Shadow Wars / Schattenkriege
US-Sonderkommando "Joint Special Operations Command" (JSOC) praktiziert "gezielte Tötungen" / By Conn Hallinan
Der Autor des nachfolgenden Artikels, der Ende Mai in der US-Internet-Zeitschrift "Foreign Policy In Focus" erschien, untersucht eine Reihe mysteriöser Militäraktionen, die in den letzten Monaten in Sudan, Syrien und Pakistan stattgefunden haben - mit zahlreichen Todesofern. Das Gemeinsame all dieser Überfälle: Es gab weder eine Kriegserklärung, noch einen Absender, noch einen Staat, der sich zu den Angriffen bekannte, und auch die betroffenen Staaten verzichteten auf Schuldzuweisungen an irgend jemandes Adresse. Gleichwohl werden die Vorfälle Israel und den USA zugeschrieben. Vor allem in den USA seien in den letzten Jahren erhebliche Investitionen vorgenommen worden, um verdeckte Kriegsoperationen, zum Teil ausgeführt von unbemannten "Drohnen" (z.B. der "Predator drone"), im weltweiten Kampf gegen den Terrorismus oder sog. Schurkenstaaten durchführen zu können. Dazu gehört auch die Fähigkeit zu "gezielten Tötungen" ("targeted assassinations") - eine Strategie, welche die israelische Armee schon lange in ihrem Kampf gegen Palästinenserorganisationen wie Hamas oder (früher) die Al Aksa-Brigaden der Fatah praktiziert. In einem Buch des investigativen Journalisten Bob Woodward von der Washington Post (Titel "The War Within") wurde nun aufgedeckt, dass das US-Militär "geheime operative Fähigkeiten" aufgebaut habe, um Einzelpersonen "extremistischer Fruppen" aufzuspüren, zu lokalisieren und zu töten. Seymour Hersh, ein anderer, weltweit bekannter Enthüllungsjournalist und Pulitzer-Preisträger, berichtete vor kurzem von der Existenz eines militärischen "Mord-Gremiums" ("executive assassination ring"), das Teil eines US-Sonderkommandos (Joint Special Operations Command - JSOC) sein soll und jeglicher Kontrolle durch den Kongress entzogen sei. Diese Einrichtung geht zurück auf einen Geheimbefehl des früheren US-Verteidigungsministers Donald Rumsfeld aus dem Jahr 2004, worüber die New York Times in einem Hintergrundbericht am 9. November 2008 informierte ("Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda", by ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI).
Die "Philosophie" der "Enthauptung", die hinter den verdeckten militärischen Operationen steckt, ist indessen gar nicht so neu. Sie sei, so argumentiert Conn Hallinan, beeits während des Vietnam-Kriegs entwickelt und umgesetzt worden. Damals seien im Zuge der "Operation Phoenix" rund 40.000 "führende Aufständische" in Südvietnam gezielt getötet worden.
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir den höchst lesenswerten Artikel von Conn Hallinan.
by Conn Hallinan *
Sudan: The two F-16s caught the trucks deep in the
northern desert. Within minutes, the column of vehicles
was a string of shattered wrecks burning fiercely in
the January sun. Surveillance drones spotted a few
vehicles that had survived the storm of bombs and
cannon shells, and the fighter-bombers returned to
finish the job.
Syria: Four Blackhawk helicopters skimmed across the
Iraqi border, landing at a small farmhouse near the
town of al-Sukkariyeh. Black-clad soldiers poured from
the choppers, laying down a withering hail of automatic
weapons fire. When the shooting stopped, eight Syrians
lay dead on the ground. Four others, cuffed and
blindfolded, were dragged to the helicopters, which
vanished back into Iraq.
Pakistan: a group of villagers were sipping tea in a
courtyard when the world exploded. The Hellfire
missiles seemed to come out of nowhere, scattering
pieces of their victims across the village and
demolishing several houses. Between January 14, 2006
and April 8, 2009, 60 such attacks took place. They
killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda members along with 687
In each of the above incidents, no country took
responsibility or claimed credit. There were no sharp
exchanges of diplomatic notes before the attacks, just
sudden death and mayhem. War without Declaration
The F-16s were Israeli, their target an alleged
shipment of arms headed for the Gaza Strip. The
Blackhawk soldiers were likely from Task Force 88, an
ultra-secret U.S. Special Forces group. The Pakistanis
were victims of a Predator drone directed from an
airbase in southern Nevada.
Each attack was an act of war and drew angry responses
from the country whose sovereignty was violated. But
since no one admitted carrying them out, the diplomatic
protests had no place to go.
The "privatization" of war, with its use of armed
mercenaries, has come under heavy scrutiny, especially
since a 2007 incident in Baghdad in which guards from
Blackwater USA (now Xe) went on a shooting spree,
killing 17 Iraqis and wounding scores of others. But
the "covertization" of war has remained largely in the
shadows. The attackers in the Sudan, Syria, and
Pakistan were not private contractors, but U.S. and
Israeli soldiers. Assassination Teams
In his book The War Within, The Washington Post's Bob
Woodward disclosed that the U.S. military has developed
"secret operational capabilities" to "locate, target,
and kill key individuals in extremist groups."
In a recent interview during a Great Conversations
event at the University of Minnesota, two-time Pulitzer
Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh
revealed a U.S. military "executive assassination
ring," part of the Joint Special Operations Command
(JSOC). Hersh says that "Congress has no oversight"
over the program.
According to a 2004 classified document, the United
States has the right to attack "terrorists" in some 15
to 20 nations, including Pakistan, Syria, and Iran. The
Israeli military has long used "targeted
assassinations" to eliminate Tel Aviv's enemies. U.S.
and NATO "assassination teams" have emerged in Iraq and
Afghanistan, where, according to the UN, they have
killed scores of people. Philip Alston of the UN Human
Rights Council charges that secret "international
intelligence services" allied with local militias are
killing Afghan civilians and then hiding behind an
"impenetrable" wall of bureaucracy.
When Alston protested the killing of two brothers in
Kandahar, "not only was I unable to get any
international military commander to provide their
version of what took place, but I was unable to get any
military commander to even admit that their soldiers
were involved," he told the Financial Times.
In Iraq, such special operations forces have carried
out a number of killings, including a raid that killed
the son and a nephew of the governor of Salahuddin
Province north of Baghdad. The Special Operations
Forces (SOF) stormed the house at 3AM and shot the
governor's 17-year-old son dead in his bed. When a
cousin tried to enter the room, he was also gunned
Such "night raids" by SOFs have drawn widespread
protests in Afghanistan. According to the Afghanistan
Independent Human Rights Commission, night raids
involve "abusive behavior and violent breaking and
entry," and only serve to turn Afghans against the
Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri Kamal al-Maliki charged that a
March 26 raid in Kut that killed two men violated the
new security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.
The Predator strikes have deeply angered most
Pakistanis. Owais Ahmed Ghani, governor of the
Northwest Frontier Province, calls the drone strikes
"counterproductive," a sentiment that David Kilcullen,
the top advisor to the U.S. military in Afghanistan,
agreed with in recent congressional testimony. The U.S.
government doesn't officially take credit for the
attacks. Budgets and Strategy
If Congress agrees to the Defense Department budget
proposed by Pentagon chief Robert Gates, attacks by SOF
and armed robots will likely increase. While most the
media focused on the parts of the budget that step back
from the big ticket weapons systems of the Cold War,
the proposal actually resurrects a key Cold War
priority of the 1960s.
"The similarities between Gates' proposals and the
strategy adopted by the Kennedy administration are too
great to ignore," notes Nation defense correspondent
Michael Klare. These similarities include "a shift in
focus toward unconventional conflict in the Third
Gates' budget would increase the number of SOFs by
2,800, build more drones like the Predator and its
bigger, more lethal cousin, the Reaper, and enhance the
rapid movement of troops and equipment. All of this is
part of General David Petraeus's counterinsurgency
The concept is hardly new. The units are different than
they were 50 years ago - Navy SEALS and Delta Force
have replaced Green Berets - but the philosophy is the
same. And while the public face of counterinsurgency is
winning "hearts and minds" by building schools and
digging wells, its core is 3AM raids and Hellfire
The "decapitations" of insurgent leaders in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Pakistan is little different - albeit
at a lower level - than Operation Phoenix, which killed
upwards of 40,000 "insurgent" leaders in South Vietnam
during the war in Southeast Asia. Hidden Wars
In the past, war was an extension of a nation's
politics "too important," as World War I French Premier
Georges Clemenceau commented, "to be left to the
But increasingly, the control of war is slipping away
from the civilians in whose name and interests it is
supposedly waged. While the "privatization" of war has
frustrated the process of congressional oversight, its
"covertization" has hidden war behind a wall of silence
"Congress has been very passive in relation to its own
authority with regard to warmaking," says Princeton
international law scholar Richard Falk. "Congress
hasn't been willing to insist that the government
adhere to international law and the U.S. Constitution."
The SFOs may be hidden, but there are eight dead people
in Syria, four of them reportedly children. There are
at least 39 dead in northern Sudan, and more dead in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of civilian dead in
Pakistan runs into the hundreds.
The new defense budget goes a long ways toward
retooling the U.S. military to become a quick
reaction/intervention force with an emphasis on
counterinsurgency and covert war. The question is:
Where will the shadow warriors strike next? c 2009
Foreign Policy In Focus
* Conn Hallinan is a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist.
Source: Foreign Policy In Focus, May 26, 2009; http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6141
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