To create the impression that America's military strategy in Afghanistan is both efficient and successful, General David Petraeus and US military commanders deliberately lied to the press, leading them to believe that controversial night-time raids by Special Forces (SOF) resulted in the capture of thousands of Taliban when, in fact, more than 90% of those detained were innocent civilians.
The discovery was made by veteran American investigative journalist Gareth Porter - renowned for his reporting of the Vietnam War and a long-standing analyst with Inter Press Service (IPS) -who came into possession of unclassified military documents.
Said documents belonged to Task Force 435, the military command responsible for detainee affairs, and show that only a tiny percentage of the Afghani detained by the US Special Forces were actually AGF (Anti-government Forces), as the Taliban are known in military parlance. Last December, General Petraeus announced to the media that 4,100 "Taliban" rank and file had been captured in the second half of 2010, neglecting, however, to mention that 3,410 of those were released within a few days as they were found to be civilians. A further 345 were later released from the Bagram military prison on review of their cases because of a complete lack of evidence of any "militancy" on their part. According to Porter's analysis of the graph in his possession, just 8.4% of the "Taliban" Petraeus claims to have captured were actually members of AGF. The others were all completely innocent civilians with nothing whatsoever to do with the guerrillas, arbitrarily subjected to weeks of imprisonment and severe interrogation.
Who knows how many of those individuals, having been traumatised by this undeserved treatment and perhaps fired by a desire for revenge, later went on take up arms with the Taliban? Perhaps having witnessed the deaths of some of their own family members during the raids in which they were taken prisoner. At the same press conference last December, General Petraeus also mentioned that approximately 2,000 "Taliban" had been killed in the Special Forces raids. In the light of the above finds, this now begs the important question of how many of those too were simply innocent civilians.
Translated by Mary Hegarty