The footage embedded below is not for the faint-hearted. It shows several men holding down a prisoner, while another beats him. The victim cries out, and several others, including American soldiers, watch. The footage was obtained by Rolling Stone as part of their investigation into detainee abuse in the war in Afghanistan.
TRIGGER WARNING: The following video contains graphic violence.
Rolling Stone author Matthieu Aikins provides some explanation and translation for the video:
“[B]ased on their facial hair and appearance [the U.S. soldiers] are probably from a U.S. Army Special Forces team. Moreover, the uniform pattern that they seem to be wearing did not see general use in Afghanistan until 2010. (I showed the video to a former Green Beret, who concurred with that assessment.)
Not much is said in the video. The Afghans discuss how to hold down the prisoner in Pashto-accented Dari; the man screams, in Kandahari-accented Pashto, "oh my father" as he is whipped, and pleads with his captors that he will tell them whatever they want to know. Afterward, the uniformed Afghan leans over and asks him if he has any weapons, which the prisoner denies.”
The War in Afghanistan is still happening. While the U.S. is phasing out troops and handing over responsibility to the Afghan government, that doesn’t mean that all is well in Afghanistan. Though torture by U.S. soldiers has ended, as far as we know, it is clear that complicity in torture by Afghan officials is ongoing.
The video raises all sorts of questions: When is this from? Are detainees tortured regularly, even systematically? Did U.S. forces ever try to stop this, or have they been complicit from the beginning?
Journalism on the Afghanistan War is obviously very difficult, but this video may bring a new round of questions, and some unsightly answers.