Report — From the September 2014 issue

Kandahar’s Mystery Executions

Are the Afghan police using torture to achieve peace?

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The first bodies were found early in the morning, after the call to prayer, in the tall reeds abutting the southern edge of Kandahar city. One was lying faceup, lower lip split, stab wounds to the face and stomach, a hole where the left eye had been. The second, a few yards away, had brown-black mottled skin and burnt hair. The third body’s neck was partially sawed through, and the face bore the same pattern of black scarring and singed hair. All three were handcuffed.

The next day, in Subdistrict 7, a working-class area to the north of the city, a shopkeeper discovered a corpse in a canal. A report by the United Nations noted: “Head riddled with bullets and was smashed completely.” Two days later, at Mirwais hospital, Kandahar’s main health center, two bodies came in without any visible marks except a small hole, apparently made with a drill bit, in each of the skulls.

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’s article “Welcome to Free Syria” appeared in the August 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine. His book No Good Men Among the Living was published in April by Metropolitan.

More from Anand Gopal:

Commentary September 14, 2012, 10:27 pm

Syria’s Summer of Stalemate

Commentary August 8, 2012, 10:21 am

Decoding the Syrian Propaganda War

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  • constitutionalive

    ISIS et co. are smarter yet than A-Q, their chief competitor; they compete in the arab world for control & power, using Fundamentalism & Nationalism as a tool to assert uber-domination. They seek to be a ruling elite. The mini-’holocausts’ they systematically execute are beyond ethnic cleansing; they are more akin to Nazi-party purges to assert absolute control and domination. The horrors at the ground level are insignificant to the ISIS leaders who ride the coattails of revenge/vengeance for the abuses and corruptions of governments who do not respect/uphold Human rights and who neglect, mismanage or defraud Development programmes while selling un-sustainability to the highest bidder among Industry & R&D monied interests. Perhaps a human tragedy here or there resulting from unethical corporate activities leaving a toxic good-bye present as they make a quick exit lest they be held legally/financially/politically culpable. Then there are the natural environmental negative impacts such as drought or floods, which preempt planting crops or destroy what was budding forth. Politics and Finance/Economics in countries where HR/Democracy/Justice/Development/Sustainability/Resilience [Resurrgence Ecology] are the enemies of stabillity and peace and the abhorrent bad bad neighbours from which their collateral damage pours forth on all around, and barely-alive Refugees limp forth seeking a breath, a crust, and a sip of water, a bit of humanitarian compassion, and if fortunate, the healing hands of caring medical professional volunteers, as they struggle for a place to stand and struggle to survive. Billions of dollars are expended to preempt such disasters with food aid and democracy supports; but, such efforts are uncoordinated and unevenly focused, due to underfunding and lack of a strategic plan written too systematically get all the jobs needed done in appropriate order to be effective and successful. Corruption takes a bite out of aid and development as well, further eroding timely success. As socioeconomic and geopolitical interests clash, Conflicts arise and spill over throughout a region, thriving on criminal activities of town-by-town murders, rapes, theft, as they travel and battling any armed groups for weapons as they pillage. Armed Conflicts then cause displacement migrations of those fleeing ahead of the terror and slaughters. Development ravaged for terror group campaign supplies are abandoned, agricultural essentials wilt & rot, animals killed or left to die. Simultaneously, Billions are spent on weapons, guns, and military paraphernalia; weapons to fight the travelling terror, weapons to quell the related uprisings, guns to fight, guns to control, guns to deter, …and the terror campaign targets that deterrence as they march on, battling any law enforcement, collecting a superfluous gun hoard, which is excess baggage to a ‘terrorist on the move’ but as expendables they are trade-for-cash with other terrorists/criminal interests. Thus, a post-development-failure terror campaign is a self-sustaining-traveling-machine, a “society-eater”, so to speak. However, the manufacturers, suppliers, dealers of the international illegal arms trade thrive, and paramilitaries flourish. Guns beget Conflict, Conflict begets more and better gunds and paraphernalia, …and soon, genocide, rape, orphans, refugees, humanitarian disaster, …war ["conflict Resolution" not being a standard protocol but an afterthought, there are no standing pre-prepared, pre-solved, plans which could be readily deployed at the first indication of trouble; procrastination due to lack of desire to 'get involved' because getting involved costs money. Ironically, the costs of properly funded development and involvement/conflict resolution up front in a timely way is exponentially smaller than the costs of waiting until the trouble overflows into other societies and is a major economic disruption force for ill.]. Weapons proliferation becomes a global problem very quickly in any conflict because along with crime, illegal arms trade, comes the dangers of escalation and wmd including chemical, and bbiological, and nuclear weapons, and the global endangerment of their storage, transport and deployment.
    All of the aforementioned being said, one would expect that funding the appropriate programmes, preemptions, including the UN, would go without question or argument.

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