Thursday 23 November 2017

Afghan war logs: massive inquiry launched into source of leaks

Robert Winnett in Washington

A massive leak inquiry has been launched to find the source of tens of thousands of classified American documents on the war in Afghanistan that were leaked to the media.

The documents - detailing military operations between 2004 and 2009 - disclosing how Nato forces have killed scores of civilians in unreported incidents in Afghanistan.

More than 90,000 documents were leaked to the Wikileaks website and shown to several newspapers around the world.

The release of the huge file of classified papers is described as one of the biggest leaks in US military history.

The White House condemned the leak which it said threatened the safety of coalition forces.

A spokesman said: "We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security."

The documents also include references to incidents involving British troops.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We have been unable to corroborate these claims in the short time available and it would be inappropriate to speculate on specific cases without further verification of the alleged actions.

"Reducing the risk to local civilians has always formed an essential part of planning for all military operations carried out by UK forces and we always do our utmost to ensure that we shield the civilian population from violence during the course of any military activity.

The leaked documents reveal the secret efforts of coalition forces to hunt down and "kill or capture" senior Taliban and Al-Qaeda figures.

Although many of the claims have been aired previously, the leak is highly embarrassing.

The documents claim that 195 civilians have been improperly killed and 174 wounded. Many are innocent motorcylists or drivers shot after being suspected of being suicide bombers.

The growing evidence that Iran and Pakistan in supporting and fuelling the insurgency is also detailed in the documents.

Pakistan's ambassador to the United States denounced the leak and insisted his nation was fully committed to fighting Islamic insurgents.

Ambassador Husain Haqqani called the release of the file "irresponsible", saying it consisted of "unprocessed" reports from the field.

The reports also suggest: the Taliban has had access to portable heat-seeking missiles to shoot at aircraft.

The founder of Wikileaks said the angry reaction showed that the whistleblower website is succeeding in its mission.

Julian Assange, 39, an Australian former hacker and computer programmer, told the Guardian: "If journalism is good it is controversial by its nature.

"It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abuses, and when powerful abuses are taken on, there is always a back reaction."

Until the Afghan dossier, Wikileaks' most prominent scoop was a video posted in April this year showing a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad in 2007.

The not-for-profit website organisation has also been responsible for publishing a Guantanamo Bay training manual, BNP membership lists and details of Sarah Palin's private emails.

The source of the leak to the website is so far unknown.

The last person suspected of providing classified material to the outlet is American soldier Bradley Manning who has been charged with two counts of misconduct for allegedly providing video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Iraq in 2007 in which around a dozen people were gunned down in broad daylight.

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News