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BBC: Afghanistan Taliban ‘using human shields’ – general UPDATE: AlJazeera – Human sheilds in Afghanistan

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Submitted by Amir “MR”

Updated: Added article below which offers another perspective on “human shields”. JazakAllah khair for the comments sharing it.

Very sad situation for the people of Afghanistan. I pray to God that the innocent people are spared from this war.

Taliban militants are increasingly using civilians as “human shields” as they battle against a joint Afghan-Nato offensive, an Afghan general has said.

Gen Mohiudin Ghori said his soldiers had seen Taliban fighters placing women and children on the roofs of buildings and firing from behind them.

The joint offensive in southern Helmand province has entered its fifth day.

US Marines fighting to take the Taliban haven of Marjah have had to call in air support as they come under heavy fire.

They have faced sustained machine-gun fire from fighters hiding in bunkers and in buildings including homes and mosques.

Gen Ghori, the senior commander for Afghan troops in the area, accused the Taliban of taking civilians hostage in Marjah and putting them in the line of fire.

“Especially in the south of Marjah, the enemy is fighting from compounds where soldiers can very clearly see women or children on the roof or in a second-floor or third-floor window,” he is quoted by Associated Press as saying.

“They are trying to get us to fire on them and kill the civilians.”

As a result, his forces were having to make the choice either not to return fire, he said, or to advance much more slowly in order to distinguish militants from civilians.

Nato has stressed that the safety of civilians in the areas targeted in the joint Nato and Afghan Operation Moshtarak is its highest priority.

Journalist Jawad Dawari, based in Lashkar Gah, told BBC Pashto that Taliban fighters remained in many residential areas of Marjah and were defending their positions with heavy weapons.

“It is difficult for the Afghan army and Nato to storm Taliban-held areas because to do so may inflict heavy civilian casualties and there are still a lot of civilians in Marjah.

“Whenever they launch an attack, the Taliban take refuge in civilians’ homes.”

He had spoken to many local people in Marjah, he said, and they had all said the Nato offensive had made little progress since the first day.

An Afghan military official had told reporters that the backbone of the resistance came from foreign fighters – Pakistani and Arab – and that it was feared they might resort to suicide attacks, he added.

The most senior US general in the south, Brig Gen Ben Hodges, gave the BBC a more upbeat assessment of Marjah, saying locals were coming out to give information on insurgents now that they were confident the forces involved in Operation Moshtarak were not leaving.

He said Afghan units would be staying for at least 30 days and the Marine battalions “for several months”.

Speaking to the BBC after visiting Marjah, the commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan, Maj Gen Nick Carter, said the situation was dangerous, but that progress was being made.

He told the BBC’s Frank Gardner it could take up to 30 days to clear the insurgents out, depending on when they lost the will to fight.

Troops taking part in the offensive have been having to deal with large numbers of improvised bombs.

American forces have found a so-called “daisy chain” – a long bomb rigged up from mortar bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and a motorbike, our correspondent says.

And British engineers have deployed a device called a “python” – a length of explosives designed to set off mines and clear a safe path through them, he says.

Afghan army chief of staff Besmillah Khan told the AFP news agency the threat from improvised bombs meant gains were coming “slowly”.

Meanwhile, to the north, British forces have discovered an insurgent cache of stolen Afghan army and police uniforms.

The find suggests the Taliban could have been planning attacks disguised as Afghan security personnel, our correspondent says.

Nato says discussions with the local population on how to bring lasting security to the area are continuing, our correspondent adds.

Gen Hodges said several hundred police had been trained and would go into central Helmand once the situation was deemed appropriate.

British and Afghan troops are reported to be advancing more swiftly in the nearby district of Nad Ali than are their US and Afghan counterparts in Marjah.

Missiles ‘on target’

Gen Carter confirmed on Tuesday a missile that struck a house outside Marjah on Sunday killing 12 people, including six children, had hit its intended target.

Gen Carter said the rocket had not malfunctioned and the US system responsible for firing it was back in use. Officials say three Taliban, as well as civilians, were in the house but the Nato soldiers did not know the civilians were there.

Initial Nato reports said the missile had landed about 300m (984ft) off its intended target. Gen Carter blamed these “conflicting” reports on “the fog of war”.

Speaking on Tuesday, Dawud Ahmadi – a spokesman for Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal – said that 1,240 families had been displaced and evacuated from Marjah – and all had received aid in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Operation Moshtarak, meaning “together” in the Dari language, is the biggest coalition attack since the Taliban fell in 2001.

Allied officials have reported only two coalition deaths so far – one American and one Briton killed on Saturday.

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Source: BBC News

Human sheilds in Afghanistan

According to Nato commanders, the Taliban are now using human shields in the ongoing battles around the town of Marja.

I do not doubt the details of the incidents that have been reported. The military on the ground report being fired upon from nearby buildings, and then before they can respond, women and children start to appear in the same area.

These details have also been witnessed by journalists embedded with some of the military units in the area.

The Associated Press quoted Brigadier General Mohiudin Ghori, the brigade commander of Afghan troops in Marjah, as saying: “They are trying to get us to fire on them and kill the civilians.”

There is no doubt that the Taliban are fully aware of the Nato rules of engagement. When General Stanley McChrystal published his tactical directive in July last year, it was covered by most major news organisations.

It called on commanders, “to scrutinize and limit the use of force like close-air support against residential compounds and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties.”

Just before the start of the Marjah offensive, a British commander Brigadier James Cowan told his men to avoid shooting at civilians.

“Defeat the enemy by avoiding civilian casualties. Hold your fire if there is a risk to the innocent, even if this puts you in greater danger. That kind of restraint requires courage – courageous restraint. This you have shown throughout our time in Afghanistan,” he said. These comments were widely reported.

The Taliban know very well that civilian casualties over the last eight and half years have damaged support among the ordinary Afghans both for the Karzai government, and for continued international military involvement.

I do, however, think some care needs to be taken before using the term “human shields”.

The first time I recall the phrase being used was in 1990. I was reporting at the time from Baghdad, and the “human shields” then were those westerners captured, held (and eventually released) by Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait.

This time, though, we are probably not talking about hostages, held against their will, sometimes handcuffed and blindfolded.

Most, but not all, of those fighting for the Taliban in Helmand are locals.

Afghans here tell me that in many cases the women and children in the homes with a Talib fighter are likely to be his own women and children.

What are viewed as “human shields” in the west may be seen very differently by Afghan eyes. Some perhaps would even talk of brave men taking a last stand to protect their women and children from foreign invaders.

Source: AlJazeera

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Who

    February 19, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    MuslimMatters just won’t give up will they? On the one hand they berate the mainstream media for continuously generating lies and propaganda against Muslims, yet when it comes to the mujahideen they immediately gobble up whatever unverified rubbish they have to offer.

    Let me remind MuslimMatters of an ayat of the Quran which I’m sure they’ve used on many occasions with regards to the media, but which they conveniently seem to forget whenever the word ‘Taliban’ is mentioned:

    “O you who believe! If a Faasiq (liar — evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done”
    [al-Hujuraat 49:6]

    And these aren’t even faasiq people we’re talking about, they’re kuffaar, so you can just imagine how we should react to the sort of “news” they provide us.

    Something for MuslimMatters to think about (and most probably just ignore as usual)…

    • MR

      February 19, 2010 at 10:23 AM

      Gen Mohiudin Ghori said his soldiers had seen Taliban fighters placing women and children on the roofs of buildings and firing from behind them.

      It wasn’t an American or British or NATO officer claiming this. It was an Afghani Muslim part of the Afghani army.

      • musa

        February 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM

        Oh yeah, afghan army which is in support of invaders. What is afghan army doing helping foreigners invading their own country?

        • MR

          February 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM

          So are these people liars too? Are they supporting the invaders?
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lph7CbVCZ2k

          • Love Taliban

            February 20, 2010 at 5:31 AM

            That report has nothing to do with this discussion which, may I remind you, concerns the allegation that in Marjah the Taliban are using local people as human shields. The video you linked is about Arbaka, militia in the north who have formed militias after the germans and the afghan army pulled out. This video actually is evidence against you. It features two afghan women who were raped by the very same militias who were supposed to protect them.

            Who is supporting these militias. It rhymes with NATO.

          • MR

            February 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

            @Love Taliban. My point is that there are Afghanis who are fighting the Taliban and they are not part of the invaders. The rape is terrible and justice should be served. I pray to Allah that they receive justice.

            The original poster was claiming that because the Afghanis are part of the Afghani army they are liars. So I provided that youtube link to show Afghanis not part of the Afghan army and not part of the invading forces who are also fighting the Taliban. That was the point of sharing the link.

      • Plum

        February 19, 2010 at 12:31 PM

        MR said:
        “It wasn’t an American or British or NATO officer claiming this. It was an Afghani Muslim part of the Afghani army.”

        What planet are you living on!!!! These are afgan soldiers are fighting on the behalf of Americans and oppose the shariah being implemented. They are killing people who’s only crime is that they want to obey Allah(swt). So, with a resounding “YES”, they are without a shadow of a doubt Fasiq !!!

        If you trust the word of the Afgan Army……well let’s just say there’s a Nigerian Millionaire just waiting for your bank details

        • Dan

          February 19, 2010 at 1:58 PM

          Taliban shariah is not Islamic, get that through your head.

        • MR

          February 19, 2010 at 2:32 PM

          • MR

            February 19, 2010 at 3:10 PM

            More:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCQclFkLiPQ

            One of the afghani’s said “The Taliban don’t let families leave.” Families are trying to leave Marjah because of the war but the Taliban prevent them. SubhanAllah.

            I trust AlJazeera more than any American news media, so I believe this brother in the video. I also believe the sister in the video. May Allah (swt) give them strength and patience during this time.

    • MR

      February 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAG8wzjKURw

      Do you think this guy is a fasiq? kafir? Even though he is an Afghani?

      • Lion

        July 17, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        Afghan doesn’t = Muslim. I’ve heard more lies from the sources they point to than I’ve heard truth, that is enough for you to leave these sources.

  2. Mahmud

    February 19, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    I hope the Muslims are saved from extremists on Muslimmatters as CNN told said that you people are the mentors of many alqaeda operatives.

    • Amad

      February 19, 2010 at 10:08 AM

      can you be a bit more coherent next time… I have no idea what you are trying to say?

  3. Abu Bakr

    February 19, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Very sad situation for the people of Afghanistan. I pray to God that the innocent people are spared from this war.

    Maybe you could also take a practical step by not voting for Obama again, especially considering he made it very clear from the outset it was his intention to expand the war on Afghanistan.

    • Amad

      February 19, 2010 at 10:06 AM

      yes, let’s allow our friendly Republicans take over… everything will be hunky dory after that.

    • MR

      February 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM

      McCain / Palin would have been worse, because Iraq and Afghanistan would see more troops. So basically more troops in Afghanistan is better than more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is unfortunate the policy with Iraq and Afghanistan is for war. InshaAllah there are many organizations campaigning in America trying to get troops to pull out from both countries. All we can do right now is make dua and continue to write and speak out against the wars and support these organizations (both Muslim and non-Muslim). May Allah make it easy for us all.

      • musa

        February 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM

        your country is the one invading.

        • MR

          February 19, 2010 at 2:25 PM

          InshaAllah the war ends and they leave.

      • Abu Bakr

        February 20, 2010 at 4:21 AM

        And from where, pray tell, would they have produced these more troops for Afghanistan and Iraq?

        BTW, Amad, if things are so hunky dory under Obama, why did you leave?

        -Edited. The article linked is already in the comments. Evident that you need to spend some time reading what others are saying first. -Amad

        • Amad

          February 20, 2010 at 4:51 AM

          To think that McCain/Palin (even the thought is scary) would have somehow meant that the Iraq/Afghanistan wars would be in “better shape” is delusional. Offering the vote for Obama as being some sort of reason for the continued wars just means you are running out of ideas. Only Allah knows what would have happened if things were different, but very people in their right mind think that the wacko Republican combo would have offered a better chance for peace.

          As for your last comment, really, why I moved is not your business. People do things for all sorts of reasons in a world that is multi-dimensional (just like the vote for Obama), not black and white as in what you may perceive of it.

          • Abu Bakr

            February 20, 2010 at 8:28 AM

            To think that McCain/Palin (even the thought is scary) would have somehow meant that the Iraq/Afghanistan wars would be in “better shape” is delusional.

            I never suggested it would.

            Offering the vote for Obama as being some sort of reason for the continued wars just means you are running out of ideas.

            I never said it was. My problem is that you lot very vocally have supported and defended Obama from the outset, and continue to do so up until now. If you were voting for him on the grounds that he was the lesser of the two evils, it certainly did not appear that way.

            Only Allah knows what would have happened if things were different, but very people in their right mind think that the wacko Republican combo would have offered a better chance for peace.

            Actually, as I said before on this website, there is no significant difference between Bush/Obama/McCain. Bush was an in-your-face cowboy. Obama is sort of a slick, greasy used-car dealer.

            Personally, I would rather deal with an enemy who is a stupid, blustering idiot like Bush than a slick snake like Obama. Take for example the following:

            http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24674.htm

            Yet a string of recent exposes has shown that Obama is in fact maintaining a battery of secret prisons where people are held without charge indefinitely – and he is even expanding them. The Kabul-based journalist Anand Gopal has written a remarkable expose for The Nation magazine. His story begins in the Afghan village of Zaiwalat at 3.15am on the night of November 19th 2009. A platoon of US soldiers blasted their way into a house in search of Habib ur-Rahman, a young computer programmer and government employee who they had been told by someone, somewhere was a secret Talibanist. His two cousins came out to see what the noise was – and they were shot to death. As the children of the house screamed, Habib was bundled into a helicopter and whisked away. He has never been seen since. His family do not know if he is alive or dead.

            The prison in Guantanamo serves no real purpose other than to draw negative attention to America, and it only houses a fraction of the prisoners that America is taken. It was basically Bush’s way of showing the world ‘the middle finger’. Obama talks of closing Guantanamo so that they can get back to business as usual.

            And this is supposed to be ‘the lesser of two evils.’

        • Abu Bakr

          February 20, 2010 at 8:32 AM

          -Edited. The article linked is already in the comments. Evident that you need to spend some time reading what others are saying first. -Amad</blockquote

          I was responding to you, and not to them… what others have written is not my concern

  4. as-Sahwah

    February 19, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    as-salaamu ‘alaykum,

    The Taliban are Afghan, and thus a resistance movement. The very fact you have reports coming through wherein Afghan Police are leaving the force (which was installed by the US and her allies) and joining the Taliban truly gives you an insight into how things are heading over there.

    The Russians lasted about 25 years, while the American’s close to 8 (thus far). The US economy is falling apart … such measures dictate drastic actions, so killing civilians can be expected. Whether their claims of resistance fighters using civilians as shelter are true or not; matters little at this point. We’ll never forget the carpet bombing of Kabul when they first arrived, perhaps the Afghan people allowing the Taliban to rule over them is enough of a reason to bomb them to smithereens’? After all that was the justification in the 22-day massacre of Gaza.

    • mohammad

      February 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM

      when will the nifaq stop?
      Our brothers, the lions of this ummah, the mujahdeen are defending the muslims, not killing them.
      they have stated this many times, now who do you believe, bbc or the muslims?
      I feel sorry for you, if you wage war against the mujahideen, you might be falling under this hadith.

      “Whoever takes a Wali of Mine an enemy, I will wage war on him;

      Repent now, before the sun rises from the west, or before the soul reaches the throat.

      • as-Sahwah

        February 19, 2010 at 1:03 PM

        I have no idea how you reached that conclusion, perhaps read over my post again; rather than assume I meant something I didn’t.

        Also, that hadith (you quoted) is slightly different to how you narrated it:

        عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه ، قال : قال رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم : ( إن الله تعالى قال : من عادى لي وليا فقد آذنته بالحرب

        On the authority of Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه who said: The Messenger of Allah صلي الله عليه وسلم said:
        ‘Verily Allah The most high has said: Whosoever shows enmity to a wali of Mine, then I have declared war against him …’

        Bukhari

        • mohammad

          February 20, 2010 at 5:55 AM

          salamaulaikum,

          akhi, that reply wasnt to u, it was to this site, i accidently pressed reply after your name
          sorry akhi :)

  5. F

    February 19, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it is true or false. Either way, the country is going down the sinkhole unfortunately. It wasn’t doing much better when the Soviets left in the 80s and the Muslim factions fought themselves and killed/raped fellow Muslims for over a decade.

    World is rarely black and white as some of us like to believe. It’s easy to make assumptions sitting behind the veil of internet and the comforts of the couch. The world is very complicated and unfortunately it doesn’t break down into a superhero movie of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’

  6. Muslim

    February 19, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    Amazing stuff MM.

    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2010/02/18/human-shields-afghanistan

    Home » Blogs » Asia
    Human shields in Afghanistan
    By James Bays in

    * Asia

    on February 18th, 2010
    .
    Share
    Photo from AFP

    What are viewed as “human shields” in the west may be seen by some Afghans as brave men taking a last stand to protect their women and children from foreign invaders.

    According to Nato commanders, the Taliban are now using human shields in the ongoing battles around the town of Marja.

    I do not doubt the details of the incidents that have been reported. The military on the ground report being fired upon from nearby buildings, and then before they can respond, women and children start to appear in the same area.

    These details have also been witnessed by journalists embedded with some of the military units in the area.

    The Associated Press quoted Brigadier General Mohiudin Ghori, the brigade commander of Afghan troops in Marjah, as saying: “They are trying to get us to fire on them and kill the civilians.”

    There is no doubt that the Taliban are fully aware of the Nato rules of engagement. When General Stanley McChrystal published his tactical directive in July last year, it was covered by most major news organisations.

    It called on commanders, “to scrutinize and limit the use of force like close-air support against residential compounds and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties.”

    Just before the start of the Marjah offensive, a British commander Brigadier James Cowan told his men to avoid shooting at civilians.

    “Defeat the enemy by avoiding civilian casualties. Hold your fire if there is a risk to the innocent, even if this puts you in greater danger. That kind of restraint requires courage – courageous restraint. This you have shown throughout our time in Afghanistan,” he said. These comments were widely reported.

    The Taliban know very well that civilian casualties over the last eight and half years have damaged support among the ordinary Afghans both for the Karzai government, and for continued international military involvement.

    I do, however, think some care needs to be taken before using the term “human shields”.

    The first time I recall the phrase being used was in 1990. I was reporting at the time from Baghdad, and the “human shields” then were those westerners captured, held (and eventually released) by Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait.

    This time, though, we are probably not talking about hostages, held against their will, sometimes handcuffed and blindfolded.

    Most, but not all, of those fighting for the Taliban in Helmand are locals.

    Afghans here tell me that in many cases the women and children in the homes with a Talib fighter are likely to be his own women and children.

    What are viewed as “human shields” in the west may be seen very differently by Afghan eyes. Some perhaps would even talk of brave men taking a last stand to protect their women and children from foreign invaders.

    • Kashif

      February 19, 2010 at 9:13 PM

      “Afghans here tell me that in many cases the women and children in the homes with a Talib fighter are likely to be his own women and children.”

      Doesn’t really answer what they are doing on a roof of a building which is directing fire at Afghan and US military. “Human Shield” isn’t limited to a kidnapped hostage with a blind fold. It includes cowards who hold up their wife or child in one arm while shooting with the hope that they will not be fired on.

      “Some perhaps would even talk of brave men taking a last stand to protect their women and children from foreign invaders.”

      Protecting your woman and child by having them show up on your roof while you lob rockets? Makes no sense whatsoever, maybe that’s the why the speuclative “perhaps” is used instead of a stronger word.

      • Amad

        February 20, 2010 at 4:56 AM

        Agree… the same article has been peddled 3 times in the comments, as if it provides some sort of saving grace for putting your own family in harms way.

        Apparently there was opportunity to leave the zone before the attack as many did.

        Not to be misunderstood, I think the entire Afghanistan strategy is a complete mess, and the puppet government and warlords led “democracy” a sham… but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • MR

      February 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM

      JazakAllah khair! I have added this to the post.

  7. Hammad

    February 19, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Hmm..
    Typical Israeli tactics… Forget the primary issue (The invasion of the Afghanistan lands and an illegal occupation and battle by the Western forces) and focus on ALLEGED secondary issues confirmed and verified by the same parties committing them.

    Final conclusion: The Muslims in Afghanistan deserve what they’re getting and the West are the heroes implementing Allah’s Haqq and Justice on the world today.

    Nauthubillah.

    • musa

      February 20, 2010 at 3:29 AM

      i agree. this is typical israeli propoganda

  8. Hammad

    February 20, 2010 at 2:31 AM

    -Edited. This link/text has already been added.

  9. unknown

    April 6, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    Assalamu alaikum MR,

    Here is your USA army doing collateral murder of Iraqis. Will u be writing an article against it?

    http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3D5rXPrfnU3G0%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded

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