Not All Terrorism Fails 11


The wannabe terrorists in Glasgow, and whatever happened in London, fortunately didn’t kill anyone. But terror is often devastatingly effective, as our leaders are lining up to remind us. Here is a good example of devastating terror which caused appalling death and excrutiating injury to the lucky people we liberated in Afghanistan.

‘Up to 80 civilians dead’ after US air strikes in Afghanistan

Witnesses claim a village in British-run Helmand was bombed for three hours after the Taliban attempted to ambush a US-Afghan army convoy

Jason Burke

Sunday July 1, 2007

The Observer

Air strikes in the British-controlled Helmand province of Afghanistan may have killed civilians, coalition troops said yesterday as local people claimed that between 50 and 80 people, many of them women and children, had died.

In the latest of a series of attacks causing significant civilian casualties in recent weeks, more than 200 were killed by coalition troops in Afghanistan in June, far more than are believed to have been killed by Taliban militants.

The bombardment, which witnesses said lasted up to three hours, in the Gereshk district late on Friday followed an attempted ambush by the Taliban on a joint US-Afghan military convoy. According to Mohammad Hussein, the provincial police chief, the militants fled into a nearby village for cover. Planes then targeted the village of Hyderabad. Mohammad Khan, a resident of the village, said seven members of his family, including his brother and five of his brother’s children, were killed.

‘I brought three of my wounded relatives to Gereshk hospital for treatment,’ he told the Associated Press news agency by phone. The villagers were yesterday burying a ‘lot of dead bodies’, Khan said.

He spoke as American forces in Iraq also found themselves heavily criticised over civilian deaths when eight people died, apparently caught in crossfire from a gunfight between insurgents and soldiers in Baghdad’s Sadr City yesterday. But residents, police and hospital officials said eight civilians were killed in their homes and angrily accused US forces of firing blindly on innocent people. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the raids and demanded an explanation for the assault on a district where he has barred American operations in the past.

In Afghanistan, the civilian deaths caused by US and Nato-led troops have infuriated local people and prompted President Hamid Karzai to publicly condemn foreign forces for careless ‘use of extreme force’ and for viewing Afghan lives as ‘cheap’. The increasingly fragile President has urged restraint and better co-ordination of military operations with the Afghan government, while also blaming the Taliban for using civilians as human shields.

Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, raised the issue of civilian casualties on a four-hour visit to Afghanistan on Friday on which he met the senior Nato commander there, the American General Dan McNeill.

Senior British soldiers have previously expressed concerns that McNeill, who took command of the 32,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan only recently, was ‘a fan’ of the massive use of air power to defeat insurgents and that his favoured tactics could be counter-productive.

‘Every civilian dead means five new Taliban,’ said one British officer who has recently returned from Helmand. ‘It’s a tough call when the enemy are hiding in villages, but you have to be very, very careful,’ he added.

The American general has been dubbed ‘Bomber McNeill’ by his critics.

But Nato has ‘never killed and will never intentionally kill innocent civilians’, its secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, told a conference in Macedonia on Friday. ‘The majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by Taliban suicide bombs and roadside bombs.’

US Air Force Major John Thomas said that, after a long skirmish and under constant fire from the Taliban, troops of Isaf (the International Security Assistance Force), called for close air force support during an operation in Helmand, where the Taliban have been resurgent this year.

‘All enemy positions were destroyed, but after friendly forces surveyed the area, there were reports of some possible civilian deaths,’ Thomas said.

‘The remains of some people who appeared to be civilians were found among enemy fighters in a trench line,’ he added. The level of violence has soared in Afghanistan, with more than 2,800 people – mostly Taliban fighters – killed in fighting this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures issued in the last few days by Western military and Afghan officials.

A count by the United Nations and an umbrella organisation of Afghan and international aid groups shows the number of civilians killed by international forces was slightly greater than the number killed by insurgents in the first half of the year. My emphasis

In Helmand’s Sangin district, Nato-led and Afghan troops clashed with Taliban fighters on Friday, leaving 15 of the militants dead, said Ezatullah Khan, a district chief. Helmand is the primary area of operations for the British troops deployed in Afghanistan.

There were no casualties among Nato and Afghan troops, the official said.

More than 3,000 British troops have been deployed in Helmand to combat both the Taliban and the drugs trade. Also in the south, two suspected Taliban members were killed while trying to place a homemade bomb on the side of a road in Zhari district of Kandahar province on Friday, said Ghulam Rasool, the district’s police chief.

Three children were also killed on Friday and another wounded when an old rocket they were playing with exploded in Zabul province in the south, said General Yaqoub Khan, the provincial police chief.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2115846,00.html


11 thoughts on “Not All Terrorism Fails

  • Sabretache

    I can't find words to adequately describe the shame I feel at my 'British' nationality. What NATO, the US and UK are doing in both Afganistan and Iraq is absolutely unconscionable on any measure of human morality. Is it any wonder we are hated with a vengeance by large swathes of humanity?

    But the thing that REALLY galls me about the whole ME imbroglio is the sanctimonious "we're here to help you" terms in which it is constantly justified by our self-righteous political class in their lead crystal houses. Not only is such justification fatuously absurd but it is a lie. And when the real geo-political imperatives of access to what remains of the worlds oil/NG endowment is factored in, a brazen, bare-faced lie to-boot. But our supine Western MSM and reality/celebrity TV engrossed populace are too complicit/distracted/fearful to know or (much worse) care. Implicit in these 'overwhelming force' tactics is the thoroughly racist notion that "well, they're only a bunch of 'Rag-Heads', 'Hadjis', 'Desert Peasants' etc anyway – incapable of rising to our superior form of morality" There are many examples of such sickening language and behaviour by America's finest warrior class on UTube – a couple of examples:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CJqMq_T_uI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5–G-RnfJsQ

    God it really does make me want to retch sometimes.

    For sure I know this, if an Arab army were to occupy my little bit of the Planet with the stated purpose of helping me to 'make the world safe for ……" (fill in the appropriate euphemism), I would become an 'insurgent' and until they got the hell out of my life, I would make life -and death- for them and their masters as difficult and unbearable as I possibly could – Does that ring any bells?

  • Randal

    "But terror is often devastatingly effective, as our leaders are lining up to remind us. Here is a good example of devastating terror which caused appalling death and excrutiating injury to the lucky people we liberated in Afghanistan."

    Always useful in these discussions to recall the two most devastating and effective single acts of terrorism in human history to date.

    The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary and were pure acts of terrorism – designed to terrorise the Japanese government onto submission. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, children and babies were incinerated – killed or horribly mutilated. The terrorism succeeded.

    Never accept the fallacious arguments of those who seek to justify these horrific acts of slaughter as "necessary". Japan was already defeated, and was already making contacts with a view to negotiating surrender terms. Even if one accepts that the US could be justified in killing innocents in order to achieve unconditional surrender (a dubious ethical proposition, at best), there was no need to do it this way, or by a costly amphibious invasion. Japan had no oil, nor any way of getting any. Without oil you cannot fly aircraft or sail modern fleets – cannot, in fact, fight a modern war from an island base.

  • Randal

    "What NATO, the US and UK are doing in both Afganistan and Iraq is absolutely unconscionable on any measure of human morality. Is it any wonder we are hated with a vengeance by large swathes of humanity?"

    But what about what Liddle and all the others tell you: it's all about those "72 virgins"…..?

  • Randal

    And note Blair's ever so clever weasel-worded attack on reality:

    "Tony Blair has launched a powerful attack on 'absurd' British Islamists who have nurtured a false 'sense of grievance' that they are being oppressed by Britain and the United States."

    Blair launches stinging attack on 'absurd' British Islamists
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,…

    Note how (at least according to this account) he uses his politician's cleverness at deception and distorting the issues to structure the argument in his favour. The greatest real grievance at the heart of "islamist" hostility to the US and UK today is the butchery of muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, and US and UK support for the ongoing colonisation by Israel of the West Bank.

    But instead of dealing with this, he focuses narrowly upon secondary issues, as an easy "straw man" target.

  • writeon

    The more civilians we accidentally kill in Afghanistan, the worse it'll get for us. The idea that we can impose democracy on countries of our choice, is questionable at best, absurd in practice.

    Democracy in the West developed over centuries and a a bare minimum required the development of an urban and powerful middle-class; a class willing and able to challange fuedalism, the old order, warlords, and the old, pre-industrial culture.

    I'm not too sure about the whole idea of democracy existing without a solid foundation of wealth and stability.

    I think the idea of imposing democracy on Afghanistan is a fantasy, a delusion. And we are going to pay a high price for this delusion, but not as high as the price the Afghans are going to pay!

    The history of Western intervention in Afghanistan over the last twenty odd years has been a disaster and counter-productive. We supported a fundamentalist religious resistance, directed against a modernising and secular regime, because it was supported by the Russians. The Russians went into Afghanistan precisely because they feared the establishment of a distabilizing Islamic regime on their southern border. A the West helped this fundamentalist regime come to power. Seen in a longer perspective, was this really a wise decision on our part? Continually one asks oneself the same question, over and over again. Why does the West appear to take such short-sighted and dangerous decisions, time after time? Why don't we examine the long-term perspective for a change?

  • ChoamNomsky

    Yes, it shows the standard shocking disregard for civilians. As per usual the human cost of these operations is pushed onto the civilian population to avoid the larger military casualties of going in on the ground. It amounts to sacrificing civilians to save soldiers. Kind of the wrong way round, don't you think?

    However, if you want to use some more Alqaeda-style examples, here are a few.

    In 1985 the CIA backed at attempt to kill Sheikh Fadlallah in Beirut with a car bomb. The bomb killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more.

    Then there is the case of the US mining the harbours of Nicaragua, putting civilian shipping in great peril. This is one of the reasons they were condemned by the ICJ (World Court).

    Then of course there is the famous DGSE terrorist attack on the Rainbow Warrior. We now know Mitterrand gave personal approval for the operation, despite condemning it at the time.

    I can't think of any Alqaeda-style tactics the UK government has used. They tend to be rarer because governments have better resources than amateur terrorists and tend to use air-power instead. I suppose there is the alleged M16 bomb attack against Gadaffi.

  • ummabdulla

    But it's OK every time they kill innocent civilians, because they're noble and they didn't mean to do it. And anyway, it's the "terrorists"'s fault, because they were in their houses or villages where civilians are… apparently, they're supposed to stand out in an open area with bullseyes on their backs.

    I recently saw "Lion of the Desert", about the Libyan fight against the Italian occupation. It's a good story in itself, but it was also fascinating to see that the Italians were doing and saying the same kind of things that the Americans and British, and NATO, are saying and doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan. They never learn…

  • ChoamNomsky

    "And anyway, it's the "terrorists"'s fault, because they were in their houses or villages where civilians are…"

    Yes, it's such a pathetic excuse isn't it? So if a US soldier takes cover behind a house in a shootout, can the enemy just bazooka the house and say "We'll it's the US soldiers fault for hiding behind civilians."?

    When they order an airstrike in a populated area, they know damn well they are going to kill civilians. Instead of deliberately killing civilians, they should be going in on the ground. It's more dangerous for the soldiers, but sacrificing civilians to cut down military casualties is criminal.

Comments are closed.