For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
U.S. Night Raids in Afghanistan
He writes: "Sometime in the last few years, Pashtun villagers in
Afghanistan's rugged heartland began to lose faith in the American
project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this
transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of the night,
when most of the country was fast asleep. In the secretive U.S.
detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and
then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases,
often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their
Gopal reports on a team of U.S. troops, "most of them tattooed and
bearded," who came at 3 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2009 and broke into the Ghazni
city home of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of
Agriculture, killing two of his visiting relatives before taking away
Habib-ur-Rahman, a computer programmer and government employee, and
another cousin, to one of the secret detention centers on a nearby U.S.
military base. "After two days, U.S. forces released Rahman's cousin.
But Rahman has not been seen or heard from since."
Writes Gopal: "Night raids are only the first step in the American
detention process in Afghanistan. Suspects are usually sent to one
among a series of prisons on U.S. military bases around the country.
There are officially nine such jails, called Field Detention Sites in
military parlance. They are small holding areas, often just a clutch of
cells divided by plywood, and are mainly used for prisoner
"In the early years of the war, these were but way stations for
those en route to Bagram prison, a facility with a notorious reputation
for abusive behavior. As a spotlight of international attention fell on
Bagram in recent years, wardens there cleaned up their act and the
mistreatment of prisoners began to shift to the little-noticed Field
"Of the 24 former detainees interviewed for this story, 17 claim
to have been abused at or en route to these sites. Doctors, government
officials, and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, a body
tasked with investigating abuse claims, corroborate 12 of these
Gopal has reported in Afghanistan for the Christian Science
Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. He is currently working on a book
about the Afghan war. The research for this story was supported by the
Fund for Investigative Journalism.
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