Afghanistan demands arrest of ‘American’ death squad leader
Afghan officials say that a man by the name of Zakaria
Kandahari, allegedly an ethnic Afghan, but a US citizen, has led a
pro-government death squad that has terrorized locals in Wardak,
New York Times reports. The newspaper says three officials have
confirmed that he is being sought on charges of torture and murder.
A key piece of evidence is a video tape of Kandahari torturing a
local, while speaking English with an American accent.
Over the past year, Kandahari and his soldiers have also been seen throughout the area wearing NATO uniforms while riding on quad bikes in search of alleged insurgents, at least one of whom, Afghans say, has been found dismembered in a garbage container just outside the US base in the province, which is located just to the west of the capital Kabul.
Washington does not deny the existence of the video, but claims Kandahari operates a rogue Afghan unit, and is not a US citizen.
“Everybody in that video is Afghan; there are no American voices,” an unnamed American official told the newspaper.
The official said that Kandahari was an interpreter for a US A-Team, based in the Nerkh district, and “went on the lam” as soon as his extrajudicial anti-Taliban campaign was discovered by the Americans, following a tip from Afghan officials.
“We would have no reason to try to harbor this individual,” said the source. “We have done three investigations down there, and all absolve ISAF [NATO] forces and Special Forces of all wrongdoing.”
Allegations of extrajudicial justice by the US Nerkh-based
Special Forces unit, which consists of a small core of American
commandos aided by local support staff, in the region first
surfaced in February when President Hamid Karzai said that the
mixed teams had unleashed a reign of terror over the locals and
ordered them out of the province.