Scoop Links: What Really Happened At Qalai Janghi?
The following are a series of links to recent reports on the “massacre at Qalai Janghi”. Considerably more detail of just what happened at the Northern Alliance prison compound has now emerged.
For ongoing news on war in Afghanistan
How our Afghan allies applied the Geneva Convention
Prisoners massacred, the dead plundered for boots, guns and even gold teeth
Justin Huggler in Mazar-i-Sharif
29 November 2001
The bodies of the dead lay everywhere. Some were laid out in roads to be taken away, others were still lying on the ground where they died, slowly beginning to decay in the morning sun.
An Afghan soldier leant over a body, his hands working intently in the dead man's mouth, clutching a long thin instrument. He was trying to wrench the fillings out of the corpse's teeth even as the flesh began to rot around them.
Dead lie crushed or shot, in the dust, in ditches, amid the willows
Uzbek warlord and western forces deliver a hellish martyrdom to Taliban who courted death
Luke Harding in Mazar-i-Sharif
Thursday November 29, 2001
There can be few episodes in Afghanistan's history where so many people have died such a futile death. The first Taliban body lay sprawled in a ditch next to the front gateway of the 19th century fort yesterday. After a short walk through an avenue of splintered pines and outbuildings full of bullet holes, there were more bodies.
The blackened and shot-up remains of mini-vans and a Red Cross vehicle sat in the gravel car park. Around a corner, it got worse. In the main courtyard of the small citadel that served as a prison for Taliban fighters - who decided to stage an insurrection on Sunday that turned into their last stand - some 40 foreign volunteers lay dead in the dust.
The Castle of Death
What really happened in Qalai Janghi on Sunday, and in the bloody days that followed? Justin Huggler tells the full, harrowing story
30 November 2001
They were still carrying the bodies out yesterday. So many of them were strewn around the old fortress. We saw one go past whose foot had been half-torn off and was hanging from his leg by a shred of flesh. The expression on the face of the dead man was so clear that it was hard to believe he was dead until you saw the gaping red hole in the side of his forehead. The stench of rotting human flesh had become overpowering; at times, it was hard to breathe. But questions remained as they cleared away the bodies of slaughtered foreign Taliban fighters believed to be loyal to Osama bin Laden.
How did US and British special forces come to be involved in the massacre of at least 150 prisoners of war – and maybe as many as 400 – who should have been protected under the Geneva Convention? In terms of numbers, Qalai Janghi could be the worst massacre to have come to light in Afghanistan since the US bombing began. Why did the US quell a prison revolt by bombing the prison from the air? Did American and British special forces call in those air strikes from the ground? And why were the Taliban prisoners allowed to get their hands on an arsenal of weapons large enough to defend the fortress for three days?
Not every regrettable killing in Afghanistan is a war crime
30 November 2001
So, as of this week, we have become war criminals. Events at the Qalai Janghi fort, in northern Afghanistan, are to be set alongside the Srebrenica massacre or My Lai. And those in any way implicated – the Northern Alliance, the SAS, the United States Air Force – are to be compared with Ratko Mladic and Lieutenant Calley. All this without an enquiry.
Some people emit outrage like elephants' piss. The sheer quantity of it soon covers the psychological landscape, and more floods out than can ever have gone in. Should you be able to bottle a sample and take it to the lab for analysis, you find ingredients that include the false claim that the media are somehow ignoring the real story (thus creating a secondary outrage to supplement the first); that mentions awkward counter-facts in parentheses or one sentence (as in, "Of course, the Taliban are also bastards, but...") or not at all; that ascribes sentiments to opponents in quotation marks, but without supplying quotes; that draws parallels with an incontinent inexactitude from anywhere or anytime in world history.