17 years into the US war in Afghanistan, various administrations have tried myriad different strategies to try to win the war, many of them involving recruiting local groups. While the Pentagon’s various allies have had well-documented problems, they’re nothing compared to the CIA.
Clandestine and playing fast and loose with the rules, the CIA’s own Afghan forces, various bands of local gunmen with some nominal training, have missions to do, and very little in the way of rules of engagement.
Being told to “search for militants” is all but blanket permission to raid and loot random homes. One survivor of such a raid describes the fighters taking him away for questioning. After they took him, they killed his two brothers and sister-in-law, then burned the house to the ground, killing his 3-year-old daughter.
Provincial officials were deeply critical of the “atrocity,” saying the raid targeted an innocent man. With the CIA’s seal of approval attached to it, however, there is very little that local or even Afghan government officials could do about it.
Investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan are rare, and when the CIA is attached to the matter, official demands for secrecy mean they rarely get off the ground. This has meant standard procedure for such raids is to attack, do what they’re going to do, and then set fire to everything to limit the amount of evidence that could be gathered.
Analysts and locals warn that the CIA-linked groups terrorize the public and are greatly undermining trust in US operations across Afghanistan. There is also little sign anything is going to change.
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