Fast forward to March 11, 2012 and the massacre of 17 civilians, including 9 children. Most accounts of the night raid in Panjwae district of southern Kandahar province identify the killer -- Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, supposedly acting alone -- but fail to identify the victims. Here, thanks to CNN reporter Sara Snider, are their names:
Mohammad Dawood AbdullahKhudaidad Mohmmad JamaNazar Mohammad Taj MohammadPayendoRobinaSahtarina Sultan MohammadZuhra Abdul HameedNazia Doost MohammadMosooma Mohammad WazirFarida Mohammad WazirPalwasha Mohammad WazirNabia Mohammad WazirAsmatullah Mohammad WazirFaizullah Mohammad WazirEsa Mohammad Mohammad HusainAkhtar Mohammad Murad Ali
|Some of those slain, loaded into the back of a truck following their collective punishment.|
Several Afghans near the villages where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians say U.S. troops lined them up against a wall after a roadside bombing and told them that they, and even their children, would pay a price for the attack.
Residents have given similar accounts to both The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials about an alleged bombing in the vicinity, which they said occurred March 7 or 8, and left U.S. troops injured. The residents also said they are convinced that the slayings of the 16 villagers just days later was in retaliation for that bomb.From Bill Rigby of Reuters:
The lawyer defending the U.S. soldier accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians claims U.S. authorities are blocking his ability to investigate the incident.Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS network spoke to survivors in the villages a few days after the attacks. Her video report may be seen here on CNN's website. An eight year old survivor told how her father was shot after trying to defend her mother, who was being dragged by the hair.
John Henry Browne, the lawyer for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, said U.S. forces in Afghanistan have prevented his team from interviewing injured civilians at a hospital in Kandahar, and are allowing other potential witnesses to scatter, making it difficult to track them down.
Naek Mohammad, who lives in Mokhoyan, told the AP that a U.S. soldier, through a translator, said: "I know you are all involved and you support the insurgents. So now, you will pay for it -- and your children will pay for this."Here's another child who was injured but survived:
Hakim's interview of the Afghan Army general investigating the incident turned up reports that villagers heard a helicopter overhead during the shootings, and saw Americans with headlamps standing outside the houses during the shootings.
Will the truth come to light? Not if the moral bankruptcy of male bonding does its job, says blogger Kathleen Barry, author of Unmaking War, Remaking Men. She reports:
President Obama claimed "it appeared you had a lone gunman who acted on his own," not wanting it compared to the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam war.Barry says guys stick together after a violent spree. Here's more from Obama, as reported by Reuters:
"In no way is this representative of the enormous sacrifices that our men and women have made in Afghanistan," Obama said. But he added, "It does signal the importance of us transitioning in accordance with my plans that Afghans are taking more of the initiative in security."A widowed survivor speaking from behind her burka told Hakim she would like to take more initiative. She feels only that she wants to use her bare hands to kill those responsible after watching her husband's murder:
The U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest in our history, with no end in sight.