Could Night Raids Return to Afghanistan?

Share:

November 24, 2014

Afghanistan’s government, under the new leadership of President Ashraf Ghani, has lifted a ban on night raids imposed by his predecessor, according to The New York Times.

The raids, a controversial tool in the fight against the Taliban, are meant to target insurgents and high-level leadership, but they were effectively brought to end by Afghanistan’s former president, Hamid Karzai. As The New York Times reported Sunday:

Afghan National Army Special Forces units are planning to resume the raids in 2015, and in some cases the raids will include members of American Special Operations units in an advisory role, according to Afghan military officials as well as officials with the American-led military coalition.

U.S. troops will continue to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces, according to the report, possibly providing functions such as air support, intelligence, transportation and communications.

In the 2011 investigation Kill/Capture, FRONTLINE reported that “botched raids and harrowing accounts from Afghan citizens have sparked protests and raised serious questions about whether the raids are alienating the local population in ways that fuel the insurgency.”

“These people come in the middle of the night,” one Afghan local told FRONTLINE. “They break into houses. They bring dogs with them. They drag women out of the house. This is an offense to Islam.”

Another said, “If the Taliban were hiding in my house, I wouldn’t tell you. They don’t dishonor our women, but your friends do.”

Watch Kill/Capture:

Karzai repeatedly called for an end to night raids, saying in November 2011, “All night raids and searches of Afghan homes should stop immediately.” That same year, two Kandahar-based researchers compiled a report [PDF] based on coalition press releases, which recorded 3,873 individuals killed and 7,146 detained between Dec. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2011.

In 2013, as Afghan tribal leaders were meeting to consider a bilateral security agreement, President Barack Obama wrote to Karzai saying, “U.S. forces shall not enter Afghan homes for the purposes of military operations, except under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals.”

The resumption of night raids comes amid an uptick in Taliban attacks in recent months; a suicide bomber killed 45 people at a volleyball match over the weekend — the deadliest such attack since Ghani took office.

Afghanistan’s new government has been more cooperative with the United States, with Ghani signing two security agreements that would keep U.S. troops in the country as soon he took office at the end of September.

“They have a new president now that embraces the international community, that doesn’t lambaste you but says: ‘We are very thankful for your sacrifices. We are very thankful for what you helped provide for Afghanistan,'” U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, who commands U.S.-led coalition forces in the country, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “That’s a huge difference.”


Priyanka Boghani

Priyanka Boghani, Digital Reporter & Producer, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@priyankaboghani

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Minneapolis drug case falls apart, raising questions about existence of secret informant
The case exposes the inherent conflict at the heart of confidential informants as a tool in American policing. In order to be effective, informants must be shrouded in secrecy. But that secrecy can make it impossible to tell how effective informants really are.
May 15, 2021
Derek Chauvin, three other ex-Minneapolis officers indicted by Justice Department on civil rights charges in killing of George Floyd
A federal grand jury has indicted four ex-Minneapolis police officers on charges of abusing their positions of authority to detain George Floyd, leading to his death last May.
May 7, 2021
FRONTLINE Earns Five Peabody Awards Nominations
Five FRONTLINE documentaries have been named 2021 George Foster Peabody Award finalists.
May 4, 2021
‘Escaping Eritrea’ Filmmaker Evan Williams Describes ‘Phenomenal Sacrifice’ of Eritreans Sneaking Footage Out of Country
'Escaping Eritrea' producer Evan Williams set out to learn what was driving so many Eritreans from their homeland. He found answers — as well as people trying to smuggle secret footage out of the country.
May 4, 2021