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14 May, 2013 03:00

Afghanistan demands arrest of ‘American’ death squad leader

Afghanistan demands arrest of ‘American’ death squad leader

The US and Afghanistan are at loggerheads again after new accusations that an American citizen has ‘disappeared’ fifteen people in the province of Wardak, where continued NATO presence has been hotly opposed. Washington has denied any involvement.

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.