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Arrest Warrant for US Special Ops, Running Kandahar Outlaw Militia?

Source:, h/t Russ Wellen

The Guardian is reporting that the chief military prosecutor in Kabul is accusing “the US of creating an outlaw militia which allegedly shot dead Matiullah Qateh, the chief of police in the city of Kandahar” and “has issued an arrest warrant for an American special forces commander:”

The militia, which Ranjbar claimed is armed and trained by US special forces, also allegedly killed Kandahar’s head of criminal investigations and two other officers, when they attempted to free one of their members from a courthouse…

Ranjbar said an investigation found that the force that killed Qateh operated from Camp Gecko, in the hills outside Kandahar, a base for both US special forces and the CIA.

Officials in Kandahar said the militia supplies guards and is trained to work alongside special forces and intelligence officials in raids against Taliban targets…

He claimed that suspects arrested for the courthouse raid had confessed to being part of a 300-strong militia unit run by “Johnny”. They said they “could not move a muscle and could not leave their base without Johnny’s orders” Ranjbar said. “He was the head of the group and they [the Americans] were the ones paying them.”

“Johnny” is the only known name of the US Special Ops member who is reported to command this “outlaw milita.”

While a spokesman for the US forces claimed this militia “were not acting on behalf of US or international forces”.

the militia known locally as the “Kandahar Strike Force”, or the “Kandahar Special Group”, arrived at the courthouse last June with US-supplied uniforms, vehicles and weapons. They demanded the release of a comrade held for a traffic offence. When police were called to the scene by terrified court officials, the militia opened fire, killing Qateh, and three other policemen.

And the story gets more complex:

The involvement of the Camp Gecko militia is politically sensitive because of its alleged close ties to Ahmed WaliKarzai, brother of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. Militia members claim to have been recruited by associates of Ahmed Wali, who press reports have claimed is on the CIA payroll.

Interviewed by telephone, Ahmed Wali called for an amnesty for the 41 men convicted of Qateh’s murder, but denied he had any militia connections.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Karzai, was until recently publicly scorned by US leaders but the New York Times reported in October that he was on the CIA payroll – and running operations on their behalf:

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

During a little noticed recent meeting with General Petraeus, Wali Karzai’s ties to the US became even more clear:

On Saturday Wali Karzai held a meeting with the US Central Command commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; the latest in a series of contacts designed to rehabilitate and influence the activities of the chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council.

“The plan is to incorporate him, to shape him. Unless you eliminate him, you have to [do this],” said a senior coalition official involved in planning what is viewed as this summer’s make-or-break military operation in Kandahar. “You can’t ignore him,” he added. “He’s the proverbial 800lb gorilla and he’s in the middle of a lot of rooms. He’s the mafia don, the family fixer, the troubleshooter.”

… the meeting with General Petraeus was described as friendly…

Karzai has been “describe[d] … as running a network of local security companies that act as little more than militia to intimidate rivals.”

Stephen Grey of the UK’s Channel 4 is broadcasting a report tomorrow that sounds like it will further tie together these “militia” with US forces:

Most disturbing was the frequent suggestion that the reason for the power exerted by these groups was their close relationship with both the US military and other parts of the coalition, including intelligence agencies.

Although the US and coalition officially condemn any form of “militias”, insisting they work only with groups that are approved and licensed by the Afghan government, in reality many of the gunmen who “belong” to the powerful warlord clans of the city have been enlisted for help by Nato.

Armed militias may be found as guards at coalition gates or as guards that protect Nato supply convoys, in the guise of interpreters and other staff at coalition bases, and as special units attached to coalition special forces and intelligence teams.

Two powerful warlords, for instance, have seized most of the “government” property in the city used by Nato. One controls construction projects. Another has a powerful influence on who gets employed at the huge Kandahar airbase.

According to those I interviewed, most of the power held by the militia leaders stems not from their links to the Afghan government but from the hundreds of millions of pounds of contracts awarded by the military and Western civilian agencies which these men conspire to monopolise.

The attack for which the warrant has been issued isn’t the first Johnny’s militia is suspected of involvement in:

Local militias have also been linked to a raid on 10 November last year when US and Afghan troops allegedly burst into the home of Janan Abdullah, 23, riddled him with bullets, and left his wife paralysed and the rest of his family traumatised.

“Nothing was left undamaged, they shot at everything,” said one of Janan’s uncles. “He was just lying in bed. I’d say they fired 200 bullets at him.”

The family claimed it was Afghans who did the shooting and stole thousands of pounds in cash. “We were surprised,” said the uncle. “It was our own people – Pashtuns – doing this to us.”

A US military spokesman said they had “no record” of the raid. However, the family were given medical treatment at Camp Gecko, leading to suspicions that it was the same Afghan militia that allegedly killed the police chief.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com