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US-Afghan ties strained over charges of soldier’s role in torture, killings

Press TV</strong>

Dispute between US and Afghan officials over the involvement of a member of an American Special Forces unit in torture and murder of alleged Afghan insurgents has strained ties between Washington and Kabul.

While Afghan authorities are seeking the arrest and prosecution of a man named Zakaria Kandahari, who they insist is a US-born American citizen, along with much of his unit, on torture and murder charges, American officials claim their forces are being wrongly blamed for “atrocities carried out by a rogue Afghan unit,” The New York Times reports Monday.

This is while the Afghan officials emphasize that they have “substantial evidence of American involvement” in employing “counterinsurgency tactics” in Wardak Province which has left scores of Afghans either killed or missing.

These officials say, according to the report, they have “testimony and documents” implicating Kandahari and his unit in the killings or disappearances of 15 Afghans in Wardak, further noting that Kandahari is “of Afghan descent but born and raised in the United States.”

At the center of the allegations mentioned by Afghan officials is an American Special Forces A team that has been based in the Nerkh district until recently.

They say among the evidence in their possession is a videotape of Kandahari “torturing one of the 15 Afghans, a man they identified as Sayid Mohammad,” the report further states.

Afghan officials who have seen the videotape say “a person speaking English with an American accent can be heard supervising the torture session” being carried out by Kandahari.

An unnamed American official, speaking on condition of anonymity, is, however, cited in the report as confirming the existence of the video showing Kandahari but denying that he was an American citizen.

“Everybody in that video is Afghan; there are no American voices,” the official is quoted as saying, further claiming that Kandahari had been an “interpreter” working for the team in the Nerkh district “without pay in exchange for being allowed to live on the base.”

The report goes on to add that after investigating the events in the Nerkh district and finding the claims of American misconduct reliable, the head of the Afghan military General Sher Mohammad Karimi “personally asked the American commander at the time, General John Allen, to hand Mr. Kandahari over to the Afghan authorities.”

“General Allen personally promised General Karimi that the American military would do so within 24 hours,” a senior Afghan official is quoted in the report as saying. “But the promise was not kept, nor was a second promise a day later to hand him over the following morning. The next morning they said he had escaped from them and they did not know where he was.”

The American official then claimed that the US military was not trying to shield Kandahari but that they just “lost contact with him.”

The development comes as American military forces have widely been cited for engaging in torturing, maiming, killing and even massacring suspects and civilians during their occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On occasions, US forces took photos of their atrocities, boasting their misconduct as a sort of recreation.

A number of US soldiers have also admitted to killing Afghan civilians and cutting off their body parts to keep as ‘souvenirs.’

The American military led the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 by mostly NATO forces, vowing to root out terrorism in the country and bringing peace and security to the war-torn nation.

As the US-led occupation continues some 12 years later, however, terrorism, insecurity, mass displacement of civilians and narcotics production and distribution has surged enormously across the country.

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