By Dave LIndorff
Another night-time raid on a housing compound in Afghanistan. Another bunch of innocent Afghans killed. Another round of lies by the US-led forces of the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Only this time, among the dead are two pregnant mothers and a teenage girl.
And once again the US media remain mute, accepting the official story, which was of ISAF forces responding to an attack which in reality appears never to have happened.
Before I started to write this piece, which once again was broken by the intrepid Jerome Starkey, a reporter in Afghanistan who works for the Times of London, I thought maybe I should read the Sunday edition of the New York Times, to see whether America's "paper of record" had reported on this latest atrocity. But the night before we had suffered a heavy storm that knocked down three large trees in my front yard, and there was currently a thunderstorm underway, with rain pouring down, so I decided, what the hell, I'll just write it. There's no way the Times would cover this story.
I was right, of course. When the rain let up, and I went out and got the paper, and scoured it for word of this latest obscene slaughter by US forces, I found nothing. The Times' reporters in Afghanistan and the reporters in the paper's Washington bureau who cover the Pentagon had ignored it. So, a Google search discloses, did the rest of the servile US media.
So what actually happened?
According to Starkey, US and Afghan Army forces on February 12 launched a pre-dawn assault on the home of a prominent and popular policeman's home just outside of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan. The first person to die was reportedly the policeman himself, Commander Dawood, who had stood in his doorway protesting the innocence of his family. In the volley of fire directed against him by the brave US-led team, his pregnant wife, another pregnant woman and an 18-year-old girl were also slaughtered.
Commander Dawood had been hosting a party to celebrate the naming of a newborn baby boy, Starkey reported. As he writes:
Sitting together along the walls of a guest room, the men had taken turns dancing while musicians played. Mohammed Sediq Mahmoudi, 24, the singer, said that at some time after 3am one of the musicians, Dur Mohammed, went outside to go to the toilet. "Someone shone a light on his face and he ran back inside and said the Taliban were outside," Mr Sediq said.
Also killed was Dawood's brother, Saranwal Zahir, a local prosecutor, who had been shouting for soldiers not to shoot as women had run outside to tend to the wounded.
A younger brother of the two men, Mohammed Sabir, was arrested by the invading forces and brought to a US base, where he was held for several days and interrogated by " an American in civilian clothes," before being released. Sabir said he was shown photos of a man who had been at the party, a certain Shamsuddin. Sabir says he told the interrogatyor, "Yes, he was at the party. Why didn't you arrest him?" The man in question, Shamsuddin, later turned himself in and was, after questioning, reportedly also released.
Raising the question, what was this raid, and all the pointless killing, about in the first place?
As Starkey writes, the US and the ISAF initially, following what appears to be standard operating procedure, concocted a lie about the incident In a release immediately afterward, under the headline, "Joint force operating in Gardez makes gruesome discovery," the NATO release claimed that the US-led team had found the women's bodies "tied up, gagged and killed" in a room. That statement went on to say: "Several insurgents engaged the joint force in a firefight and were killed."
As Starkey, who charges NATO with a "coverup," reports: "The family, however, insists that no one threw so much as a stone."
He goes on:
Rear Admiral Greg Smith, NATO's director of communications in Kabul, denied that there had been any attempt at a cover-up.
He said that both the men who were killed were armed and showing "hostile intent" but admitted "they were not the targets of this particular raid."