News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terroriraqwar-crimes — Viewing Item

Us war tactics questioned by rights groups { November 24 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Published on Monday, November 24, 2003 by
U.S. War Tactics Questioned by Rights Groups
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - International human rights groups are raising new questions about U.S. counter-insurgency tactics in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter sent to Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld late last week, London-based Amnesty International asked whether the U.S. military has adopted a policy of demolishing houses of the families of suspected insurgents in Iraq.

At the same time, New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR) dispatched a letter to the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, regarding the status of military investigations announced over the past 11 months into the deaths of three suspected Taliban members while they were in U.S. custody.

Both inquiries come amid indications that the U.S. forces in both countries are stepping up counter-insurgency operations, particularly in the so-called Sunni Triangle of central Iraq and the predominantly Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan, where some 10,000 U.S. troops are trying to repel Taliban forces returning from Pakistan two years after being ousted from power in a brief U.S.-led military campaign.

Five U.S. troops were killed and seven more wounded when a helicopter crashed just outside Bagram Air Base near Kabul Sunday, although the causes of the crash have not yet been determined. At least two more were badly were injured when their humvee hit a land mind close to the border with Pakistan.

Ten U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat in Afghanistan so far this year, a fraction of the 300 killed in combat in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion there in late March. But Washington is increasingly concerned about the Talibans growing presence in an increasing number of provinces, particularly amid preparations for elections next year.

Similarly, in Iraq, the spread of violent resistance to the U.S. occupation from the Sunni Triangle northwards to Mosul, where two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday, as well as its increased intensity and sophistication, was apparently behind the decision by the Pentagon earlier this month to pursue a counter-insurgency war more aggressively than in the past.

In the past two weeks, U.S. forces have used a number of new tactics, including the bombing by warplanes and attack helicopters of suspected guerrilla hideouts and supply depots. The tactics appear designed primarily to intimidate resistance fighters, in part by taking the war to them, rather than adopting a more defensive posture.

It is in that context that Amnesty is asking that the Pentagon respond to reports that its forces have demolished a number of Iraqi homes in recent weeks.

The U.S. government should clarify whether it has officially permitted house demolitions as a form of collective punishment or deterrence, the group said in its letter. If such proved to be the case, it would constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

Amnesty said it has received reports that on November 10 U.S. soldiers arrived at the farmhouse of the Najim family near the town of al-Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, and ordered all the residents to leave. Later that day, two F-16 warplanes reportedly bombed and destroyed the house.

As reported by witnesses and the media, the operation was apparently carried out in retaliation for an attack a few days earlier by armed Iraqi groups against a U.S. convoy that resulted in the death of an officer.

The next day, U.S. soldiers arrested six men outside the Najim house after weapons were found inside a truck parked there. More weapons and ammunition were reported to have been found when the house was searched.

It seems that the destruction of the Najim family house was carried out as collective punishment and not for absolute military necessity'," said Amnesty, quoting a provision in the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines the only basis upon which an occupying power is permitted to destroy property.

Amnesty said it had learned that at least 15 houses have been destroyed by U.S. forces since November 16 in or near Tikrit alone. In one case, in the village of al-Haweda, a family was given five minutes to evacuate their house before it was razed to the ground by tanks and helicopter fire.

In another case, according to Amnesty, two men, four children and two babies were said to have been left in freezing night temperatures in the back of a truck before their house was demolished.

A U.S. military official with the 82nd Airborne Division, Maj. Lou Zeisman, was quoted in media reports as saying: If you shot at an American or Coalition force member, you are going to be killed or you are going to be captured, and if we trace somebody back to a specific safe house, we are going to destroy that facility. We didn't destroy a house just because we were angry that someone was killed; we did it because the people there were linked to the attack, and we are not going to tolerate it anymore

House demolition has evoked considerable controversy over the years due to its use by Israeli occupation forces against the homes of suspected Palestinian insurgents. Israeli officials are reported to have briefed U.S. officers at length on the tactics they have used against the Palestinian resistance.

Iraqis themselves appear to be aware that the Pentagon may be applying the same tactics. The Americans want to follow the Israeli plan, one elderly resident in a village near Tikrit told the Washington Post. It doesn't work there. Why will it work here?

Indeed, some analysts have warned that the more-aggressive U.S. counter-insurgency tactics of the past several weeks risked provoking greater resistance as well. Dr. Wamid Nadmi, a professor of political science at Baghdad University, told Knight-Ridder this weekend, that while the escalation may catch more insurgents, the other side is this will increase the people's rage against the Americans, especially those people whose homes are being destroyed or family members are being killed."

Amnesty called on Rumsfeld to immediately rescind any policy of unlawful destruction of property and collective punishment, and to offer compensation to all families whose houses have been destroyed due to suspicion of a family members ties to the insurgency.

For its part, LCHR noted the deaths in custody at Bagram Airbase last December of two Afghan adults known as Mullah Habibullah and Dilawar, who were reported to have suffered blunt force injuries and whose deaths were classified as homicides.

In March 2003, Lt. Gen. Daniel McNeill ordered a criminal investigation. A similar investigation was announced regarding the death at a U.S. holding facility near Asadabad of another Afghan, known as Walli, last June. The BBC quoted sources suggesting that Walli had been tortured during interrogation.

On June 26, President George W. Bush said the U.S. would not tolerate torture or cruel and unusual punishment of detainees, and the Pentagons General Counsel stated at the time that anyone found to have broken the law in relation to the deaths of the three men would be prosecuted.

Despite world-wide concern, to our knowledge no further information has been made public about the status of the investigations into these three cases, LCHR wrote in its letter asking Gen. Vines to respond to a series of questions regarding the investigations and their progress.

The investigations were announced amid press reports that U.S. captives were often softened up by U.S. soldiers before interrogation on detainees deemed uncooperative.

LCHRs letter also comes amid growing controversy over disciplinary action taken by the Army against Lt. Col. Allen West, who has admitted to firing his pistol over the shoulder of a detainee during interrogation to elicit information about planned ambushes against U.S. soldiers. The Army has reportedly threatened West with criminal prosecution.

Copyright 2003

11 american soldiers charged with abuse { July 16 2005 }
American pilots shooting unarmed civilians
Americans use wmds on falluja { November 8 2005 }
Army guard unit exorted shop keepers { July 27 2005 }
Army looting iraqi civilians { May 31 2004 }
Assault on fallujah most ferocious since vietnam
Baghdad bombing kills 34 children { September 30 2004 }
British also used white phosphorus
British contractors shoot at iraqi civilians { December 9 2005 }
Brits use drills in torture of iraqi prisoners { November 20 2005 }
Bush signed order to suspend geneva conventions { June 23 2004 }
Camera spattered with journalists blood { September 13 2004 }
Colonel staged mock execution scare iraqi { November 19 2003 }
Daily mirror apologizes for phony photos
Detainees beaten with baseball bat { September 24 2005 }
Detainees killed prisoners by assault
Detainees medical files shared { June 10 2004 }
Documents show army seized wives as tactic
Eight marines charged iraq death { October 18 2003 }
Eight marines investigation mistreatment prisoners { October 18 2003 }
Ex marines claim fraud and excessive force { April 2008 }
Fbi agents allege abuse of detainees { December 21 2004 }
Five soldiers charged for punching kicking detainees
Former iraqi detainees allege torture
Four soldiers charged in drowning death { July 2 2004 }
Four soldiers charged in iraqi generals murder
GI gets 100 years for iraqi rape murder
Hearing begins for marine accused of killing 2 iraqis { April 27 2005 }
Homocide charges for US troops in iraq rare { August 28 2006 }
Iraq arrests and detentions technically illegal { December 1 2004 }
Iraq probes US phosphorus weapons in falluja { November 16 2005 }
Iraq rights abuse worse than under saddam { November 28 2005 }
Iraq wedding film challenges US on air strike { May 24 2004 }
Iraqi beaten to death by us troops { April 14 2004 }
Iraqi civilians gen franks war crimes { April 28 2003 }
Iraqi details harsh treatment
Iraqi pows gagged bound beaten { May 25 2003 }
Iraqis accuse marines in april killing { June 5 2006 }
Iraqis say troops massacred families { March 21 2006 }
Israeli link possible in US torture techniques { May 11 2004 }
Journalists berates trigger happy troops { June 5 2003 }
Kill as many as possible
Lawyers decided bans on torture didnt bind bush { June 8 2004 }
Marine brags about war crimes { May 1 2003 }
Marine shoots unarmed wounded iraqi
Marine shot innocent iraqi in head 3 times { February 27 2007 }
Marine shot prisoner in head
Marine unit killed 30 unarmed civilians { December 8 2004 }
Marines accused of murdering iraqi farmer
Marines forced to kill innocent civilians { May 16 2004 }
Marines kill iraqi civilians in cold blood { April 2006 }
Marines planted evidence after killing { June 6 2006 }
Military coversup detainee homocide
Military probes death of wounded iraqi in fallujah
Nbc staff abused by US troops in iraq
New FBI files describe abuse of iraq inmates { December 21 2004 }
News staff forced to insert finger in anus by US forces
Officer in iraq fined harsh interrogation tactics
Over 100 child prisoners held in iraq { August 1 2004 }
Pentagon acknowledges uses incendiary white phosphorus
Records show marines tortured iraqi prisoners
Rifle shovel were planted by marines after killing
Rumsfeld admits holding ghost detainees in iraq
Sergeant refused to break law { May 20 2004 }
Shame of abuse of brit troops
Soldier admits murdering iraqi detainee
Soldier convinced of killing iraqi walks free
Soldier convincted of murdering unarmed iraqis
Soldier guilty of killing wounded iraqi teenager
Soldier kidnapping retaliation for 14yr olds rape { May 15 2007 }
Soldier kills protester { January 14 2004 }
Soldier kills woman with bread and tea { September 2 2004 }
Soldier reports prisoner beating to senate mccain { October 5 2005 }
Soldier took torture snaps
Soldiers charges with murdering iraqis
Soldiers fired on wedding during massacre { May 21 2004 }
Soldiers forced iraqis off bridge told to cover up { July 30 2004 }
Soldiers sent fleeing civilians back into fallujah { November 13 2004 }
Soldiers used unauthorized deadly force in iraq { July 28 2005 }
Solider charged with raping iraqi woman { July 4 2006 }
Solider investigated for shooting iraqi { March 4 2004 }
Solider ordered to shoot unarmed iraqi { September 27 2007 }
Solider shot 17 year old iraqi after sex
Solider shot unarmed iraqi to put out of misery { March 31 2005 }
Some marines linked to abuses { December 15 2004 }
Three civilians mistakenly killed in iraq { November 21 2005 }
Top pentagon officials aware of detainee abuse { June 18 2007 }
Troops brutalisation of reuters staff { January 14 2004 }
Troops shot dead women and children for revenge
Two journalists killed in fighting
UN says coalition troops violated rights in iraq { June 4 2004 }
US considers salvador option to tackle iraq { January 10 2005 }
US denies incendiary weapons on civilians
US guards shoot dead 4 in iraq prisons
US kills arab reporter on air { September 13 2004 }
US soldiers kill little girls in iraq fight { October 2006 }
Us soldiers shoots kills two iraqi journalists { March 29 2004 }
US soliders killed family and raped iraqi woman
US still uncovering iraq abuses { July 15 2004 }
Us tank crushes cleric { December 9 2003 }
US torture in iraq spread to mosul
Us troops beat iranian journalists
Us troops shot dead us funded arabic journalists { April 19 2004 }
Us war tactics questioned by rights groups { November 24 2003 }
Video shows brits brutally attacking iraqi teens { February 13 2006 }
War crimes evidence
Wedding video contradicts US details { May 24 2004 }
Whistleblower sent to psychiatrist { March 5 2005 }
White phosphorous usage is war crime { November 22 2005 }

Files Listed: 109


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple