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WikiLeaks unveils Afghan war log
Washington, Jul 27 (Agencies):
Published on 27 Jul. 2010 11:35 PM IST
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More than 91,000 secret U.S. military and intelligence documents about the war in Afghanistan are now in public view, after they were leaked online by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks this week.
The leaked documents — spanning a period from January 2004 to December 2009 — reveal a close relationship between Afghan insurgents and the Pakistani military, as well as numerous accounts of brutality, corruption, extortion and kidnapping committed by members of the Afghan police force.
As well, the documents reveal allegations that the Taliban used heat-seeking missiles to down a helicopter in 2007, possibly killing a Canadian soldier.
The New York Times and Guardian newspapers were given early access to the records, as was the German weekly Der Spiegel.
Here is a roundup of what those outlets have posted online, as well as some reaction and further coverage from around the world:
New York Times
The New York Times on Monday, July 26, 2010. The Times zeroes in on the alleged unspoken ties between Pakistan’s military spy service and the Afghan insurgency, even though Pakistan has received funding from the United States to combat the militants:
“Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”
A small selection of the documents, posted on the Times website, include a threat report about Gen. Hamid Gul, a former director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, providing “strategic advice” to the Afghan Taliban in January 2009.
Gul has denied the allegations, telling Al-Jazeera in an interview that the “flawed” documents’ sources had ulterior political motives.
The newspaper concludes that “over all, the documents do not contradict official accounts of the war” in Afghanistan, but they do “show that the American military made misleading public statements — attributing the downing of a helicopter to conventional weapons instead of heat-seeking missiles or giving Afghans credit for missions carried out by Special Operations commandos.”
The Guardian
The Guardian’s special section on the leaked U.S. military logs. The British newspaper selected about 300 of the secret documents to profile on its website, plotting “significant incidents” on an interactive map.
The Guardian reports that the documents show hundreds of civilians have been killed by coalition troops in previously unreported incidents:
“Some of these casualties come from the controversial airstrikes that have led to Afghan government protests, but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists out of a determination to protect themselves from suicide bombers.
“At least 195 civilians are admitted to have been killed and 174 wounded in total, but this is likely to be an underestimate as many disputed incidents are omitted from the daily snapshots reported by troops on the ground and then collated, sometimes erratically, by military intelligence analysts.”
The newspaper also notes that the Taliban have succeeded in using IEDs — improvised explosive devices — as an “indiscriminate terror weapon” to not only strike at foreign troops, but also to harm and kill thousands of civilians.
Der Spiegel
The German magazine accuses that country’s military of being “helpless” in Afghanistan, where it has been since 2002. Der Spiegel reports that the German armed forces were “poorly prepared” for the Afghanistan conflict, while insurgent forces have established themselves in German-patrolled parts of northern Afghanistan:
“Countless reports in the war logs describe how the Afghan police and army in the north are bitterly fighting an enemy that is constantly advancing. In these clashes, German soldiers usually serve, at most, as advisers or medics tending to the wounded in field hospitals”.
“The number of Afghan security forces wounded or killed exceeds the German casualty count by far. It demonstrates that Afghanistan’s armed forces are still a long way from being able to pacify the country, and that Afghanistan is in fact perilously close to the brink of a new civil war”.
Wikileaks files track Osama Bin Laden
London, Jul 27 (Agencies): New details, including reports on Osama Bin Laden dating from 2006, have emerged from 90,000 US military files leaked to the Wikileaks website.
Several files track Bin Laden, although the US has said it had received no reliable information on him “in years”. The details come as the Pentagon investigates who leaked the classified documents, in an act the White House says could harm national security.
Wikileaks describes the documents as battlefield and intelligence reports.
It says they were compiled by a variety of military units between 2004 and 2009. In August 2006, a US intelligence report placed Bin Laden at a meeting in Quetta, over the border in Pakistan.
It said he and others - including the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar - were organising suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
The targets were unknown, the report said, but the bombers were carrying explosives from Pakistan. Nearly 200 files concern Task Force 373, a US special forces unit whose job was to kill or capture Taliban or al-Qaeda commanders.
Analysis: A Nato own goal The history of US leaks The records log 144 incidents involving Afghan civilian casualties, including 195 fatalities, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reports.
The Wikileaks dossier includes an incident in June 2007 when the unit engaged in a firefight with what were believed to be insurgents. An airstrike was called in.
Seven of those killed were Afghan police officers. A further four were injured. The incident was labelled a misunderstanding.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the leak did not divulge anything new about the nature of the war in Afghanistan but said the details revealed could be damaging.
“[It] has a potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are co-operating with our military and those that are working to keep us safe,” he said.

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