tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera April 10, 2016 7:30am-8:01am EDT
change people's perceptions. >> reporter: i'm going home now to put my feet up there's plenty more news on our website. aljazeera.com. the latest of all the stories and analysis and features. >> on august 3rd 2014 us and afghan special operations forces deployed to charkh district about sixty miles south of kabul to clear taliban from the area. there's nothing unusual about this. us special operations forces often accompany afghan soldiers on these sorts of missions. i was in afghanistan at the time of the operation.
a source called me to tell me that soldiers had beaten a man to death. he also told me it was too dangerous to go to charkh, so i drove as close as i could - to the provincial capital. this is the video i shot just days after the operation. >> at first it seemed like another footnote in the war. but after i returned home to copenhagen, more details began to emerge from my contacts in charkh. then six months later the un
came out with its 2014 report citing civilian casualties. i found a short reference to the operation in it. >> the operation resulted in 28 civilian casualties (15 deaths and 13 injured). >> fifteen dead. how could fifteen civilian deaths from a joint us and afghan military operation go by almost unnoticed to the outside world? the report said that the international and afghan security forces denied civilian casualties. i knew i needed to go back to afghanistan if i'd any chance of finding out the truth.
in 2009, eight years into the war in afghanistan, the united nations started trying to systematically document civilian casualties. 2014 marked the deadliest year on record. i was back in afghanistan to piece together what i could about the fifteen civilians who were killed on august 3rd 2014. i'd been given photographs of some of the people who died. one of those is farid mohammad, a driver with four children. his mother had been with him on the morning of the operation. it was still too dangerous for me to go to charkh, so she came to meet me on the outskirts of kabul. it is extremely rare for a rural pashtun woman to meet with a man
with out science every day, we can save species. >> i'm walking you guys! >> all i wanted to see was her walk. it was amazing. >> these were emotions that i had been dreaming about for so long. >> getting to the heart of the matter. proud to tell your stories. al jazeera america. >> while reporting this story, i interviewed over thirty eyewitnesses and family members of civilians who had been killed during the military operation. but i wanted to find out more about who was responsible. i scheduled an interview with the united nations office that had published the brief report about the deaths. but just a few hours before we were due to meet they pulled out. they told me that they stood by
their findings, but wouldn't give me an on camera interview. i was bitterly disappointed. i was able to track down a journalist who told me that then president karzai had sent an envoy to investigate the civilian deaths. >> so this guy is the investigator? >> the presidential envoy promised that the civilian deaths would be looked into thoroughly. >> but the family members i spoke to told me that the promises made at the meeting were not kept. i tried to reach the presidential envoy several times. he didn't return my calls.
but there was one official investigation that did take place. it happened not because of any official process, but simply because of the tenacity of one man: mohammad khan, an engineer from charkh. his brother mohammad razeq was killed during the operation and mohammad khan was determined to get justice for his death.
>> on the morning of the operation, mohammad khan said charkh seemed quiet. there were military aircraft flying above at a high altitude, but he said that was normal. mohammad khan said that he and his brother mohammad razeq were out driving when they saw three women crying on the side of the road beside an injured man. khan would later find out that the injured man was a member of the taliban. mohammad razeq got out to see what was going on, then they were suddenly surrounded by afghan special forces.
>> how come it is not possible for your father to talk to us about it? >> mansoor told me that during the night afghan soldiers came into his house and occupied it. >> the soldiers told mansoor that they would hold people in his family's house for questioning. >> mansoor says he saw mohommad razeq and two other men being beaten by afghan soldiers.
can you tell me whether it was the foreign or the afghan forces who were beating razeq? >> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target.
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>> coming up tonight, we'll have the latest... >> does the government give you refugee status? >> they've marched to the border. >> thousands have taken to the streets here in protest. >> this is where gangs bury their members. >> they're tracking climate change. >> i was back in copenhagen, but i couldn't get what the doctor's son had told me out of my head.
a man beaten to death by afghan soldiers with american special operations forces laughing in the background. finally there was a breakthrough. wali mohammad, the military investigator who had looked into mohammad razeq's death, agreed to talk to me on the phone. >> wali mohammad spent a month investigating the case. seven afghan commandos were tried and convicted for their involvement in mohammad razeq's murder, including a company commander who was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
>> according to my sources the us forces on the ground that day were navy seals and an od-a unit of army special forces. the navy seals were deployed to the village where mohammad razeq was beaten to death. i wanted to find out why they hadn't intervened to stop the beating. and what they knew about the fate of the other fourteen civilians who were killed that day. fault lines contacted the us department of defense and the special operations joint task force in afghanistan. they both referred us to natos mission in afghanistan. >> nagieb - resolute support has not received any formal allegation from the governement >> i didn't know exactly
what they meant by "no formal allegations." we followed up and asked them if they'd received any reports of civilian casualties from the august 3rd operation. that was over a month ago. we're still waiting for their answer. i couldn't get any information from the us about their involvement in the operation, but i was able to track down an afghan lieutenant, abdul shafiq, who was a commander on the ground on august third. over the phone, i asked him about the us's role in the operation.
>> but when i asked him about the other fourteen civilians who had died that day, he told me he didn't know anything about them. >> with some afghan officials denying civilian casualties and others breaking their promise to uncover what happened in charkh, and with the us military stonewalling us, it felt like neither the afghans or the us were interested in getting to the truth.
us congressman alan grayson sits on the house foreign affairs committee. he agreed to talk with me over the phone to discuss my findings. >> the un they've reported that there were fifteen civilian deaths in this area according to the sources that we spoke to, the civilians that weren't killed in crossfire. >> you understand that by the time of last summer, generally speaking, the americans weren't involved in any live fire incidents, that they had delegated that to the afghans and as you explained earlier in this call were simply acting as quote advisors. >> i told him about mohammad razeq's case: that us forces were allegedly watching as mohammad razeq was beaten to death, but did not intervene to stop it. >> normally when such an incident occurs there is in fact an investigation by the us military. whoever the witnesses were, were they us forces or otherwise, it's tragic that no one intervened but lets not
equate watching an incident like that with perpetrating it. >> congressman grayson, thank you very much for taking your time to listen. >> what i did find out was that for us forces on the ground in afghanistan there is no legal obligation to intervene. even if a civilian is being tortured and beaten to death in front of them by afghan soldiers. they are, however, supposed to report the crime. the us military wouldn't tell us if even that smallest of obligations was carried out. it seems remarkable that fifteen afghan families can lose loved ones in a joint us-afghan operation and over a year on fourteen remain in the dark as to exactly what happened. nouroz khan still doesn't know
>> this week on "talk to al jazeera", one of the most recognizable singers of a generation - kate pierson of the b-52s. >> (singing the song "love shack"). >> the greatest thing i think a band can do is give people this joy and make them happy and make them dance or sing or just, you know, just kind of give them a joy. >> the group was once given the title "america's favorite party band" by rolling stone, but pierson said beneath the bee-hives, there was a message.