Skip to comments.CIA blunder sparked Taleban revolt that became a mass suicide
Posted on 11/28/2001 2:41:44 PM PST by KQQL
CIA blunder sparked Taleban revolt that became a mass suicide
OLIVER AUGUST WITNESSES A MASSACRE
'Michael asked one Taleban why he had come to Afghanistan. He said: 'We are here to kill you' and jumped at Michael, who shot him and three others before being wrestled to the ground'
WHETHER it was incompetence, overconfidence or duty that prompted two CIA operatives to interrogate dozens of Taleban on their own will perhaps remain a mystery. But their decision triggered a revolt that became the single bloodiest engagement since the Afghan war began.
The siege of Kala-i Janghi, the ancient mudbrick fortress near Mazar-i Sharif, ended yesterday when the last foreign Taleban of Konduz were wiped out.
It began on Sunday morning, when the estimated 800 foreign fighters Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens and terrorists of the al-Qaeda network imprisoned in the old fort suddenly turned on their outnumbered Northern Alliance captors.
A witness said: The fighting started when the Taleban were being questioned by two men from the CIA. They wanted to know where they had come from and whether they might be al-Qaeda.
Both CIA operatives were dressed in Afghan robes, had grey beards and spoke Persian. One of them was known as Michael, the other as David.
Michael asked one Taleb why he had come to Afghanistan. He replied: Were here to kill you, and jumped at Michael, who killed him and three others with his pistol before being wrestled to the ground.
The witness said: The Taleban beat, kicked and bit him to death.
David also killed at least one Taleb, but was then forced to flee. He said later: There was no way of stopping them. They ran straight into gunfire.
David sprinted out of the building where the prisoners were being interrogated and across a courtyard into the main building to call for help. He told his commander over a satellite phone: I think Michael is dead.
Now, after three days of US airstrikes, desperate resistance and continuous assault, the death-toll includes scores of Northern Alliance fighters and every one of the resisting prisoners.
In the swiftly minted military euphemism, this was an uprising, but it was also an act of mass suicide and, in the end, a slaughter: by Afghans, of foreigners, directed by Britons and Americans.
Yesterday the twisted bodies of the dead were littered around the gardens of Kala-i Janghi on the outskirts of Mazar-i Sharif, but just a week ago the Uzbek Northern Alliance leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the king of this castle, drank green tea under the trees with Mullah Faizal, the Taleban commander in Konduz. The two warlords discussed what to do about the Talebans fanatical foreign legion, trapped in Konduz.
It was agreed that the mullah and his Afghan Taleban fighters would be given safe passage after surrender, but the foreign fighters would be handed over to General Dostum. It is not clear whether Mullah Faizal had any idea what the notorious general intended to do with the Talebans foreign fanatics, or much cared. General Dostum, who uses the castle as a military base and to stable his horses, had decided to use it as a prison camp to clear a logjam of Taleban prisoners on the road between Konduz and Mazar-i Sharif.
On Saturday the foreigners duly surrendered in Konduz, laid down their weapons (at least in theory) and were taken into custody by General Dostums forces and driven to the fort outside Mazar-i Sharif. Some of the surrendering Taleban apparently agreed to travel to Mazar without resistance under the impression that they were about to attack it.
On arrival at the dusty fortress, at least two of the vehicles containing the Taleban were not searched, the first of a litany of bizarre mistakes by their jailers.
Some of the Taleban still carried weapons beneath their clothes as they were herded into the basement. Others were said to have been astonished and enraged to find themselves suddenly incarcerated. It was rumoured that the most extreme elements had wanted to be jailed in the fort, intending to try to seize it from within, and stage a last, suicidal stand.
General Dostum had allegedly given assurances that the prisoners would be not be mistreated, but there is no evidence that the captured Taleban expected to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, or had a clue any such thing existed. Warfare in Afghanistan has its own, bloodier conventions.
On Saturday night, a Chechen prisoner approached a group of his Northern Alliance jailers, and detonated a hand grenade, killing himself, several other prisoners, and two Alliance commanders. But the main explosion did not take place until the CIA intervention on Sunday morning. Rebellion may also have been sparked by efforts to tie up the Taleban prisoners, many of whom apparently believed they were about to be killed. About 250 had been bound, according to one report, before the rest rebelled.
After killing Michael whose body is still inside the camp, despite efforts by US special forces to retrieve it the Taleban prisoners then overwhelmed the 20 Northern Alliance guards, killing them too; the skull of one was crushed with a rock.
The time was 11.20am. David telephoned the US Embassy in Uzbekistan on his satellite telephone: We have lost control of the situation. Send in helicopters and troops. The CIA agent had time to warn two Red Cross workers, who scrambled down the walls, as their vehicles inside were set alight by the rampaging prisoners.
The Taleban, armed with the guards weapons, then stormed the armoury. David estimated that the Taleban captured an initial batch of about 30 guns and then found two anti-tank weapons and two grenade launchers.
Within three hours of the uprising, US and British special forces arrived in Land Rovers, some in uniform and some in civilian clothes, and the battle to retake Kala-i Janghi began in earnest. Witnesses said it was quickly apparent that trained soldiers were taking part in the assault, as the ragged bursts of Alliance machine-gun fire were replaced by the steady single-shooting of marksmen.
The fight for control quickly enveloped most of the 19th-century castle. The Taleban were able to capture the south side, helped by the fact that only about 100 deeply nervous Northern Alliance soldiers were guarding the Taleban.
The witness said: David asked his superiors for choppers to be brought in, as well as ground troops to get everyone out. They sent about 40 American soldiers, but the choppers were too far away in Uzbekistan. Davids people offered to bring in gunships and bomb the Taleban. They would flatten the whole castle and kill us all. David told them twice they shouldnt do that. They were really pressing for airstrikes and after three hours they started. I have to say they were precise. They hit the target, or at least they didnt hit us.
The witness said: David kept saying we have to get out of here before it gets dark or we will all die. We couldnt look over the wall where the Taleban were. It was too dangerous to look. It was a very uncomfortable run, but we made it.
The Northern Alliance gave no quarter. A few of the fainter-hearted Taleban managed to get out, and were swiftly put to death, according to witnesses. A pair of Taleban corpses could be seen propped in a gateway, each killed by a single bullet to the head.
That night an Alliance spokesman claimed that the fortress was under its control; nothing could have been further from the truth.
On Monday, the US intensified its bombardment and the Northern Alliance did not hide its intentions. Those who are left over will be dead, Alim Razim, General Dostums adviser, said.
But so far from the high-tech precision battle by highly trained special forces, the battle for the fort at times resembled something far more ancient, confused and inefficient. One smart bomb went astray, seriously wounding five US soldiers and killing and wounding a number of Northern Allaince troops.
The insurgents were thought to be led by Tahir Uldosh, a commander of the Uzbek revolutionary Islamic movement. But, in reality, no leader was necessary because the aims and orders of the Taleban resisters could hardly have been simpler: kill until you are killed.
By nightfall on Monday the Taleban, their numbers whittled down to perhaps 100 men, were still holding out. That night the smell of roasting meat wafted across the compound. The Taleban had killed a horse, for what would be, for all of them, a last meal.
Early yesterday, lorries carrying 200 Northern Alliance fighters and an anti-aircraft gun arrived at the fortress, as desert-camouflage-clad special forces troops moved in and United States warplanes circled above.
After a night of continuous bombardment by US gunships, the number of surviving Taleban was still further reduced, and by mid-morning the Northern Alliance had pushed the Taleban back into a large compound inside the PoW camp. One US special forces soldier called the bombing fireworks youll never forget. AC130 Spectre attack helicopters flew overhead five times, hovering and firing at close range.
The night-time raids left many bodies half-buried in the ground. Limbs and torsos rose out of the disturbed ground like tree trunks after a forest fire. The compound where the Taleban made their last stand was divided into two halves by a group of low buildings.
A tank attacked the western half of the compound, an exercise ground that now saw more vicious fighting than any young recruit could ever have imagined. By noon, the ground was littered with countless mangled bodies.
Next, the Northern Alliance moved into the compounds eastern half, which was covered with trees, occasionally used by suicidal Taleban snipers. Surprisingly slowly for such an overwhelming force, the Alliance soldiers combed the greenery pockmarked with bodies.
They took no chances, or prisoners. One soldier fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a dead Taleban at close range.
One Taleban fighter, most likely Chechen, was still breathing as he lay in a ditch, his chest rising and falling. Junior Northern Alliance soldiers threw stones at his head.
When they saw dead Taleban, the Alliance soldiers would stop to take their shoes. Many Afghans have reported that the foreign Taleban fighters usually had the best equipment, apparently paid for by Osama bin Laden.
The soldiers would sit on the ground in the middle of a gunbattle casually unlacing a pair of boots or olive green trainers. When a commander saw them, he lashed them with a horse whip.
As soon as the Alliance soldiers had taken another Taleban position, they would use the newly captured weapons to pursue the next pocket. Piles of mortars, fuses and artillery pieces lay scattered among the bodies.
Alim Razim, General Dostums adviser, finally declared: The situation is completely under control. All of them were killed.
To clear the last pockets of Taleban resistance in the afternoon, Alliance soldiers approached the houses in the middle of the compound and fired at random into basement windows. Some 20-litre petrol cannisters were thrown in, then grenades.
As night fell once more, after three days of fighting, sporadic gunfire could still be heard; but these were celebrating Alliance troops, it seemed, for the guns on the other side had at last been silenced, and the Taleban killed to a man.
Of course the question is, how many of those were the fault of the CIA's own blundering...and how many others may have gone unnoticed or unreported. I know firsthand of the death of one CIA spook written off as an *accident* that was due to hostile action, and there've almost certainly been others.
A hundred? two hundred? five hundred, a thousand? I shouldn't be a bit surprised.
Sounds like we have a new weapon an AC-130 helicopter - wow. where's the BS detector?
It would seem to me, if you are getting weaponry into the holding area, you are intending to use it. It would seem to me that if you explode a grenade the day before to kill some jailers, that shows your intent to use it. I think it's a pretty far stretch from there to say that the uprising was caused by the CIA, it would seem to me that the priosners chose that moment to start the fight.
But you sure wouldn't get that by scanning the headline.
And then this morning some more journalists came. There was a guy from the Guardian in London and a woman called Claire from the New York Times. They were interviewing Taliban prisoners when the Taliban suddenly just pounced on them. They beat the British guy quite badly, but he was rescued and taken out of the fort. But that's when the Taliban grabbed guns off the Northen Alliance, overpowered them, killed at least twenty and the Northern Alliance lost control of the fort and had to withdraw from the fort.
This article is just one left-wing British rag covering for another. I can see the Guardian bleeding-heart now..."Mate, you know the Yanks are going to kill you right? They have participated with the NA in atrocities since the start. If I was you I would make a break for it now."
D'accord, and many good reports are strangled at birth by unknowledgable hack rewrite and editing jobs, to be certain. But it sounds like they got this part right:
Witnesses said it was quickly apparent that trained soldiers were taking part in the assault, as the ragged bursts of Alliance machine-gun fire were replaced by the steady single-shooting of marksmen.
Just like the way caves were dealt with on Iwo in '45, this is another Pacific war lesson that we should not have to re-learn.
If you're referring to Mike Spann, it's horribly disrespectful to one who gave his life for our country.
The AC 130 is a huuuuuuuuge plane, not a helicopter.
God bless and speed him on his way.
Right on - and he lies too! Please read the paragraph below that I posted earlier on another thread.
"I read a transcript from a Time Mag reporter on the scene who clearly said the reporter that set the whole prison mele off was from the "Guardian"! Thats the most liberal paper in England - leave it to the liberals to screw things up. The Time report said that the prisoners reacted negatively (ie: setting off grenades) to the presence of his obviously "western" face. He had walked into a group of prisoners - an act that the Time guy said he had been warned against." (end previous post)
Now the UK (UcK) Times and the New York Times are in a conspiracy to revise the truth (and history) only 48 hours after the fact! Is that a new record for the liberal press - probably not!!
The headline gave it away. Obviously, it can't be the fault of the liberal press, so it MUST be the fault of the CIA.