A disturbing expose of American actions in Afghanistan. Journalist Carmela Baranowska spent three weeks embedded with the marines. She then returned in secret to document what was really happening. A story of prisoners abused and villagers humiliated.
Away from the glare of the media, in the most remote and dangerous parts of Afghanistan, US marines are on a mission to hunt down the Taliban. But in many places their security sweeps are proving counterproductive. More and more villagers are alleging they have been abused by marines. This week's documentary is a disturbing expose of American actions in Afghanistan. Journalist Carmela Baranowska spent three weeks embedded with the marines. She then returned in secret to document what was really happening. It's a story of prisoners abused and villagers humiliated. This report prompted a US inquiry.
"They fingered us, beat us and humiliated us," alleges villager Wali Mohammad. "No Muslim should suffer that." He was imprisoned for three days by the marines after soldiers raided his village and accused him of providing food and shelter to Al Qaeda. His elderly father, Noor Mohammad Lala, was also arrested. "They took my clothes. I could not do anything," Noor confides. Both men claim they were sexually abused and forced to pose for photographs. "I was so humiliated I couldn't see for my pain," states Noor. The marines' raid on their village of Passau was so offensive that locals want the camera to record every indiscretion. "They used this as a toilet," says one man gesturing at the floor of a home. Their wheat harvest was destroyed and the mosque door battered down. As a result of this raid, many people have already left the village. "Almost all the families are gone," complains the tribal elder bitterly. "Our people are being forced to pack up and leave." Stories of abuse have tainted the US military's entire efforts in this region. A few weeks after the raid, Major Alva Cook, Head of Civic Operations, visited the area with gifts of medicine, seeds and a radio. "He asked if we needed anything," recalls the village elder. "And I said "Don't humiliate us." For the villagers, the actions of the marines' allies are as much to be feared as raids by the marines themselves. Local warlord Jan Mohammad has allied with the marines to hunt down the Taliban. But villagers claim that he is exploiting his new American connections to harass villages which belong to a different tribe. "Their tribe, in their areas, have never been searched," one man complains. His friend claims that Mohammad's men recently beat and imprisoned several young children in an attempt to gain information. Ironically, as well as searching for Taliban and Al Qaeda members, the marines are also on a hearts and minds campaign to convince the locals the Americans are their friends. During an earlier raid, Major Alva Cook apologised to tribal elders for the extra dust their vehicles have kicked up. He also provides medical assistance while soldiers crack jokes with local militias about the surrounding poppy fields. But if the aim of the US presence in Afghanistan is to remove the Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants and allow the country to embrace true democracy, they clearly still have a long way to go. In this remote corner of the country they are turning the local people against them. Some are being driven to join what remains of the Taliban. As the village leader summed up "Enough is enough .... These Americans must be accountable to someone."FULL SYNOPSIS