May 21, 2013
Laborers digging a water ditch just 200 yards from a former US Special Forces outpost in Afghanistan have discovered the body of a missing Afghan man, Sayid Mohammad, who was last seen being taken to the base after being taken into custody by men associated with the US military.
According to the New York Times, Afghan officials say both of Mohammad's feet had been cut off and that he was buried inside a "military-style black body bag."
The discovery of the mutilated body is just the latest development in a bizarre but pivotal series of events that have pitted the authority of Afghan President Hamid Karzai against the occupying military power of the US military and NATO.
Protests erupted earlier this year following claims that US-backed "death squads" were operating in Wardak Province. In response, Karzai ordered all US soldiers to leave the district, but the mysterious activities and disappearances of Afghan citizens sparked questions about the level of US involvement.
As the Times reports:
Afghan investigators said that after his disappearance, [Mohammad] was seen in a video being tortured by an Afghan-American named Zakaria Kandahari, whom the officials identified as the chief interpreter for an American Army Special Forces A Team stationed at the base. The American military denies that Mr. Kandahari is an American citizen and said he was no longer working for the A Team when the video was made.
Relatives of Mr. Mohammad said his corpse was largely complete, except both feet had been cut off. Afghan officials say the partial remains and clothing of another missing person had been found earlier near the base, which is now occupied by Afghan Special Forces after the American unit left in March.
Afghan officials are seeking Mr. Kandahari's arrest on murder, torture and abuse of prisoner charges, and accuse the American military of shielding him from capture.
Though US officials deny knowing where Kandahari is, what he may have done, or taking any responsibility for the activities seen in the torture video, the Afghan government's chief investigtor told the Times the connection is obvious.
"There is no question that Zakaria directly tortured and murdered," he said. "But who is Zakaria? Who recruited him, gave him his salary, his weapons? Who kept him under their protection? He worked for Special Forces. That a member of their team was committing such crimes and they didn't know it is just not credible."
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