US soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians in rampage

A US soldier murdered 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood after leaving his combat outpost in Panjwai district in Kandahar province last night. From the BBC:

The soldier has not been named, but is thought to be a staff sergeant.

He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

“Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,” Haji Samad, an elder from Najeeban village, told the AFP news agency.

Haji Sayed Jan, from Alkozai village, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “My home was attacked and I lost four family members”.

A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.

The soldier – who had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.

ISAF has released a statement from Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, the deputy ISAF commander, on the attack:

In my role as in-theatre commander of ISAF in Gen. Allen’s temporary absence on duty, I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province. One of our soldiers is reported to have killed and injured a number of civilians in villages adjacent to his base. I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity. An investigation is already underway and every effort will be made to establish the facts and hold anyone responsible to account. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in this tragedy. I wish once again, on behalf of Gen. Allen and all members of ISAF, to convey our deep regrets and sorrow at this appalling incident.

Predictably, the Taliban have jumped all over this incident to score a propaganda coup, calling the killings “genocide” and claiming it was an intentional act by US troops and backed by the Afghan National Army. From the Voice of Jihad:

The so called American peace keepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province.

According to recent reports arriving from the area, the American invaders backed by their puppets (ANA) left their base last night (11/03/2012) and raided several homes of locals, located near their base in Balambi village of Panjwaee district.

Witnesses from the scene say that during the raids, the American terrorists and their puppets shot the household members at point blank range and so far 50 bodies have been found and recovered by the villagers among which, 11 are from the home of Muhammad Wazir including himself. The unsuspecting innocent victims have been sprayed with hundreds of bullets and have been cold-bloodedly martyred.

The villagers say that this genocidal act, carried out by Americans and their hireling ANA took place last night at around midnight, adding that due to tens of civilians taking shelter in safe houses to protect themselves from this horror, many bodies have not yet been found which could potentially increase the number of casualties.

In this night time operation, the barbaric American terrorists have also burnt down a number of homes of the ordinary people. Some news outlets have cited the Americans as saying that the casualties have been caused by airstrikes however the villagers categorically reject this claim and invite all to examine the victims who have either been shot or have been martyred by hand grenades hurled inside their rooms. Most of the victims are local villagers, women and children.

Alemara website is trying to gather the names of the victims and other details of this crime committed last night.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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31 Comments

  • steve says:

    The advocates for this war have got to explain their position. How is Afg a threat to US security? Even if al queda is able to return to the country how is Afg any different from Somalia or Yemen in terms of being a safe haven.?

  • MASOUD says:

    HEJ!
    IF USA DO NOT PUNISH THAT OFFICER. OTHERWISE PEOPLE WILL CALL TALEBAN HEROS.
    NOT PUTTING AT THE JIAL TOW OR THREE YEARS.

  • Luca says:

    @steve: for two reasons, one ideological, the other tactical; Because Afghanistan to AQ and friends is part of the Khurasan, which in muslim radical eschatology is where the faithful win the first battle against the forces of evil (which is us, lol!); because it is much harder (politically, economically, logistically) to sustain military operations in boony-land Afghanistan than it is in either Yemen or Somalia (which have long and exposed coastlines). Thus Afghanistan to our enemies will always be a bigger prize AND a better hide-out/base to operate from. Bottomline: Mission Not Accomplished – we still need to squish them or to pay some local who needs to be both willing and able to do so. Otherwise we will be back sooner or later.

  • mike merlo says:

    re: steve
    What’s there to explain. The AfPak theater was used as a platform to train, support, disperse personnel etc., for just about every terrorist action of significance targeting the US, Middle East, SE Asia, Europe, Russia, Africa to & including 9 11.
    Every major heroin trafficker in the world has an ‘office’ in Karachi with network’s in Afghanistan. Somalia & Yemen do not have an Iran or Pakistan on their border.

  • James says:

    This could be the actions of a ‘lone nut.’
    Steve, you are correct. It’s time to hit the reset button concerning Afghanistan.
    Why can’t our guys train those ANA soldiers off-site, (like at NATO installations in Europe)?

  • Rookie says:

    The poster above me is the epitenome of the majority of Americans nowadays.
    It is obvious that taliban will return in power in Afghanistan, and sooner or later another 2001, much deadlier, will occur.
    Maybe this message will be censored, but I send my best regards to the brave soldier and his family, and hopefully more soldiers will send a message to muslims and Americans like steve that they are not just sheep to a PC slaughter. The war is won by the side doing the most bloodshed, “civilians” or not. You don’t agree with this, bend over and buy a prayer rug.
    In other news this month, taliban happily slaughter another 1000 afghanis, women and children included, and the muslim world is just nodding in approval.

  • Blackhawk Squadron says:

    Can we please end this ridiculous war?
    “Animo et Fide!”

  • Nolan says:

    I’ve read this site for a long time and I think the above comment by “Rookie” is perhaps the most appalling statement I have EVER read on here. Th side that does the most bloodshed is the victor? That sort of ignorance and viciousness will only spawn more violence. Quite frankly, your statement of calling this soldier “brave” is offensive to every American and American soldier. Our military does an outstanding job, but they will ALL tell you that they are not in the business of murdering children you small minded idiot. Murdering civilians is not what this war is about. We are not at war with Muslims, despite your foolish remarks. We have been at war with militants, terrorists, religious extremists, etc. Not the Afghan people, not Islam, not all people difference from us. Your views make you as dangerous as those who so many have given their lives to fight against. While you have the right to speak freely as you will, you should do somewhere in a dark secluded corner by yourself.

  • Tina says:

    Once the Afgan military started to kill American and Nato soldiers without any retaliation or support for our troops, Obama should have given the order to withdraw our troops completely. This is all in Obama hands. Sure our men are falling apart. They have no support. The political early withdrawal from Afgan and Iraq, left a skeleton crew of soldiers that is overwhelmed -and the only thing Obama does is send money to get us killed -look at Pakistan. Millions of dollars in aid which they used to kill us and hide Bin Laden.

  • Gitmo-Joe says:

    You deliver severe punishment like we did at Tora Bora and you leave. You don’t try to “fix” the country. If you want fix the world don’t join the military, go join an NGO.
    You go in. You kill. You leave. We should have been in and out there in 9 months and then done drone strikes for maintenance.
    Why do we have such a hard time with this concept? The truth is even after 9/11 we felt we couldn’t say we are just going in to kill bad guys. We had to say we are going in to help the Afghan people. And here we are. Will we ever learn?

  • Neo says:

    Repley: Steve
    Why Afghanistan?
    From 1993 to 2001 Afghanistan served as primary sanctuary and training ground for the international jihad. Al Qaeda’s primary purpose was threefold:
    1. Set up a political entity (Islamic State) for the support of the jihad.
    2. Train cadre for leadership and technical roles in other conflicts across Asia & Africa.
    3. Support the strategy to directly attack the western powers.
    Cadre were trained for directly supporting dozens of conflicts across Asia & Northern Africa. Al Qaeda’s assets in Afghanistan have been tapped into for multiple terrorist attacks and wars, including 9/11.
    Why Afghanistan is more important than Somalia or Yemen?
    Afghanistan was chosen by Al Qaeda over both Yemen and The Sudan for a number of reasons.
    1. Historical. Al Qaeda could tap into a pre-existing militant network left over from the Soviet – Afghan war. They had access to both local and international recruits who were politically and culturally sympathetic. More importantly they had strong backing by sympathetic elements within the Pakistani intelligence services and political apparatus.
    2. Afghanistan is very difficult operational terrain. It is also very difficult political terrain with no real sense of government in a modern sense. It is tribal, with loyalties coming down to tribe or family group.
    3. Afghanistan is landlocked and politically shielded. Any attempt to get into the country involves deep political entanglements with Pakistan, Russia, or Iran. Getting to them in Somalia or Yemen doesn’t involve quite as many entanglements. There are no third party borders to cross and no deep supply lines through hostile countries, as there are through Pakistan and Central Asia. In a nutshell attacking Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is inherently politically destabilizing. You must have the cooperation of major political powers to maintain a presence in Afghanistan.

  • Afghan says:

    Barely days since the protests against the desecration of Holy Quran have gone quite and now this, what the hell is going on? The whole “hearts & minds” mission is going down the toilet because of the actions of an idiot. This savage should be tried under Afghan Law, it will help in managing the anger of the afghan people, apologies and condemnation has been used one too often, time for some action.
    @Rookie, the actions of this coward can only be defended by another coward like yourself. If things keep on going this way, it will be the ANA shooting you down not the Taliban. While people like you think the world is a game, innocent members of the US military will have to pay for the actions of a psycho just as we saw few days back and the end result will only benefit the extremists neither Afghanistan nor USA.

  • Neo says:

    Reply: Blackhawk Squadron
    “Can we please end this ridiculous war”
    Wishful thinking. Between 1993 and now Al Qaeda & associated movements have been very busy. They have extensively supported wars across Asia & Africa.
    Major wars Al Qaeda and associated movements have been involved in:
    Afghanistan
    Algeria
    Kashmir (India)
    First & Second Chechnyan War (Russia)
    Pakistan
    Philippines
    Somalia
    Sudan
    Eritrea
    Tajikistan
    Iraq
    Yemen
    Major Involvement in conflicts:
    Bosnia
    Kosivo (Serbia)
    Tunisia
    Mauritania
    Nigeria
    Libya
    Egypt
    Georgia
    Uzbekistan
    Southern Thailand
    Indonesia
    Major Terrorist Attacks In:
    Russia
    United States
    United Kingdom
    France
    Spain
    Germany
    Netherlands
    Saudi Arabia
    Turkey
    Kuwait
    Western China
    Bangladesh
    Kazakhstan
    Kenya
    Tanzania
    Uganda
    Chad
    Niger
    Mali
    It isn’t going to end real soon. It will outlast the war in Afghanistan.

  • Rookie says:

    GOOD LORD!!!!
    “Train those ANA soldiers off-site, (like at NATO installations in Europe)” ???
    So you want to bring thousands of terrorists (because ANA are just that, muslim terrorists – you stop their pay, they’ll join Taliban in a heartbeat and start beheading people) in Europe. When I’ll see 1 non-muslim Afghani saved and protected by ANA forces, that would be a day to celebrate.
    How about training them in Pennsylvania? After all a guy who mocked a 1400 years-dead pedophile and murderer just got a beating there and the “judge” deemed the beating A-OK. Enough with the bright ideas on other nations expense, play nation building on your own turf.
    And hey masoud… you call your people killing civilians martirs, and shaheeds. If those bloody illiterate murderers are your heroes, then the US soldier should be decorated. Tit for tat.

  • Villiger says:

    Sincere condolences to the families who lost members in this senseless act.
    This war has to be won for several strategic reasons:
    A. You have a bunch of barbarians masquerading as “true Muslims”–they are not, and this needs to be made clear to them and to the whole world and to the whole Muslim world.
    B. Influential segments of these barbarians are sponsored by the State of Pakistan who without basis and irrationally believe they can control them to their advantage. They are wrong and their dangerous game needs to be stopped.
    C. Pakistan, unlike other AQ bases has a serious, illegitimate stockpile of nuclear weapons, which, given the nebulous local environment, is exposed to pilferage. If as in B. the game is not stopped, this existential risk will increase manifold. Further, with neighbor India also nuclear armed the risk of a nuclear war triggered in 50 different ways, inadvertently or mindfully by desperado barbarians is a real and present danger.
    For me these are 3 good reasons, relatively easy to understand.
    Admittedly, if Pakistan was not nuclear-armed or, was not deeply intertwined in the War, (don’t forget where OBL lay hidden; the structure, roots and branches, still remain within Pakistan), a different strategy may well be appropriate.
    By not addressing Pakistan’s nukes at the UN, the World is carrying an extraordinary and present risk. The US and Britain, as i see it, are the two primarily to be blamed for this policy of benign neglect.

  • flloyd says:

    this guy killed the village elders family,any connection to this leaders support for alq and taliban would be my question,these people smile all day at our trops and then at night go out and plant ied’s,maybe this will be a message to the backstabbers actually running this piece of crap country.

  • Spooky says:

    @Rookie
    Hey, how about you get off the computer and do it yourself if you’re so interested in applauding this horrid behavior as somehow something that the Afghan children deserved for being Muslim. Please. I’ll watch as you do it, and I’ll watch as they take you away to rot.
    People like you are exactly why Americans are despised. Stop giving a bad name to the countless men and women who have been exemplary at showcasing the best that Americans can be, the ones who have the graditude of the many for all the assistance given to them.

  • Gitmo-Joe says:

    The game is over. We have defeated ourselves. Whether it is prison sex videos, photos of us pissing on dead guys, having local Afghans burn korans, or this shooting, bottom line is 50 to 100 jokers in uniform have defeated the U.S. Military.
    It has nothing to do with morality. Its has everything to do with strategy. When fighting an insurgency rule #1; You don’t make propaganda films for the enemy.

  • villiger says:

    Steve and James
    Looks like you’re going to have your way anyway.
    An early enough run to the exit doors. Another job half-finished: By the most adept army in the world with the most inept sense of timing and politicians.
    //www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/9135903/Our-big-mistake-was-to-assume-we-had-won-says-British-ambassador-to-Afghanistan.html
    As for the nukes we’ll just have to see through some massive destruction before humanity really wakes up to how poorly evolved we really are.

  • Warhawk says:

    Killing the enemy’s civilians is as old as war itself. Such strategy brings fear to the heart of the enemy and discourages them to fight. America has much to learn from the Syrian Army, who will soon crush the rebellion with their brutal strategy. Around the world, only the American military thinks it is a bad thing to slaughter enemy civilian. It is no wonder that America, with all its military might, suffered so much for so long in Iraq and Afghansitan

  • James says:

    “The poster above me is the epitenome of the majority of Americans nowadays.”
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2012/03/us_soldier_kills_16_afghan_civ.php#ixzz1ox20KYde
    To Rookie,
    With all due respects, you should study the history of warfare before you make a statement like that.
    Case in point: Vietnam (research the meaning of the phrase “free-fire zone”, and look what that got US).
    It’s like you are saying, “If you can’t win them then just join them ! ! ! ” Or, maybe you should just say rather bluntly, “fight terror with terror.”
    Hitler tried that strategy against Stalin and look who won (Stalin, who history has now shown us was more of a tyrant than Hitler ever was).
    To Bill and any other more-realistic types out there, how’s this for a suggestion:
    A national referendum vote by the Afghans whether or not our conventional forces should stay or go.
    Also, I think we should have a secret ballot by our soldiers over there on the same (or similar) issue(s).
    Let’s make it voluntarily for them to go over there if they choose to (in the meantime, we could just grandfather the change-of-strategy in).
    I still want to know why these [so-called “good”] Afghans can’t be trained off-site (like at NATO installations in Europe, for example).
    Here, I emphasize Turkey which is:
    a. a traditional NATO ally;
    b. a predominantly Muslim nation; and,
    c. a ‘freedom and democracy’ [according to the GW Bush definition of such].
    Now, before the critics to the above suggestion interject and juxtapose that: “You can’t train a half million man army off-site, the costs and resources needed would be intolerable,” I say this, who says it has to be a half-million man army?
    We do what we can and what we can afford, no more, no less.

  • Mike S. says:

    We should not let the actions of one of our own allow for a change in strategy any more than when a similar atrocity occurs against us.
    The accused soldier was on his 4th deployment, received a TBI in his previous, and was suffering marriage problems while being deployed just prior to another round of holidays away from his kids.
    In any aircraft accident there is an investigation that ultimately yields a chain of events that led to catastrophe. In this case it appears that there is a similar chain of events leading up to this point.
    From a leadership standpoint, if the chain of events in this soldier’s life are true, there are many more in his chain of command that deserve the blame. I’m not sure how anyone in any leadership capacity could not have seen this coming had they actually cared for their men. This did not have to happen.
    While this soldier may pay the ultimate price for his crimes, I feel especially sorry for his wife and kids and the hell they have and will surely endure.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    My apologies for the delay in publishing some of the comments above, I ran into a technical issue…

  • Neonmeat says:

    @ Warhawk,
    You admire Syrian methods? So its seems you would like to live under the rule of a Ba’athist Dictatorship then? Rather than a Democracy where you are free to spout such rubbish.
    The point is ISAF is a humane miltary force THAT is what makes us DIFFERENT from AQ and the Tabilan we do not kill civilians on purpose.
    @Neo
    Excellent informative comments, however was AQ really involved the First Chechen War? I know of Khattab but I was of the opinion Russia really tagged them as Al Qaeda to avoid Western noses looking to closeley at their actions in the Caucausus. Although a lot chechens were probably trained in AQ camps in Afghanistan.
    However now that insurgency has clearly moved into the AQ driven ideology of its own accord.
    @ Rookie
    Although his comments are extreme I think it is a sign of the frustration people are feeling watching our soliders die seemingly senselessly in this War. It is all to easy to fall into hate.

  • Graham says:

    Bill, there are some pretty nasty people in this thread. Some posters are explicitly applauding the massacre and suggesting that such atrocities should be taken as a matter of policy.

  • James says:

    Steve and James
    Looks like you’re going to have your way anyway.
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2012/03/us_soldier_kills_16_afghan_civ.php#ixzz1p1sdT3UI
    Villiger, I’m not saying for US to just “cut and run.” I’m saying, “hit the reset button,” or, how about “back to the drawing board”, or, “start from scratch.”
    I agree with you 100% that we should be working more closely with India, especially with respect to a combined intelligence gathering capacity.
    Let the mission that eliminated bin laden serve as a role model on how we should be fighting this war. I say, eliminate the bad guys and then leave.
    As far as Afghanistan is concerned, there should only be at most a minimal (if any) conventional force footprint. Everything else should be done by lightning-strike hit-and-run commando units.
    If any long-term bases of operations are absolutely needed over there, I say put them up as high as we can in elevation and away from the heavily populated areas.
    It could well be that he who prevails in a topography/terrain like that of Afghanistan needs to be he that can seize [and hold] the high ground.

  • Cwilliams18x says:

    We do train the ANA on “NATO” installations on Europe.
    JMRC Hohensfeld.

  • Villiger says:

    James, thanks for clarifying. I agree with you that a “reset” button is necessary. But, with all the incompetence we have witnessed,who is going to lead this?
    The US has been completely outwitted by Pakistan. Unbelievable but true, a fact. A smart strategy is required but there don’t seem to be too many smart leaders around.
    On India, the US needs not only to engage with it on the tactical level of intel gathering, but at a strategic level with the objective of settling the whole AfPak region. Yes the problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan are intertwined. If this is not fully and properly understood, lets not waste time.
    Key questions to ask in resolving the conflict in this region are:
    -How can Pakistan be de-fanged, especially of its nukes?
    -How can the US ensure a safe, reliable and continuous land-route supply-line into Afghanistan?
    -How can the Afghans be assured of continued access to a sea-port in order to sustain trade?
    -What are the aspirations of the Baloch people? Of the Pashtun people?
    -Indeed, what are the economic aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani peoples?
    -What is the legitimate role of the Pakistani Army, including it insidious ISI?
    Point is: Ask the right questions and the answers will be found. The answers are in the questions. But, if you want to continue with a myopic view, without a finer understanding of the local environment, spending $10billion a month, carry on.
    Finally, its people that deliver a result. The Obama/Clinton/Gates team and whoever else on the military side have failed miserably, compounding the blunders of Bush’s previous Govt.
    McDonalds does a better job, by far, of understanding its local environment than Foggy Bottom. And your Brit cousins, who should be historically and culturally more hinged, haven’t done any better, have they?

  • kush dragon says:

    Neonmeat-
    I agree with your assessment of Rookie’s comments, hate begets hate. Ever since these rouge Afghan soldiers began killing our troops I’ve expected something like this might happen.
    That said Rookie, re-evaluate your moral compass. It’s pretty messed up.

  • Rookie says:

    I see people pretty fire-up here, good.
    First, I’m not an American – so you can sleep easily now. For those giving me history lessons – USA killed a great deal of civilians in WW2, in Germany aerial bombardments, in Japan (hellooo?) and many other countries after that. You become politically correct only since the 90’s, when you start considering communism and islam as viable options.
    Stalin beat Hitler with exactly that, terror: terror on his own people, millions killed on gulags, terror on POWs, millions killed in mines, on occupied countries like mine – hundreds of thousands of civilians sent after war to gulags and killed. So terror works – unfortunately he exercised that on mostly innocent people.
    Millions of 12 years olds trained in madrassas to get your neck – how you can cope with that? Re-education camps? At 14 they know how to shoot a gun and have kids of their own.
    Also, my moral compass is A-ok. Thank you for islam/sharia infested countries like Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan (since Russians got out), Pakistan, Lybia, Egypt and countless others. Don’t forget to send them military and humanitarian aid, too.
    I can understand a fanatic, but hypocrites and “good-doers” make my sick. Just arm yet another al-quaeda faction in Syria and hope for the best.

  • villiger says:

    Rookie, i like a good debate and in that spirit you make a good riposte. I am not going to ‘hang’ you because you are not the one who gunned those people down.
    I do, however, sense your frustration and aggression and believe that the US has fundamentally mis-directed this war so that it is ending up in frustration across the board of those in support of the war as also those not.
    As for Islam, while i reject every organized religion as man-made mythologies, Islam undoubtedly has a particularly aggressive mischievous streak running through it.
    Instead of dealing with that, the US has been out-flanked and out-manuevered, by the largest Islamic Army in the world without the latter hardly firing a shot. And the US paid their foe very handsomely for it and are still doing so! At the same time they are trying to paint this idiocy as a win.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis