Were U.S. troops in Afghanistan complicit in a massacre?

An Irish documentary filmmaker says he has evidence

they were -- and he's releasing some of his footage to

prevent a coverup.

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By Michelle Goldberg


June 15, 2002 |

Irish documentarian Jamie Doran says he has evidence

of American complicity in a massacre in Afghanistan,

and he's been showing his rough footage to European

leaders in the hope of preventing a coverup.

Doran, who worked at the BBC for more than seven years

and has made documentaries about human rights abuses

throughout the world, screened 20 minutes of his

unfinished feature documentary, "Massacre at Mazar,"

to the European parliament and the German parliament

on Wednesday. After witnessing the screening, Andrew

McEntee, former head of Amnesty International in the

U.K., called for an independent investigation.

Doran has yet to release the footage to the public

because he says his eyewitnesses' identities need to

be obscured for their own protection. But Doran felt

he had to get some of the information out immediately

because the mass graves he secretly filmed are in

danger of being tampered with, which would make an

independent inquiry into his film's allegations of

Northern Alliance and American war crimes impossible.

According to Doran, of the approximately 8,000 Taliban

prisoners taken after the fall of Kunduz in late

November 2001 to Gen. Rashid Dostum, around 5,000 are

unaccounted for. He says he's filmed eyewitnesses

testifying that many of those prisoners suffocated in

the metal containers used to transport them between

Qala-I-Zeini fortress and Sherberghan prison, and that

Northern Alliance troops fired into the containers,

killing and wounding other prisoners. One witness

claims that an American officer ordered the bodies

dumped in the desert of Dasht-I-Leili, and that living

people were taken there as well and executed.

Furthermore, Doran says he has witnesses claiming to

have seen American special-forces soldiers torturing

prisoners who made it to Sherberghan.


?US had role in Taleban prisoner deaths?


ANDREW McLEOD foreign editor

US SOLDIERS took part in the torture of Taleban

prisoners and may have had a role in the

"disappearance" of around 3,000 men in Mazar-i-Sharif

in north-west Afghanistan, according to a new


Massacre at Mazar, by Scots film producer Jamie Doran,

was shown on Wednesday in the Reichstag, the German

parliament building in Berlin and the European

parliament in Strasbourg.

Much of Mr Doran?s footage in the 20-minute preview of

a future full-length documentary film was taken


In one sequence, a witness claims he saw a US soldier

break an Afghan prisoner?s neck and pour acid on


"The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no

power to stop them." Some prisoners were beaten up,

taken outside only to "disappear", the witness said.

Two other witnesses claim they were forced to drive

into the desert with hundreds of Taleban prisoners who

were in containers. The orders came from the local US

commander, they alleged. Prisoners who had not

suffocated to death were then shot dead while 30 to 40

US soldiers stood by watching.

In another sequence, a witness admits to having

executed prisoners, while another Afghan, said to have

been a senior officer under the Northern Alliance?s

General Rashid Dostum, was said to have gone into

hiding following threats to his life.

The screening of the film at the European Parliament

in prompted calls for an international commission to

investigate the charges.

Mr Doran told The Scotsman last night: "I took the

footage to the European parliament because of a phone

call I received from Afghanistan. I have a great fear

that the graves may be tampered with. I had to take it

to the highest level in Europe." He said that after

the screening, MEPs had told him they would approach

the Red Cross to ensure the graves were protected.

Mr Doran said his documentary followed closely the

findings of a new report by the Boston-based

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which had concluded

that there was evidence of the disposal of human

remains at two mass grave sites near Mazar-i-Sharif.

"Physicians for Human Rights tell me that the

interviews we conducted for the documentary were the

missing link they needed," Mr Doran said.

In the documentary, the witnesses says they believe

the bodies at the site found near the village of

Shebarghan included the Taleban prisoners who were

transported to the site in the truck containers.

On its website, PHR calls on Hamid Karzai,

Afghanistan?s new leader, and the international

community to protect the grave sites. It says it

recognises that the government of Afghanistan was not

in a position to secure the sites but that the US,

Britain and other countries had the capacity - and the

responsibility - to ensure that they were protected.

"The examination of bodies and dignified burial of

remains will contribute to the truth and

accountability process, which is essential for future

peace and stability in Afghanistan," PHR said.

Andy McEntee, former chairman of Amnesty

International, who saw the film footage in Berlin and

read the transcript, told DPA news agency that he

believed there there was prima facie evidence of

serious war crimes having been committed by US

soldiers in Afghanistan. Mr McEntee said he believed

the war crimes had been committed not only under

international law but also under US law.

Amnesty International and other human rights

organisations called last year for a public inquiry

into the events at Mazar-i-Sharif after the surrender

of Taleban forces there in late November. Hundreds of

Taleban fighters were killed in what Northern Alliance

forces said was a revolt.

Pictures of aid workers making their way through the

corpses of Taleban prisoners caused international

outrage at the time.

The foreign Taleban fighters, mostly Pakistanis,

Chechens and Arabs, were being held at the Qaila Jangi

fortress outside Mazar-i-Sharif after negotiating a

surrender with Gen Dostum, who had said they would be

allowed to cross the border into Pakistan. Afghans

with the Taleban forces had already been allowed to

return to their home villages.

According to US, British and Northern Alliance

officials, a skirmish within the prison flared into a

battle. Some media reports, however, have questioned

this version of events.

Amnesty says responsibility for an inquiry lies with

the United States and Britain as US and British

special forces helped alliance troops put down the


Andre Brie, a member of the European Parliament for

the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), said he would

back any call for an international commission looking

into the allegations. He said he had supported Mr

Doran financially in what he described as the

producer?s "dangerous film activity".

Excerpts of Mr Doran?s documentary are to be screened

on television in Britain next week.


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