»In early July, Hamza provided Khalid two rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds with chemical payloads that were intended to spread a poisonous gas upon impact.«
This is the wording in one of the paragraphs found in 14.821 intelligence reports, optained by the Danish daily Information. The reports were withheld by the whist-leblower network WikiLeaks from last year’s publication of the so-called Afghan War Diary.
The information that Taleban commander Qari Khalid operating in Kunar Province has obtained chemically enhanced munitions from a Muhammad Hamza Ahmadzai is just one piece of a wide range of information found in the leaked documents, which document the Taliban’s use of chemical weapons against coalition forces.
Rumours have circulated for years about the Taleban’s interest in chemical warfare but this is the first confirmation from official sources that the Afghan insurgents are in fact using chemical weapons.
The information about Dr. Hamza’s delivery of chemical-laden grenades is part of a so-called intelligence summary forwarded to all coalition forces in Afghanistan as well as to the NATO headquarters.
The same summary dated July 23, 2008, also reveals aspirations in the Afghan rebel movement of acquiring other types of weapons of mass destruction, including urani-um.
According to the summary Dr. Hamza has »expressed an interest in acquiring uranium to be used in explosives for unspecified purposes but found it to be too expensive to acquire,« the report states. »The uranium was allegedly available from an unspecified factory in Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan, at a cost of approximately 35,000 pakistani rupees for ten grams.« According to the report this is equivalent to approxi-mately 538 US dollars.
The report states that Hamza is interested in attacking an ISAF base in Kabul.
»Hamza plans to use six kilograms of the same chemical compound he used in the chemical-laden RPG rounds,« the report claims.
The exact identity of Dr. Hamza is not revealed in summery number 4,144, but ac-cording to more than twenty other intelligence reports, a certain Abu Hamza later be-comes an important Taleban commander in Kunar Province.
Mines with chemical payload
The summary is one of 93 leaked reports painting a completely new picture of the Talebans capabilities regarding chemical weapons. Most importantly, several docu-ments state that the Taleban have already used chemical weapons.
A few days after Dr. Hamza’s delivery to Qari Khalid, an intelligence report dated July 7, 2008, reports that fighters from the same group have utilized RPG rounds car-rying an unspecified chemical payload against an Afghan National Border Police post.
»A drop of the chemical in the RPG rounds burned one of the fighters when it fell on his hand,« the report states.
Among the most important documents found is an electronic surveillance summary dated July 12, 2007, disclosing that the Taleban have employed a new type of mines with a chemical payload in Khost, Logar and Paktia Provinces.
»Insurgents had used a new type (of mines, -ed.) where there are up to twelve addi-tional minelets containing highly toxic substances. When the mine detonates, these minelets are released«, the intelligence summary from ISAF Regional Command West states. Regional Command West covers Western Afghanistan, including the provinces Farah, Heart and Baghdis.
Manual on chemical warfare
The leaked intelligence documents also paint a disturbing picture of the aspirations of the Taleban when it comes to the use of chemicals in their war against the Afghan government and NATO.
Most important among the findings is a 67-pages manual covering bomb manufactur-ing and poison production. The existence of the manual demonstrates that the Afghan insurgents are planning more systematic uses of weapons of mass destruction.
The manual appears in an intelligence summary dated July 10, 2006, which states that it was obtained by a group of ISAF soldiers during a military operation in Uruzgan Province in southeast Afghanistan in late June 2006.
The manual itself is not included in the 14,821 intelligence documents leaked to In-formation. But according to the summary it is »a neatly handwritten manual in Pash-tu« containing both thorough instructions in the production of explosives, of poison, and the creation of detonators including timer devices.
Among the chemical poisons included in the manual is sodium iodide that in larger doses causes vomiting, diarrhoea and fatal kidney failure; botulinum, which causes deadly food poisoning; and potassium cyanide, deadly even in very small quantities.
The intelligence report also contains a dramatic warning that the Taleban possess knowledge on the use of biological weapons: »of particular note, the manual contains on page 44 of the translation instructions on the creation of a possible biological agent,« the report states. There is no specification of the biological agent or any in-formation on the owner of the manual, neither in this report nor in any of the other leaked documents from Afghanistan.
Training in Pakistan
The Taleban's intentions of conducting chemical warfare are backed by warnings in more than thirty intelligence reports that the Taleban is planning attacks on Afghan and international forces using munitions with chemical payloads.
Among the targets indicated are the US run Baghram Air Base, BAF, north of Kabul, and ISAF's main base in southern Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield, KAF.
Some reports also warn of imminent biological attacks, but there are no examples in the leaked material that any such attack have been conducted.
The first leaked reports in the collection on the Taleban intentions on this matter date back to 2005, and the latest to the fall of 2009. The reports cover everything from training to warnings of planned attacks.
Three summaries report on training camps in Pakistan, where the Taleban and other anti coalition militias conduct training in chemical and biological weapons.
One of the three reports dated March 28, 2005 states: »Approximately 217 Taleban and anti-coalition militia personnel continue to conduct training in weapons of mass destruction in the vicinity of Sakar, Pakistan. The individual in charge of the attack plan is a possible Pakistan inter-security intelligence directorate Colonel named Hi-dayat Ullah, aka Jenat Ghul (presumably from the Pakistan Intelligence Agency ISI). The WMD attack plan target continues to be the Kandahar, Afghanistan Airfield. ). The timeline for the execution remains unclear...« the report states.
Another of the reports dated April 19, 2006 claimes that three dozen Al-Qaeda mem-bers »reportedly completed training at an Al-Qaeda training camp in Northern Paki-stan and planned in mid-April 2006 to launch improvised explosive device and poison attacks against Afghan and probably coalition forces operating in Khost, Paktia, Pak-tika, Logar, and Kabul Provinces of Afghanistan.«
The leaked war documents also detail the use of poison as another Taleban speciality. Apparently the preferred targets for these weapons are the Afghan security forces, presumably because both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police are significantly less protected than the international forces.
A search in the new documents on the word ‘poison’ produces 50 reports, most of which concern Taleban attempts to poison the Afghan soldiers and police forces. Many of the previously leaked documents from Wikileaks concern the use of poison, too.
For example, an intelligence report dated September 8, 2009 claims that an Afghan Border Police member, major Sharafuddin Bevan Bik, was found unconscious:
»Then taken to the hospital where he died of poisoning,« concludes the report stating that major Bik was chief of logistics in the 4th Kandak of the Afghan Border Police. An Afghan Kandak is approximately the size of a battalion – around 500 soldiers.
Six weeks later on October 28, 2009, another report discloses that Taleban succeeded in poisoning the water supply to the central police station in the Chawki district, Kunar Province, on the border to Pakistan. Here ISAF found the dangerous poison cyanide in two of the trucks carrying water to the Afghan Police Head Quarters: »COP Fortress has tested the water trucks three times. All tested positive for cyanide. Cop Fortress has detained both trucks and drivers for further investigation,« the report states.
Besides poison attacks on military targets, Taleban is also targeting the civilian popu-lation, according to the newly leaked intelligence documents.
Both government offices, officials, businessmen and craftsmen working with or for the government, and not least schools are detailed in the intelligence reports as targets for poison attacks.
One example is an intelligence summary dated May 20, 2008. The report warns that the close Taleban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of Hezb-e-Islami is in the preparatory phases of a plan to infiltrate the schools of Kabul.
»The organization has been training women in the Shamshatu Refugee Camp, Pakistan - the women have reportedly completed training, and are en-route to Kabul. Upon reaching Kabul, the women will apply for a teaching position through the Ministry of Education, and due to the lack of teachers in Kabul, the women will most likely be hired. Once hired, the women will await for an opportune time to either conduct an IED attack, or poison the water supply in the school. Furthermore, the women have been instructed to target children of rich or Afghan government affiliated families, for kidnapping,« the report states.
Poison attack confirmed
The thousands of schools emerging all over the country as a part of the international reconstruction effort are clearly a favoured target for the insurgents, the reports show.
The number of actual poison attacks conducted by the Taleban and its allies is not mentioned in the leaked documents, but according to the New York Times the Afghan Ministry of Public Health in late August confirmed that numerous schools have been hit by poisonous gas attacks.
According to a spokesman from the Ministry of Public Health the blood of victims have been testet and »the presence of toxic but not fatal levels of organophosphates«, found. Organophosphates are widely used in insecticides, and are also ingredients in the nerve gasses sarin and VX, known as some of the most powerful chemical weap-ons, the New York Times informs.
As late as August 28 last year, 48 school children and four teachers from Zabihullah Esmati High School in Kabul, were hospitalised showing poison gas symptoms, ac-cording to numerous press reports and confirmed by the Ministry of Public Health.
According to the press reports the pupils noticed a strong, sweet smell in one of the classrooms. Several girls began complaining of headaches and sore throats, and within minutes they began fainting. Many more fainted as they tried to flee, some turned bluish from oxygen deprivation; in all, 52 students and teachers were taken to the local clinic and a hospital, were they were treated with oxygen.
According to doctors at the clinic the girls displayed classic symptoms of organo-phosphate poisoning, including tearing, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Luckily none of the students from Zabihullah Esmati High School died, but the attacks have caused many parents to keep their children home.
Translated by Emil Rottbøll
Information har fået adgang til 14.821 amerikanske efterretningsrapporter fra krigen i Afghanistan. Rapporterne er såkaldte threat reports – trusselsrapporter, som indeholder forskellige typer af efterretninger baseret på oplysninger fra kilder eller elektronisk overvågning.
De 14.821 efterretningsrapporter er en del af de såkaldte afghanske krigslogs, som whistleblower-netværket Wikileaks offentliggjorde i sommeren 2010. Ved den lejlighed valgte Wikileaks at tilbageholde de 14.821 efterretningsrapporter med den begrundelse at de indeholdt navne på spioner og informanter.
En håndfuld medier, heriblandt The Guardian, Der Spiegel og New York Times fik alligevel adgang til efterretningsrapporterne, men har også valgt ikke at offentliggøre dem i deres helhed.
Information offentliggør af samme grund kun de rapporter, som er relevante for vores journalistiske behandling af stoffet.
- 19. april 2011International forces in Afghanistan have made extensive use of the napalm-like substance in everything from grenades to bombs – in spite of the fact that most of the war against the Taleban is fought in populated areas. Human rights groups caution that ISAF has a duty to protect civilians
- 19. april 2011Menneskerettighedsorganisationer og militæreksperter mener, at hvid fosfor er et unødvendigt angrebsvåben i krigen mod Taleban, men ISAF fastholder, at det napalmlignende stof er et fuldt lovligt våben, som frit kan anvendes, så længe konventionerne overholdes
- 19. april 2011Her er nogle af de hidtil ukendte rapporter, hvor hvid fosfor tilsyneladende anvendes som angrebsvåben