25 Jun 2007

PR# 2007-472

Military investigates press report of detainee abuse

KABUL, Afghanistan – ISAF and U.S. military officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding an article written by Wolfgang Bauer in the German magazine “Focus”, accusing U.S. and Afghan soldiers of witnessing and participating in alleged detainee abuse in Ghazni province.

On June 10, during the conduct of a combined patrol, the article alleges a detainee was tied to the back of a military vehicle.  According to the article, the vehicle's engine was then turned on, and the man was told he would be dragged across the road if he did not cooperate.  Additionally, the article alleges threatening of the detainee’s family members. ISAF and U.S. military officials are conducting formal investigations into the matter.

“This alleged behavior goes against everything the U.S. Military stands for and believes in,” said Col. Martin P. Schweitzer, commander of ISAF forces in the region of the incident.  “We take these accusations very seriously.  The United States commander has appointed a senior officer to investigate the allegations in coordination with Afghan National Security Forces officials and local community leaders.  The soldier in question has been temporarily removed from his post, pending the outcome of the investigation.”  

Any soldiers who may be the subject of the allegations are part of ISAF's Task Force Fury.  That unit comprises U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division.  The task force is in Afghanistan currently under the operational control of ISAF--NATO's military force in Afghanistan.  Criminal investigations for U.S. soldiers in this case will be conducted by the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Division.  Any investigation could take months, depending on the complexity of the evidence under review, officials said.

Commander of the Afghan Army 203rd Corps, Maj. Gen. Abdul Khaliq has also appointed an investigating officer to investigate the actions of the Afghan soldiers present at the time of the incident.

“We are here to lawfully protect the people of Afghanistan,” said Khaliq.  “We will not allow our soldiers to lose sight of the morals and beliefs that bring us together as countrymen and Muslims.  Our people have been tortured and killed by the oppressive regime of the Taliban.  We must take these accusations very seriously, but we will not make any judgments until the investigations are complete. The Afghan Soldiers have also been suspended from their duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/