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Afghan parliamentary team says many Americans were involved in massacre in which army accuses one

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Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, suspected in the shooting of 16 civilians in Afghanistan NBC NEWS

The US soldier allegedly responsible for the massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan  has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Bales, 38, was deployed to Afghanistan in December with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., the officials said.

Bales, a native of Ohio, has been based at Lewis-McChord his entire career. He and his family reportedly lived not too far from the base and have family roots in western Washington. Bales’ wife is said to be an executive at a Seattle-area company.

Brown said the suspect’s family will remain on base for the foreseeable future for their own protection. Bales was reportedly en route to the United States on Friday.

He has two children.

Directly after the incident, Reuters reported multiple witnesses claimed multiple soldiers were present at the scenes and carried out the crime. The acclaimed Pajhwok Afghan News (initially funded by USAID, its co-founder Farida Nekzad, won the 2008 International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award) is reporting,  Up to 20 US troops executed Panjwai massacre: probe :

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.

The probing delegation includes [several members of the National Assembly of Afghanistan] lawmakers Hamidzai Lali, Abdul Rahim Ayubi, Shakiba Hashimi, Syed Mohammad Akhund and Bismillah Afghanmal, all representing Kandahar province at the Wolesi Jirga and Abdul Latif Padram, a lawmaker from northern Badakhshan province, Mirbat Mangal, Khost province, Muhammad Sarwar Usmani, Farah province.

The team spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences at the site in Panjwai district.

Hamizai Lali told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.

“We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” he said.

He added the attack lasted one hour involving two groups of American soldiers in the middle of the night on Sunday.

This report should surprise no one following bulletins from Afghanistan over the last few days. Locals have insisted all along there were multiple soldiers involved, and the anger has spread since the attack. Militants launched an attack on a government delegation visiting Panjwai on Tuesday when two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers and several top security officials were visiting. Effigies of Obama were burned, one Afghan soldier was killed as well as three militants. On the same day in the city of Jalalabad 600 students took to the streets condemning the Kandahar slaughter and chanting “Death to America! Death to Obama!

The Taliban has announced they have called off ‘peace talks‘. They have suspended all dialogue with Americans. Thursday President Karzai told the US it must pull back its troops from village areas and allow Afghan forces to take the lead in security. Yesterday the BBC reported that Karzai accused the US of not fully co-operating with a probe into the killings.

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The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary:’Effigies of Obama were burned’


A member of the delegation, Abdul Rahim Ayubi, told AP the governor was trying to explain to locals that the shooting was an isolated incident.

“But the people were just shouting and they were very angry. They didn’t listen to the governor. They accused him of defending the Americans instead of defending the Kandahari people,” Mr Ayubi said.

Anti-US sentiment is already high in Afghanistan after soldiers burned some copies of the Koran at a Nato base in Kabul last month, sparking deadly riots across the country.

The Taliban has renewed threats of revenge attacks, saying it would behead “sadistic” American soldiers.

It sounds like the people of Afghanistan are fed up and not backing down.

Lali asked the Afghan government, the United Nations and the international community to ensure the perpetrators were punished in Afghanistan.

He expressed his anger that the US soldier, the prime suspect in the shooting, had been flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait.

He said the people they met had warned if the responsible troops were not punished, they would launch a movement against Afghans who had agreed to foreign troops’ presence in Afghanistan under the first Bonn conference in 2001.

The lawmaker said the Wolesi Jirga would not sit silent until the killers were prosecuted in Afghanistan. “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians,” Lali warned.

Nothing about the Afghan parliamentary probe in the US media. No surprise here.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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46 Responses

  1. annie on March 17, 2012, 5:52 pm

    here is another reuters report about multiple soldiers re the slaughter:

    Father at window shot in face, Afghan witness says

    Agha, 20, said American soldiers who had opened fire in the early hours entered the family home and waited in silence for what seemed an eternity. He lay on the floor, pretending to be dead.

    “The Americans stayed in our house for a while. I was very scared,” he told Reuters.

    “My mother was shot in her eye and her face. She was unrecognisable. My brother was shot in the head and chest and my sister was killed, too.”

    Agha’s account of multiple American soldiers shooting villagers could not be immediately verified.

    published Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:35pm GMT

  2. on March 17, 2012, 5:56 pm

    Team USA could use a little help from Iran to ease this situation.

    OK if we ask them, Bibi??? Plleeeeassse??

    • annie on March 17, 2012, 6:23 pm

      huh? in afghanistan? we should get out of there. overall i don’t think the locals are appreciating our efforts.

      • on March 17, 2012, 10:12 pm

        Yes, Iran could help US exit Afghanistan. Iran helped US in initial phases of presence there.

        understatement much? — ” overall i don’t think the locals are appreciating our efforts”.

        If I were Afghani I would be beyond outrage. Yes, US should be out. Now.

  3. friendofpalestine on March 17, 2012, 7:07 pm

    How can the US authorities say there was only one killer? They weren’t there! How about listening only to the witnesses who were actually there? Isn’t that what normally happens?

    • on March 17, 2012, 10:15 pm

      the first thing Afghanis said is, We want to try these perps by our laws.

      first thing US did was spirit away (supposedly) one soldier to the safety of a brig in Kansas.

      somehow I don’t think we are getting the whole story.

      • annie on March 17, 2012, 11:16 pm

        gee ya think. it’s a total black out in the msm. the afghan people are nothing, we’ve completely disappeared them from the american discourse.

      • CigarGod on March 18, 2012, 12:08 pm

        Maybe that soldier is being isolated…because he wants to tell the truth.

      • lobewyper on March 18, 2012, 5:44 pm


        I think you’re on the right track. He is an older and more experienced soldier who should have known better, and perhaps decided to shoulder all the guilt for not having kept this massacre from happening. But I don’t think the ballistics evidence is going confirm his story.

  4. pabelmont on March 17, 2012, 7:10 pm

    If we backed out of Afghanistan, how’d we pursue the GWOT? What’d we do with all those drones? How’d we keep the BIG-ARMS and BIG-WAR oligarchs replete with ill-gotten gains (yes, Virginia, we have war-lords here, too). How’d we keep the Muslims and Arabs angry enough with us for them to keep on keeping on with anti-Americanism? And if they stopped that, where would the terrorism come from? Latin America?

  5. marc b. on March 17, 2012, 8:04 pm

    this type of ‘indiscriminate’ killing is a staple of drug wars. similar horrors occur in juarez and elsewhere in mexico, with the mass murder of teens, club goers, family members. billions of dollars of ‘product’ being moved. this is one of the unspoken subtexts of the war.

  6. annie on March 17, 2012, 8:20 pm

    this is interesting

    In its weekly analysis the well plugged in Swoop says about U.S. plans in Afghanistan:

    Top US policy makers are coming to grips with the realization that the assumptions on which the ISAF’s exit from Afghanistan were based are unlikely to be fulfilled. Pentagon contacts tell us that behind Defense Secretary Panetta’s hurried visit to the country following the killings of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier lies a deep debate in Washington about the timelines of the mission. Officials had hoped that at the forthcoming May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago it would be possible to announce a credible strategy for the Afghan endgame. They are now increasingly gloomy that this and that, instead, an accelerated withdrawal will take place, with few guarantees of continuing stability inside Afghanistan. One senior Pentagon officer put it to us this way: “We are revisiting the Soviet nightmare.” For President Obama, the Afghanistan confusion seems unlikely to damage him politically. With the Republican presidential candidates also calling for expedited withdrawal, Afghanistan does not appear likely to feature as a controversial election issue – at least at this juncture.

    • on March 17, 2012, 10:47 pm

      hey annie looks like it will be powers 0..

      • eljay on March 17, 2012, 11:10 pm

        >> … an accelerated withdrawal will take place …

        Gotta get the troops out of Afghanistan and get ’em ready to support the Jewish state’s assault on Iran.

      • annie on March 18, 2012, 12:09 am

        jimmy, i just hope the word gets out.

        eh eljay, let’s hope not. crossing fingers and all that.

      • eljay on March 18, 2012, 8:23 am

        >> eh eljay, let’s hope not. crossing fingers and all that.

        I’m certainly hoping it doesn’t play out that way, but President “Audacity of Hope” Obama doesn’t instill much confidence in me that it won’t.

      • lareineblanche on March 18, 2012, 12:52 pm

        President “Audacity of Hope” Obama doesn’t instill much confidence in me that it won’t.

        With the show he’s put on for us the last three years, “Paucity of Hope” may be more appropriate, no?

    • Pixel on March 18, 2012, 1:00 am

      “forthcoming May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago”

      It was cancelled for Chicago, a week or so ago, and has been moved to Camp David.
      The news reported too many protestors were planning to attend.

      Well, so, I guess the new laws (that eliminated even more civil liberties), which Rahm pushed through specifically for the summit, will be repealed now?

      Not a chance.

    • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 12:22 pm

      annie, btw (although off subect) i want to commend you for your very sensible and humanitarian comment (@ 4:24 pm, march 17) to the now closed mw article “Palestine and Palestine-Solidarity Activists issue Critique & condemnation of Gilad Atzmon” I try to keep an open mind but have to admit that the topic makes me feel that at the same time that I’m engaged in the Palestinian liberation struggle i’m being both whacked and side-tracked by folks who are demanding that i (we) drop everything and get into a heated debate on the subject of identity politics. especially upsetting because i’ve been saying for at 40 or so years that unless us jews play a role in the pro-palestinian/anti-zionist movement, once the public turns against the zionist monster, we’ll be in serious trouble. your saying that defeating zionism is the responsibility of all americans (not only the 2% of us who are jewish) is liberating for me because, among other things, it frees my mind to get back on track. you may be an angel, and a sage too.

      • Danaa on March 18, 2012, 1:50 pm

        yours truly,

        “your saying that defeating zionism is the responsibility of all americans (not only the 2% of us who are jewish) is liberating for me because, among other things, it frees my mind to get back on track. ”

        Only problem is that defeating zionism is not gonna happen without serious Jewish soul searching. Unless the jewish people turn against zionism – and soon – and en mass – there won’t be much in the way of Palestinian people in the West bank to “track”. But hey, keep working on the feel-good things so you can lament the big great bad that America is (the 98%) – right along with the other 1000 or so who want to have a “free mind” and a guilt-free conscience.

        BTW, the fact that the thread was shut down and that there were so many comments on it (and would have been many more) shows what the problem is. Effectively, you and the others who argued as you did without having read much of Atzmon, lost the argument, so it was obviously time to shut down the MW version of Zuccotti Park.

        No wonder that you feel so grateful. there will be many more opportunities to thank your angels when the battle is lost — a few years from now. So keep the Thank You cards handy.

      • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 2:33 pm

        isn’t taking on the jewish establishment (especially the israel firsters) a key effort to turn the jewish people against zionism? that’s doing more than debating jewish political identity, it’s attempting to reshape it. and i don’t agree that all is lost, convinced as i am that we can awaken the public to the realities of the i/p conflict in time to pressure our government in reexamining its unconditional support of israel.

      • Danaa on March 18, 2012, 4:36 pm

        i don’t agree that all is lost, convinced as i am that we can awaken the public to the realities of the i/p conflict in time to pressure our government in reexamining its unconditional support of israel.

        I absolutely don’t wish my words to be construed as discouragement on any level and hope you will continue to battle on any front you care to take on. I have no beef with anyone who is active on any scale, large or small.

        But I have to do my Jeremiah bit in the hope that, like Jonah, I’ll be proven wrong, at which point it’ll be time to go and cavort with whales.

        As I said on that now defunct thread (thanks be to the blog gods for closing that time trap), for me the discussions of Jewish identity and/or Atzmon etc. serve a potentially useful purpose as rallying cries to get more multitudes to pay attention. Perhaps there’ll be some (and I think many) quicker to engage on that front, that could along the way be swayed by the fate of the Palestinians too.

        Personally, I think we need everyone on every front to have an effect on the course of events before it is indeed too late. And along those lines Jeremiahs (and even Cassandras) do have their uses.

      • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 6:01 pm

        as well as in time to prevent an iran war.

      • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 7:50 pm

        if discussions of jewish identity will rally the multitudes to the struggle for justice in palestine and a better world, bring it on. my only reservation is that it be closely “monitored” so as to ensure that it doesn’t degenerate into something that would detract from our common causes.

      • annie on March 18, 2012, 8:00 pm

        i read a lot of that thread and there were some very educational and worthwhile comments coming from all quarters. i’m glad what i wrote resonated with you yourstruly. i didn’t realize the thread had been discontinued but am sure we’ll have other opportunities to discuss it (i hope)..and then some. everybody’s got lots of work to do, so let’s get to it. i definitely think we all (100% of us) need to do as much as we can.

        exposure exposure exposure.

  7. RudyM on March 17, 2012, 11:33 pm

    Here’s one way it could be worse if the official story is false:

    US soldiers were alleged to have sexually assaulted two female victims before they were killed in the Panjwai massacre in southern Kandahar last Sunday, a high-level Afghan probe team revealed.

    The Wolesi Jirga’s, or lower house of Parliament, delegation investigating the Kandahar shootings by US troops said besides killing 16 civilians, the soldiers sexually assaulted them.

    • annie on March 18, 2012, 12:05 am

      thanks rudy, i just saw this other link too, the story is definitely getting out!

      More than one US soldier involved in massacre: Afghan president

      In an emotional meeting with relatives of the shooting victims, President Hamid Karzai said the villagers’ accounts of the massacre were widely different from the scenario depicted by US military officials.

      The relatives and villagers insisted that it was impossible for one gunmen to kill nine children, four men and three women in three houses in two different villages near the US combat outpost in southern Afghanistan.

      On Thursday, Karzai demanded that international forces pull out of rural areas because the fight was not in the villages.

      Afghan officials said Karzai made his request to pull back from the villages now during a meeting on Thursday with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

      US officials said, however, that he did not tell Panetta that it should happen immediately.

      Karzai said President Barack Obama called him Friday morning to ask him about the demand to withdraw from villages.

      “Yesterday, I said clearly that the Americans should leave our villages,” Karzai said. “This morning, Obama called regarding this issue. He asked, ‘Did you announce this?’ I said, “Yes, I announced it.'”

      more at link. maybe if bloggers start writing about this it will penetrate the msm block here.

    • annie on March 18, 2012, 12:09 am

      rudy, could you copy more of that article, there is a subscription block on it. thanks

      • RudyM on March 18, 2012, 1:27 am

        I actually picked it up from here, toward the bottom. I’m not entirely sure why the direct link to the article didn’t work from my post:

        This is the whole article:

        Probe team: Women sexually assaulted before killing in Panjwai
        by Absin ZaheeronMar 17, 2012 – 13:13

        KABUL (PAN): US soldiers were alleged to have sexually assaulted two female victims before they were killed in the Panjwai massacre in southern Kandahar last Sunday, a high-level Afghan probe team revealed.

        The Wolesi Jirga’s, or lower house of Parliament, delegation investigating the Kandahar shootings by US troops said besides killing 16 civilians, the soldiers sexually assaulted them.

        On the ill-fated Sunday, US troops shot 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, and injured five others when they opened fire on houses in Zangabad village, in Panjwai district.

        Some of the victims’ bodies were later set on fire.

        The Wolesi Jirga members jointly probing the Panjwai episode, along with a government team, on Saturday presented their chilling findings to the general session of the Parliament.

        MP Hamidzai Lali, representing Kandahar province and a delegation member, said before the gun attack, US soldiers physically manhandled the two women and later turned their weapons on the helpless residents.

        Shakiba Hashami, another delegation member, confirmed the vicious attack, adding about 15 to 20 American soldiers were involved in the killings and even helicopters were seen hovering the areas.

        Quoting local residents, Hashami, said ahead of the Sunday tragedy, there was a blast in the area and foreign troops had warned of revenge killings.

        The Afghan Parliamentarians strongly condemned the incident and demanded a public trial for the perpetrators.

        US officials had claimed a mentally unstable soldier was responsible for the killings and pledged to put him on trial. Recent media reports said the suspect, in his late 30s, was initially transferred to Kuwait and later flown to the US where he is being interrogated.

        Press TV also has a short article out which mentions the claims of rape.

  8. yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 1:06 am

    the lone killer is a familiar story when american soldiers in occupied lands murder civilians as well as here in the homeland when u.s. leaders are assassinated. the most notorious example of the former are the mai lai massacre (for which 26 soldiers were charged, but only second lieutenant william calley found guilty, sentenced to life in prison but serving only 31/2 years under house arrest), with the latest being last week’s massacre of 16 afghanistani civilians allegedly by army sergean robert bales. the list of american leaders “found” to have been killed by lone killers includes president john f. kennedy, his brother robert kennedy and reverend martin luther king. why so many solo killers? perhaps because if the public can be convinced that there’s a lone “madman”, even if the murder resulted from a well documented conspiracy, the story would have a more difficult time gaining traction than if there had been multiple killers.

    • annie on March 18, 2012, 2:20 am

      yourstruly, the lone killer who’s already in custody by the time the story breaks, especially one with a brain injury, erases any idea the soldiers over their are going collectively crazy or the war is resulting in collective maniacal deadly behavior. we’ve been at war for almost a decade. that enough to see signs of collective degeneration.

      i think what bothers me the most is the erasure of afghan people from the story. aside from the dead, which is acknowledged…the rest of the people are just not mentioned. hardly ever. as if they are savages whose lives do not matter. it’s hideous.

      another thing ot consider is we just had the trial of the haditha slaughter, also kept out of the national news to a large extent. no one was convicted for that slaughter. not one i don’t think.

      • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 9:03 am

        annie, your right about the erasure of the afghan people from the story. the same goes for the absence of the palestinian people from the narrative about the i/p conflict. i wasn’t thinking of collective maniacal deadly behavior (although 20 soldiers running amok hints at this), but that this official lone soldier story, if true, smacks of another mai lai coverup. remember, too, that what’s behind these coverups, other than getting the military high command off the hook, is the fear that revealing the truth to the public could lead to unintended consequences, such as a resurgence of antiwar ferver along with the rebirth of serious antimilitarism.

  9. Pixel on March 18, 2012, 1:07 am

    From a military perspective (March 12) …

    Murder in Afghanistan, the Coverup Begins

    • Pixel on March 18, 2012, 1:12 am

      More than one gunman?

      That was a conspiracy theory, now, it’s “News.”

      • Daniel Rich on March 18, 2012, 3:13 am

        @ Pixel,

        Amongst the interpretations of ‘theory’ you’ll find this one:

        Theory – a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

        Do you agree with the notion that the above doesn’t match with the word ‘conspiracy?’

  10. kalithea on March 18, 2012, 2:27 am

    It was probably code-named: Operation SS

    Ever since the military lied about Tillman’s death; they’ve lost ALL credibility.

  11. Daniel Rich on March 18, 2012, 3:08 am

    Jeff Bridges – ‘Arlington Road.’ –

  12. NickJOCW on March 18, 2012, 5:26 am

    It’s an indication that the whole system over there is disintegrating, morale, discipline, leadership, the lot. They don’t even bother to make their cover story credible, we are asked to believe that not only was this just one man (conveniently filmed giving himself up, weapon to the ground, hands in the air, cool as a cucumber) but he had just returned from killing 16 people, covering their bodies with blankets and setting fire to them. The lot of them were more than likely stoned, which brings one back to a disintegrating system. It is high time US citizens said, Enough is enough.

    • Daniel Rich on March 18, 2012, 9:48 am

      @ NickJOCW,

      Maybe you do not comprehend the full impact of killing people and to be applauded for it. I do condone killing and murder where ever it occurs. Having talked to many veterans has taught me a lot about the idiocy of war and killing.

      Let’s fly the ‘rogue’ flag, so most will be distracted.

      Dan C, American are we a team on this one?

  13. Justice Please on March 18, 2012, 8:48 am

    “Afghan parliamentary team says many Americans were involved in massacre”

    “And who would you believe, them filthy goatherders or your own government, which always told you the truth, especially about Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin, “they took the babies from the incubators”, Iraqi WMDs?”

    – Obama/MSM

    • yourstruly on March 18, 2012, 9:13 am

      the only good injun is a dead injun, the spanish blew up the maine, the gulf of tonkin, the enemy fixed its radar on our planes, which is an act of war; there are no u.s troops on the ground in libya, nor in syria.

      • Justice Please on March 20, 2012, 6:03 am

        And, finally, there never were Israeli spys “documenting the event”, and there never were Israelis in a van filled with explosives on the George Washington Bridge.

  14. lobewyper on March 18, 2012, 9:13 am

    Whether others were involved in the shootings can be determined from analysis of the bullets recovered from the bodies. Every gun leaves unique markings on the bullets it fires.

  15. Saleema on March 18, 2012, 2:05 pm

    This was no deranged soldier who snapped. He was a terrorist, just like Fisk says here:

    Fisk pointed out something which no one else picked up on in the media, that of a plea by the US generals to their soldiers not to take revenge after the killings of two American soldiers. This was motivated murder, a terrorist act. It would have been if it were done by a Muslim, so why don’t we label this bastard the same?

  16. Kathleen on March 18, 2012, 2:55 pm

    It it turns out the US military and the Obama administration have been pushing this one soldiers committed the massacre ends up being a lie…clearly the understandable outrage will only grow. From the “Afghan Massacre Convoy of Death” (at Information Clearing house or Democracy Now) to innocent people being killed by drones, other killings by US soldiers in Afghanistnan( go listen to the Winter Soldier testimonies). Trouble trouble. To think that the people in Afghanistan have been living in an environment of death, destruction and war for 30 some years is horrifying.

  17. on March 18, 2012, 9:06 pm

    In “The Way of the World,” Ron Suskind interviews the head of Britain’s intelligence agency who, at great risk, had developed first-person information that Iraq did not have WMD. He personally presented the information to Condi Rice, who buried it because it interfered with the lies the Bush admin was intent to act upon.

    Then, Cheney’s office contrived a way to blackmail/discredit the eyewitness — a second set of lies.

    Suskind concludes the narrative with the reflection that “when soldiers are lied to by their leaders, history demonstrates that they express the assault on their honor by “storming the castle” and toppling the lying leader.

    Recall that Panetta hotfooted it to Afghanistan immediately after the urinating-on-corpses episode, and he was in front of his troops a day or two ago. It’s essential for Panetta to keep the military pacified and on the side of the president — he’s likely aware of the potential for a military revolt.

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