US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province. The shadowy Task Force 373 meanwhile focuses its efforts on more than 2,000 senior Taliban figures on a target
US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province. The shadowy Task Force 373 meanwhile focuses its efforts on more than 2,000 senior Taliban figures on a target list. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters
The Nato coalition in Afghanistan has been using an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, Task Force 373, to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. Details of more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritised effects list.
阿富汗的北约联军一直在通过一支名为特遣部队373的秘密特种部队搜捕一些目标人物，这些目标人物在被抓捕以后不经审判就被处决或拘留起来，约有2000多名塔利班和基地组织的中坚成员已经被列入了这个“捕杀”名单之中，该名单的正式称谓是Jpel，即共同优先效应名单（joint prioritised effects list）。
In many cases, the unit has set out to seize a target for internment, but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture. The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.
The United Nations' special rapporteur for human rights, Professor Philip Alston, went to Afghanistan in May 2008 to investigate rumours of extrajudicial killings. He warned that international forces were neither transparent nor accountable and that Afghans who attempted to find out who had killed their loved ones "often come away empty-handed, frustrated and bitter".
Now, for the first time, the leaked war logs reveal details of deadly missions by TF 373 and other units hunting down Jpel targets that were previously hidden behind a screen of misinformation. They raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings and of the long-term imprisonment without trial, and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.
On the night of Monday 11 June 2007, the leaked logs reveal, the taskforce set out with Afghan special forces to capture or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman in a valley near Jalalabad. As they approached the target in the darkness, somebody shone a torch on them. A firefight developed, and the taskforce called in an AC-130 gunship, which strafed the area with cannon fire: "The original mission was aborted and TF 373 broke contact and returned to base. Follow-up Report: 7 x ANP KIA, 4 x WIA." In plain language: they discovered that the people they had been shooting in the dark were Afghan police officers, seven of whom were now dead and four wounded.
日志显示，2007年6月11日的夜里，373部队联合阿富汗特种部队在贾拉拉巴德附近的一处山谷中准备对一名名为奎阿尔·乌-拉赫曼的塔利班指挥官进行俘虏或暗杀，当他们在一片漆黑中快接近目标时，有人用火把照亮了他们，随后交火开始了，特遣队召来了一架AC-130重型攻击机，用机关炮对这一区域实施了狂轰滥炸：“既定任务中止，373特遣部队在失去目标后返回基地。后续报告：7xANP KIA, 4xWIA。”用通俗语言表示即为：事后发现，在黑暗中他们射击的目标是阿富汗警务人员，结果是7人死亡，4人受伤。
The coalition put out a press release which referred to the firefight and the air support and then failed entirely to record that they had just killed or wounded 11 police officers. But, evidently fearing that the truth might leak, it added: "There was nothing during the firefight to indicate the opposing force was friendly. The individuals who fired on coalition forces were not in uniform." The involvement of TF 373 was not mentioned, and the story didn't get out.
However, the incident immediately rebounded into the fragile links which other elements of the coalition had been trying to build with local communities. An internal report shows that the next day Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Phillips, commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, took senior officers to meet the provincial governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, who accepted that this was "an unfortunate incident that occurred among friends". They agreed to pay compensation to the bereaved families, and Phillips "reiterated our support to prevent these types of events from occurring again".
尽管如此，事故的发生还是让人们联想起联军其他机构一直尝试与地方社区所建立起的那种脆弱联系。一份内部报告显示，惨案发生后的第二天，省级重建队（Provincial Reconstruction Team）的指挥官中校戈登·菲利普斯就领着一批高级军官会见了楠格哈尔省的省长古尔·阿迦·舍载，省长接受了这是“发生在朋友之间的一次不幸事故”的说法。联军同意对死伤者家属进行赔偿，菲利普斯“反复强调要防止类似事件的再次发生”。
Yet, later that week, on Sunday 17 June, as Sherzai hosted a "shura" council at which he attempted to reassure tribal leaders about the safety of coalition operations, TF 373 launched another mission, hundreds of miles south in Paktika province. The target was a notorious Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi. The unit was armed with a new weapon, known as Himars – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a pod of six missiles on the back of a small truck.
一个星期以后的6月17日，为消除地方领导对于联军行动安全性的顾虑，省长舍载特意主持召开了一次“舒拉”会议。然而，就在会议召开的同时，373特遣部队在数百公里之外的帕克蒂卡省南部又发动了一次搜捕任务，任务目标是臭名昭着的利比亚好战分子阿布·来斯·阿尔-利比。该作战小组装配了一项新式武器，即所谓的高机动性火箭炮系统（High Mobility Artillery Rocket System），简称Himars，它的主体部分是在一辆小卡车后部装上的六发导弹。
The plan was to launch five rockets at targets in the village of Nangar Khel where TF 373 believed Libi was hiding and then to send in ground troops. The result was that they failed to find Libi but killed six Taliban fighters and then, when they approached the rubble of a madrasa, they found "initial assessment of 7 x NC KIA" which translates as seven non-combatants killed in action. All of them were children. One of them was still alive in the rubble: "The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR." After 20 minutes, the child died.
373特遣部队认为利比藏身于一处名为楠加凯尔的村庄，他们计划先向村庄里的目标发射5枚火箭弹，然后再派出地面部队进行攻击。等攻击完毕以后，他们却发现利比并不存在，只是杀死了五名塔利班武装人员，而后当他们走到一处清真寺的残砖瓦砾时，又意外发现“初步评估：7 x NC KIA”，即有7名非战斗人员在行动中被误杀。这些误杀对象都是孩子，其中一人尚在废墟中奄奄一息：“医疗小组迅速清理了他口中的泥土碎屑，并进行了心肺复苏术。”20分钟以后，孩子因为伤势过重还是死掉了。
The coalition made a press statement which owned up to the death of the children and claimed that troops "had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building". That claim is consistent with the leaked log. A press release also claimed that Taliban fighters, who undoubtedly were in the compound, had used the children as a shield.
The log refers to an unnamed "elder" who is said to have "stated that the children were held against their will" but, against that, there is no suggestion that there were any Taliban in the madrasa where the children died.
The rest of the press release was certainly misleading. It suggested that coalition forces had attacked the compound because of "nefarious activity" there, when the reality was that they had gone there to kill or capture Libi.
It made no mention at all of Libi, nor of the failure of the mission (although that was revealed later by NBC News in the United States). Crucially, it failed to record that TF 373 had fired five rockets, destroying the madrasa and other buildings and killing seven children, before anybody had fired on them – that this looked like a mission to kill and not to capture. Indeed, this was clearly deliberately suppressed.
The internal report was marked not only "secret" but also "Noforn", ie not to be shared with the foreign elements of the coalition. And the source of this anxiety is explicit: "The knowledge that TF 373 conducted a HIMARS strike must be protected." And it was. This crucial fact remained secret, as did TF 373's involvement.
Again, the lethal attack caused political problems. The provincial governor arranged compensation and held a shura with local leaders when, according to an internal US report, "he pressed the Talking Points given to him and added a few of his own that followed in line with our current story". Libi remained targeted for death and was killed in Pakistan seven months later by a missile from an unmanned CIA Predator.
In spite of this tension between political and military operations, TF 373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks. Four months later, on 4 October, they confronted Taliban fighters in a village called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from which the fighters had been firing.
The final outcome, listed tersely at the end of the leaked log: 12 US wounded, two teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy wounded, one girl killed, one woman killed, four civilian men killed, one donkey killed, one dog killed, several chickens killed, no enemy killed, no enemy wounded, no enemy detained.
The coalition put out a statement claiming falsely to have killed several militants and making no mention of any dead civilians; and later added that "several non-combatants were found dead and several others wounded" without giving any numbers or details.
This time, the political teams tried a far less conciliatory approach with local people. In spite of discovering that the dead civilians came from one family, one of whom had been found with his hands tied behind his back, suggesting that the Taliban were unwelcome intruders in their home, senior officials travelled to the stricken village where they "stressed that the fault of the deaths of the innocent lies on the villagers who did not resist the insurgents and their anti-government activities … [and] chastised a villager who condemned the compound shooting". Nevertheless, an internal report concluded that there was "little or no protest" over the incident.
The concealment of TF 373's role is a constant theme. There was global publicity in October 2009 when US helicopters were involved in two separate crashes in one day, but even then it was concealed that the four soldiers who died in one of the incidents were from TF 373.
The pursuit of these "high value targets" is evidently embedded deep in coalition tactics. The Jpel list assigns an individual serial number to each of those targeted for kill or capture and by October 2009 this had reached 2,058.
The process of choosing targets reaches high into the military command. According to their published US Field Manual on Counter Insurgency, No FM3-24, it is policy to choose targets "to engage as potential counter-insurgency supporters, targets to isolate from the population and targets to eliminate".
目标人物的选择过程涉及到军事指挥高层的授意。已出版的《美军反叛乱战地手册》（US Field Manual on Counter Insurgency）FM3-24条规定，“为支持反叛乱行动，从居民中隔离和淘汰某些目标，并与之交火”是一项既定政策。
A joint targeting working group meets each week to consider Target Nomination Packets and has direct input from the Combined Forces Command and its divisional HQ, as well as from lawyers, operational command and intelligence units including the CIA.
一个负责目标甄别的联合工作小组每个星期都举行会议，并对所谓的目标提名方案（Target Nomination Packets）进行讨论，倘若遇上联合司令部（Combined Forces Command）、各师部、律师、作战指挥部和CIA情报部门提交上来的目标名单，就直接列入Jpel。
Among those who are listed as being located and killed by TF 373 are Shah Agha, described as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men on 1 June 2009; Amir Jan Mutaki, described as a Taliban sub-commander who had organised ambushes on coalition forces, who was shot dead from the air in a TF 373 mission on 24 June 2009; and a target codenamed Ballentine, who was killed on 16 November 2009 during an attack in the village of Lewani, in which a local woman also died.
The logs include references to the tracing and killing of other targets on the Jpel list, which do not identify TF 373 as the unit responsible. It is possible that some of the other taskforce names and numbers which show up in this context are cover names for 373, or for British special forces, 500 of whom are based in southern Afghanistan and are reported to have been involved in kill/capture missions, including the shooting in July 2008 of Mullah Bismullah.
Some of these "non 373" operations involve the use of unmanned drones to fire missiles to kill the target: one codenamed Beethoven, on 20 October 2008; one named Janan on 6 November 2008; and an unnamed Jpel target who was hit with a hellfire missile near Khan Neshin on 21 August 2009 while travelling in a car with other passengers (the log records "no squirters [bodies moving about] recorded").
Other Jpel targets were traced and then bombed from the air. One, codenamed Newcastle, was located with four other men on 26 November
- The house they were in was then hit with 500lb bombs. "No identifiable features recovered," the log records.
Two other Jpel targets, identified only by serial numbers, were killed on 16 February 2009 when two F-15 bombers dropped four 500lb bombs on a Jpel target: "There are various and conflicting reports from multiple sources alleging civilian casualties … A large number of local nationals were on site during the investigation displaying a hostile attitude so the investigation team did not continue sorting through the site."
One of the leaked logs contains a summary of a conference call on 8 March 2008 when the then head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, tells senior American officers that three named Taliban commanders in Kapisa province are "not reconcilable and must be taken out". The senior coalition officer "noted that there would be a meeting with the Kapisa NDS to determine how to approach this issue."
泄漏的日志中有一条包含了2008年3月8日一次电话会议的摘要，摘要显示阿富汗国家安全理事会（Afghan National Directorate of Security）的头头阿姆拉赫·萨利赫告诉美军的一些高级军官，卡皮萨省的三名塔利班领导人“无法与之和解，必须有所动作”，联军的高级军官“表示需要与卡皮萨国家安全理事会进行接洽，以确定如何执行这项任务。”
It is not clear whether "taken out" meant "killed" and the logs do not record any of their deaths. But one of them, Qari Baryal, who was ranked seventh in the Jpel list, had already been targeted for killing two months earlier.
On 12 January 2008, after tracking his movements for 24 hours, the coalition established that he was holding a large meeting with other men in a compound in Pashkari and sent planes which dropped six 500lb bombs and followed up with five strafing runs to shoot those fleeing the scene.
The report records that some 70 people ran to the compound and started digging into the rubble, on which there were "pools of blood", but subsequent reports suggest that Baryal survived and continued to plan rocket attacks and suicide bombings.
Numerous logs show Jpel targets being captured and transferred to a special prison, known as Btif, the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility. There is no indication of prisoners being charged or tried, and previous press reports have suggested that men have been detained there for years without any legal process in communal cages inside vast old air hangars. As each target is captured, he is assigned a serial number. By December 2009, this showed that a total of 4,288 prisoners, some aged as young as 16, had been held at Btif, with 757 still in custody.
大量的战争日志表明，Jpel名单上的目标人物在被抓捕后就被转移到一座特殊的监狱之中，这座监狱的全称是巴格拉姆战区收容所（Bagram Theatre Internment Facility），简称Btif。没有任何证据表明，关押在那里的囚犯事先经过上诉或审判，而且早先就有媒体爆料说，有些囚犯甚至不经过诉讼程序就被关押了好几年，监狱是一座巨大的飞机棚改造而成的，犯人就被关在其中的公共牢笼中。每抓获一个目标人物，就给他分配一个序列号，截至到2009年12月，Btif总共收押了4288名囚犯，其中的一些犯人甚至只有16岁。到目前为止，这座监狱中依然拘留者757名囚犯。
Who are TF373?
The leaked war logs show that Task Force 373 uses at least three bases in Afghanistan, in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost. Although it works alongside special forces from Afghanistan and other coalition nations, it appears to be drawing its own troops from the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and to travel on missions in Chinook and Cobra helicopters flown by 160th special operations aviation regiment, based at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.
泄密的战争日志表明，373特遣部队在阿富汗至少使用过三处基地，分别是喀布尔以及霍斯特。尽管该军事单元与来自阿富汗以及其他一些国家的特种部队共同执行过任务，但有迹象表明这支军队的士兵主要是来自北卡罗来纳布拉格堡的第七特种部队，而且在执行空中任务时，负责驾驶奇努克运输直升机和眼镜蛇攻击直升机（Chinook and Cobra helicopters）的飞行员来自第160特种作战航空团（160th special operations aviation regiment），其美国所属基地位于乔治亚州的亨特军用机场。