Accountability needed in Afghan massacre

July 24, 2009 at 12:01 PM

PHILADELPHIA, July 24 (UPI) -- It is critical for Washington to use due diligence in investigating a possible coverup of an alleged 2001 massacre in Afghanistan, rights groups say.

A July 10 article in The New York Times claims U.S. officials under President George W. Bush were reluctant to pursue claims against Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum for his alleged role in the massacre of "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of Taliban prisoners in 2001 because Dostum was on the CIA payroll.

The Dasht-i-Leili massacre allegedly occurred at the hands of forces led by Dostum who were cooperating with U.S. Special Forces and intelligence officers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Physicians for Human Rights uncovered mass graves in northern Afghanistan in 2002 and claims autopsies indicate evidence of possible war crimes.

Jennifer Leaning, whose team discovered the site, told Terry Gross, the host of WHYY's Fresh Air, that there was an intent by forces under Dostum's control to see Taliban prisoners die.

Dostum, for his part, contests the allegations, claiming The New York Times was repeating a 2002 feature from Newsweek magazine that was based on false allegations.

Nevertheless, PHR says it is imperative that the Obama administration show some accountability, not only to the Afghan people, but to Americans as well.

Obama said he has asked his top national security advisers to gather all the evidence pertaining to the Dasht-i-Leili massacre to determine the best way forward.

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