from their think-tanks while in Afghanistan. Kim Kagan’s institute is funded in part by large defence contractors. During Petraeus’s tenure in Kabul, she sent out a letter soliciting contributions so the organisation could continue its military work, according to two people who saw the letter.

    On 8 August 2011, a month after he relinquished command in Afghanistan to take over at the CIA, Petraeus spoke at the institute’s first “President’s Circle” dinner, where he accepted an award from Kim Kagan. The private event, held at the Newseum in Washington, also drew executives from defence contractors who fund the institute.

    “What the Kagans do is they grade my work on a daily basis,” Petraeus said, prompting chortles from the audience. “There’s some suspicion that there’s a hand up my back, and it makes my lips talk, and it’s operated by one of the Doctors Kagan.”

    Before the Iraq war hit rock bottom, the Kagans were little-known academics with doctorates in military history from Yale University who taught at West Point. He specialised in the Soviets, she in the ancient Greeks and Romans.

    In 2005, Fred Kagan jumped to the American Enterprise Institute and joined the fractious debate over the Iraq war, arguing against the Bush administration’s planned troop withdrawals. His follow-on research, conducted with his wife and retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, provided the strategic underpinning for the troop surge Bush approved in January 2007. After Obama was elected, he made clear that his strategic priority was Afghanistan. In March 2009, they co-wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times that called for sending more forces to Afghanistan.

    When General Stanley McChrystal assumed command of the war that summer, he invited several national security experts to help draft an assessment of the conflict for the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates. The 14-member group included experts from several Washington think-tanks. Among them were the Kagans. The Afghan assessment struck an alarming tone that helped McChrystal make his case for a troop surge, which Obama eventually authorised.

    The Kagans should have been thrilled, but they soon grew concerned. They thought McChrystal’s headquarters was not providing enough information to them about the state of the war. The military began to slow-roll their requests to visit Afghanistan. In early 2010, they wrote an email to McChrystal, copied to Petraeus, that said they “were coming to the conclusion that the campaign was off track and that it was not going to be successful,” Fred Kagan said. Worried about the consequences of losing the Kagans, McChrystal authorised the trip, according to the staff members.

    After their trip, which lasted about two weeks, the Kagans penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal. “Military progress is steadily improving dynamics on the ground,” they wrote.

    “We obviously came away with… a more nuanced view that persuaded us that we were incorrect in the assessment that we had gone in with,” Fred Kagan said in the interview. The Defence Department permits independent analysts to observe combat operations, but the practice became far more common when Petraeus became the top commander in Iraq. He has said that conversations with outside specialists helped to shape his strategic thinking.

    The take-home benefit was equally significant: when the opinion makers returned home, they inevitably wrote in newspapers, gave speeches and testified before Congress, generally imparting a favourable message about progress under Petraeus, all of which helped him sell the war effort and expand his popularity. Petraeus called them his “directed telescopes” and urged them to focus on the challenge of tackling corruption and building an effective government in Afghanistan.

    When they returned in September 2010, the Kagans’ writ no longer resembled the traditional think tank visit or an assessment mission intended to inform an incoming commander.

    They were given desks in the office of the Strategic Initiatives Group, the commander’s in-house think-tank, which typically is staffed with military officers and civilian government employees. The general’s staff helped upgrade their security clearances from “Secret” to “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, the highest-level of US government classification.

    The new clearances allowed the Kagans to visit “the pit”, the high-security lower level of the Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Centre on the headquarters. There, they could read transcripts of Taliban phone and radio conversations monitored by the National Security Agency.

    “They’d spend hours in there,” said one former senior civilian official at the headquarters. “They talked about how much they loved reading intel.”

    Their immersion occurred at an opportune time. Petraeus was fond of speaking about the importance of using troops to protect Afghan communities from insurgents, but he recognised that summer that the Obama White House wanted to narrow the scope of the war. As a consequence, the general decided to emphasise attacking insurgent strongholds – and so did the Kagans. They focused on the Haqqani network, which US officials believe is supported by Pakistan’s intelligence service. Haqqani fighters have conducted numerous high-profile attacks against US and Afghan targets in Kabul and other major cities.

    The Kagans believed US commanders needed to shift their focus from protecting key towns and cities to striking Haqqani encampments and smuggling routes, according to several current and former military and civilian officials familiar the issue.

    In the summer of 2010, they shared their views with field officers during a trip to the east. “They implied to brigade commanders that Petraeus would prefer them to devote their resources to killing Haqqanis,” said Doug Ollivant, a former adviser to the two-star general in charge of eastern Afghanistan. But Petraeus had not yet issued new directives to his three-star subordinate or the two-star in the east. “It created huge confusion,” a senior officer said. “Everyone knew the Kagans were close to Petraeus, so everyone assumed they were speaking for the boss.”

    While the Kagans refused to discuss their work in detail — they said it was privileged and confidential — Fred Kagan insisted that they were careful to note before every meeting “that we were not speaking for Petraeus”.

    Fred Kagan said he and his wife wanted to facilitate conversations about vital tactical issues, exposing field commanders “to different ideas and different ways of looking at the problem.”

    The Kagans are prolific contributors to debates about national security policy, cranking out a stream of opinion pieces and convening panel discussions at their respective institutions. But once they began working for Petraeus, they ceased writing and commenting in public. “When we were in Afghanistan… we were not playing the Washington game,” Fred Kagan said. “We were not thinking about anything … except how to defeat the enemy.”

    Although they functioned as members of Petraeus’s staff, they said they did not want to be paid. “There are actual patriots in the world,” Fred Kagan said. “It was important to me not to be seen to be profiting from the war.” Military officials said the Defence Department travel rules permit civilian experts to provide services to the military without direct compensation. A spokesman for the US Central Command, Colonel John Robinson, said that the military was still examining to what extent Petraeus’s arrangement with the Kagans “satisfied regulations regarding civilian services to government organisations”.

    The Kagans’ volunteerism was an open secret at the headquarters, and it bred suspicion. Some officers questioned whether they funnelled confidential information to Republicans – a claim the Kagans deny. Others worried that the couple was serving as in-house spies for Petraeus. A colonel who worked for Petraeus said the Kagans “did great work,” but “the situation was very, very weird. It’s not how you run an HQ.”

    Timeline: David Petraeus

    7 November 1952: Born in New York.

    1972: Marries Holly Knowlton.

    2006: Meets Paula Broadwell, a Harvard graduate.

    October 2008: Promoted to head of US Central Command.

    June 2010: Appointed head of international forces in Afghanistan.

    September 2011: Takes up post as director of the CIA. November 2011: Starts affair with Ms Broadwell.

    January 2012: Ms Broadwell publishes book on General David Petraeus.

    June 2012: FBI establishes harrassing emails between Broadwell and Jill Kelley.

    22-29 October: Petraeus admits to affair with Ms Broadwell, but denies leaking any security information.

    9 November: President Obama accepts his resignation.

    13 November: General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, under internal investigation.

    Washington Post

    Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Find this story at 20 December 2012

    © independent.co.uk

    British forces accused of killing four teenagers in Afghan operation

    Boys were targeted at close range witnesses claim, as defence secretary asked to launch urgent inquiry

    Defence secretary Philip Hammond has been asked to launch an inquiry. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    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.

    Richard Norton-Taylor and Nick Hopkins
    The Guardian, Tuesday 4 December 2012 20.42 GMT

    Find this story at 4 December 2012

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Die Afghanistan Papiere: Was soll das?

    Bei den von der WAZ veröffentlichten Berichten handelt es sich um sogenannte „Unterrichtungen des Parlamentes“. Diese Papiere stellt das Verteidigungsministerium jede Woche dem Verteidigungsausschuss des Bundestages zu Verfügung. Sie sollen die Abgeordneten über die weltweiten Einsätze der Bundeswehr auf dem Laufenden halten und sind mit dem Hinweis „VS – Nur für den Dienstgebrauch“ gestempelt.

    -> zu den Afghanistan Papieren

    Bei “VS – Nur für den Dienstgebrauch“ handelt es sich um die niedrigste Geheimhaltungsstufe in Deutschland. Die Bundeswehr lehnte auf Anfrage eine Veröffentlichung der Berichte ab, weil aus ihnen Rückschlüsse auf „Einsatzverfahren und Einsatztechniken“ möglich sein sollen. Die WAZ-Gruppe hat trotzdem mehrere tausend Seiten dieser geheim gestempelten Berichte im Internet veröffentlicht.

    Die Originaldokumente erlauben erstmals einen ungefilterten Blick auf den Kriegsverlauf im deutsch kontrollierten Gebiet am Hindukusch. Sie umspannen den Zeitraum von 2005 bis 2012. Wir haben nicht alle Dokumente, und einige sind kaum lesbar.

    Trotzdem zeigen die Papiere die weitgehende Wirkungslosigkeit der bisherigen ISAF-Strategien – enthalten aber keine Informationen über „Einsatzverfahren und Einsatztechniken“ der Bundeswehr, wie von der Bundeswehr behauptet.

    Mehr als 1000 Tote in 2012
    Stattdessen werden in den geheimen Berichten auch Zahlen zu Opfern des Krieges genannt, die in den frei verfügbaren „Unterrichtungen der Öffentlichkeit“ von der Bundeswehr nicht verbreitet werden. So zitiert das Verteidigungsministerium etwa im geheimen Bericht 33 aus dem August 2012 eine Statistik der UNO. Demnach wurden in den ersten sechs Monaten des Jahres 3099 Zivilisten verletzt oder getötet, darunter 925 Frauen und Kinder; 1145 Menschen starben, 1954 mussten behandelt werden.

    Laut UNO sind für 80 Prozent der Opfer die Aufständischen verantwortlich. ISAF-Soldaten und afghanische Sicherheitsdienste hätten etwa 310 Opfer verschuldet. In den öffentlichen Berichten der Bundeswehr fehlen diese Zahlen. Dabei sind auch diese Angaben nicht geheim. Die UNO veröffentlicht sie im Internet.

    Keine Geheimnisse
    Weiter enthalten die geheimen Berichte Informationen über Einsätze der Bundeswehr im Süden des Landes. Dort sind sie für ihre Bündnispartner aktiv. So setzt die Bundeswehr seit Jahren reguläre Soldaten des ehemaligen Fernmeldebataillons 284 aus Wesel in der Unruheprovinz Kandahar ein. Sie helfen dort den militärischen Flughafen zu kontrollieren – jeweils mit einer Ausnahmegenehmigung des gerade amtierenden Verteidigungsministers.

    Diese Einsätze verschweigt die Bundeswehr in ihren erst seit 2011 wöchentlich erscheinenden „Unterrichtungen der Öffentlichkeit“. Dabei handelt es sich bei den Angaben durchaus nicht um Geheimnisse. Soldaten aus Wesel berichteten in der Vergangenheit offen in Zeitungen über ihren Einsatz in Kandahar.

    27. November 2010 von David Schraven

    Find this story at 27 November 2012

    Die Afghanistan Papiere

    Die Afghanistan Papiere: Wir sind online

    Die Afghanistan Papiere sind online. Tausende geheime Seiten über einen Krieg, den die deutschen Soldaten nicht mehr gewinnen können. Unser Video gibt eine Einführung in das Projekt.

    -> zu den Afghanistan Papieren

    Was soll das?
    Über den Krieg in Afghanistan wird in der Öffentlichkeit nicht immer wahrheitsgetreu gesprochen. Das wollen wir ändern und die Faktenbasis der Debatte vergrößern. Wir veröffentlichen die sogenannten “Unterrichtungen des Parlamentes”. Die sind “VS – nur für den Dienstgebrauch” gestempelt. Wir finden aber, die Öffentlichkeit sollte über den Krieg in Afghanistan umfassend informiert werden. -> Die Erklärung

    Gefährlicher Einsatz
    Die Lage in Afghanistan ist brisanter als öffentlich dargestellt. Wie aus den Afghanistan Papieren hervorgeht, verschlechtert sich die Sicherheit am Hindukusch kontinuierlich. Von 2007 bis 2012 verdreifachte sich die Zahl der Angriffe auf die Koalitionstruppen. Allein in einer Woche im September 2012 kam es zu über 620 Attacken. Am Mittwoch will die Bundesregierung das neue Mandat für Afghanistan beschließen. -> Das Wichtigste

    Das verfehlte Ziel
    Der Afghanistan-Krieg der Bundeswehr war zu Beginn ein Kampf um ein hohes Ziel. Bundesaußenminister Joschka Fischer gab es vor: „Es geht darum, eine Weltordnung zu schaffen, die Zonen der Ordnungslosigkeit nicht mehr zulässt.“ Ein demokratischer Rechtsstaat sollte am Hindukusch entstehen. Dieses Ziel ist verfehlt, stattdessen lässt sich die Bundeswehr mit mutmaßlichen Kriegsverbrechern ein. Es geht nur noch um einen funktionierenden Rückzug. -> Das Hintergrund-Stück

    Zeit für eine Diskussion
    Jahrelang wurde der deutschen Öffentlichkeit der Krieg in Afghanistan als Friedensmission verkauft. Dabei riskieren deutsche Soldaten ihr Leben für einen korrupten Staat. Spitzenpolitiker haben es vernachlässigt, über die zukünftige Rolle der Bundeswehr offen zu sprechen. Mit der Sprachlosigkeit muss Schluss sein. -> Der Kommentar

    Die wichtigsten Stories
    Einige der aus unserer Sicht wichtigsten Stories zum Krieg haben wir hier verlinkt. -> Die Stories

    Die ergiebigsten Quellen
    Von offiziellen Webseiten über wissenschaftliche Analysen bis hin zu Soldatenblogs gibt es hier die ergiebigsten Quellen. -> Die Quellen

    Die besten Bücher
    Über Afghanistan sind zahlreiche Bücher erschienen. Hier die aus unserer Sicht besten. -> Die Bücher

    Die Afghanistan Papiere wurden uns zugespielt; sie liegen teilweise nur in schlechter Qualität vor – deswegen brauchen wir ihre Hilfe. Bearbeiten Sie die Berichte, geben Sie Hinweise, diskutieren Sie die Afghanistan Papiere. Wir bleiben am Thema dran und freuen uns über Ihre Mithilfe. Haben Sie Informationen oder Dokumente zum Krieg in Afghanistan? Mailen Sie uns an recherche@waz.de, rufen Sie uns an oder nutzen Sie unseren verschlüsselten, anonymen Upload.

    27. November 2012 von Autorengruppe

    Find this story at 27 November 2012

    Die Afghanistan Papiere

    Marines charged with murder over Afghanistan death

    Five Royal Marines charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011

    British soldiers in Helmand: the incident took place last year but it is thought investigators only began inquiries in recent weeks. Photograph: Corporal Barry Lloyd Rlc/AFP

    Five Royal Marines have been charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011.

    Seven marines were arrested on Thursday by the Royal Military police. Two more were later arrested, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Four have been released without charge pending further inquiries, according to the Ministry of Defence.

    The incident took place in Helmand province last year, but it is thought investigators only began an inquiry in recent weeks.

    An MoD spokesman said: “The Royal Military police has referred the cases of the remaining five Royal Marines to the independent Service Prosecuting Authority.

    “Following direction from the SPA these marines have now been charged with murder and they remain in custody pending court proceedings.”

    The soldiers, believed to be members of 3 Commando Brigade, were arrested in connection with an incident described as “an engagement with an insurgent” in which no civilians were involved.

    During a six-month tour of duty in 2010, which lasted from April to October, seven servicemen from the brigade were killed in action, all from 42 Commando. The tour, Operation Herrick 14, was the unit’s fourth and saw the force score notable successes in capturing explosives from the Taliban.

    Jonathan Haynes and agencies
    The Guardian, Sunday 14 October 2012 08.34 BST

    Find this story at 14 October 2012

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Britain faces legal challenge over secret US ‘kill list’ in Afghanistan

    Afghan man who lost relatives in missile strike says UK role in supplying information to US military may be unlawful

    Britain’s role in supplying information to an American military “kill list” in Afghanistan is being subjected to legal challenge amid growing international concern over targeted strikes against suspected insurgents and drug traffickers.

    An Afghan man who lost five relatives in a missile strike started proceedings against the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and the Ministry of Defence demanding to know details of the UK’s participation “in the compilation, review and execution of the list and what form it takes”.

    Legal letters sent to Soca and the MoD state the involvement of UK officials in these decisions “may give rise to criminal offences and thus be unlawful”. They say Britain’s contribution raises several concerns, particularly in cases where international humanitarian laws protecting civilians and non-combatants may have been broken.

    “We need to know whether the rule of law is being followed and that safeguards are in place to prevent what could be clear breaches of international law,” said Rosa Curling from the solicitors Leigh Day & Co. “We have a family here that is desperate to know what happened, and to ensure this kind of thing never happens again.”

    Targeting Taliban commanders in precision attacks has been an important part of Nato’s strategy in Afghanistan, and it has involved US, British and Afghan special forces, and the use of drones.

    But who is put on the “kill list” and why remains a closely guarded secret – and has become a huge concern for human rights groups. They have questioned the legality of such operations and said civilians are often killed.

    Soca refused to discuss its intelligence work, but the agency and the MoD said they worked “strictly within the bounds of international law”. Its role in the operation to compile a “kill list” was first explained in a report to the US Senate’s committee on foreign relations.

    The report described how a new task force targeting drug traffickers, insurgents and corrupt officials was being set up at Kandahar air field in southern Afghanistan. “The unit will link the US and British military with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency], Britain’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and police and intelligence agencies from other countries.” The 31-page report from 2009 acknowledged the precise rules of engagement were classified.

    But it said two generals in Afghanistan had explained they “have been interpreted to allow them to put drug traffickers with proven links to insurgency on a kill list, called the joint integrated prioritised target list”.

    “The military places no restrictions on the use of force with these selected targets, which means they can be killed or captured on the battlefield,” the Senate report said. “It does not, however, authorise targeted assassinations away from the battlefield. The generals said standards for getting on the list require two verifiable human sources and substantial additional evidence.”

    The legal challenge has been brought by an Afghan who believes his relatives were unlawfully killed in a case of mistaken identity during one “kill list” operation. A bank worker in Kabul, Habib Rahman lost two brothers, two uncles and his father-in-law in a US missile attack on their cars on 2 September 2010. They had been helping another member of the family who had been campaigning in Takhar province in northern Afghanistan in the runup to the country’s parliamentary elections. In total, 10 Afghans were killed and several others injured.

    Rahman says most of those who died were election workers. But the attack was praised by Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf) which said the target had been a man in the convoy called Muhammad Amin. The US accused him of being a Taliban commander and member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and said the people who had been travelling with him had been insurgents.

    A detailed study of the incident by the research group Afghanistan Analysts Network contradicted the official account, saying Isaf had killed Zabet Amanullah. Amin was tracked down after the incident and is still alive, said the study’s author, Kate Clark. “Even now, there does not seem to be any acknowledgment within the military that they may have got the wrong man,” she said. “It is really very bizarre. They think Amin and Amanullah are one and the same.”

    Rahman’s lawyers acknowledge they do not know whether information provided by Britain contributed to this attack, but hope the legal challenge will force officials to be more open about the British contribution to the “kill list”.

    The letters to Soca’s director general, Trevor Pearce, and the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, point to the Geneva conventions, which say that persons taking no active part in hostilities are protected from “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds”.

    They also draw on the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has said anyone accompanying an organised group who is not directly involved in hostilities “remains civilian assuming support functions”.

    The legal letters, the first step towards seeking judicial review, say “drug traffickers who merely support the insurgency financially could not legitimately be included in the list” under these principles. The lawyers believe that, even if Isaf had targeted the right man, it may have been unlawful for others to have been killed in the missile strike.

    “The general practice of international forces in Afghanistan and the experience of our client suggest that proximity to a listed target is, on its own, sufficient for an individual to be considered a legitimate target for attack. Such a policy would be unlawful under the international humanitarian law principles,” they say.

    Curling said: “Ensuring the UK government and its agencies are operating within their legal obligations could not be more important. Our client’s case suggests the establishment and maintenance of the ‘killing list’ is not in line with the UK’s duties under international humanitarian law. Our client lost five of his relatives in an attack by the international military forces as a result of this list. It is important that the Ministry of Defence and Soca provide us with the reassurances sought.”

    Find this story at 9 August 2012

    Nick Hopkins
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 August 2012 19.56 BST

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

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