CIA-backed death squads in Afghanistan have committed a number of human rights violations over the last year, a Human Rights Watch report found Thursday, and the militant groups are likely to be the lasting legacy of the U.S. war in the country.
“These are not isolated cases.”
—Patricia Grossman, Human Rights Watch
“They do counterinsurgency the old-fashioned way,” tweeted Daily Beast national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, “terrorizing the populace.”
The HRW report reviewed cases of abuse from late 2017 to the middle of 2019 in Afghanistan, interviewing 39 Afghans and a number of rights groups in the country. The group found a pattern of extreme violence from the CIA-trained and backed death squads:
These strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities for allegedly treating insurgent fighters. Civilian casualties from these raids and air operations have dramatically increased in the last two years.
In a statement, HRW associate Asia director Patricia Grossman—who was the report’s lead author—said that the CIA, through backing the militant groups, had “consigned entire communities to the terror of abusive night raids and indiscriminate airstrikes.”
“These are not isolated cases but illustrative of a larger pattern of serious laws-of-war violations—and even war crimes—by these paramilitary forces,” Grossman added.