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US raids and secret prisons in Afghanistan

Anand Gopal has written a horror filled investigative report on US secret prisons, house raids, and torture in Afghanistan. It is published in TomDispatch, and the Nation. Gopal’s research was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. The article is gruesome but a highly recommended read.

An interview with Anand Gopal is available at TomDispatch, here.

Excerpts from Obama’s Secret Prisons:

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 interrogation.

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 Detention Sites.

…It was the 19th of November 2009, at 3:15 am. A loud blast awoke the villagers of a leafy neighborhood outside Ghazni city, a town of ancient provenance in the country’s south. A team of U.S. soldiers burst through the front gate of the home of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture. Qarar was in Kabul at the time, but his relatives were home, four of whom were sleeping in the family’s one-room guesthouse. One of them, Hamidullah, who sold carrots at the local bazaar, ran towards the door of the guesthouse. He was immediately shot, but managed to crawl back inside, leaving a trail of blood behind him. Then Azim, a baker, darted towards his injured cousin.  He, too, was shot and crumpled to the floor. The fallen men cried out to the two relatives remaining in the room, but they — both children — refused to move, glued to their beds in silent horror.

…Finally, they found the man they were looking for: Habib-ur-Rahman, a computer programmer and government employee.

…“We’ve called his phone, but it doesn’t answer,” says his cousin Qarar, the spokesman for the agriculture minister.

…“I used to go on TV and argue that people should support this government and the foreigners,” he adds. “But I was wrong. Why should anyone do so? I don’t care if I get fired for saying it, but that’s the truth.”

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