WASHINGTON – Some 90,000 leaked U.S. military records posted online Sunday amount to a blow-by-blow account of six years of the Afghanistan war, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings as well as covert operations against Taliban figures.
The online whistle-blower WikiLeaks posted the documents on its website Sunday. The New York Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the documents.
The White House condemned the document disclosure, saying it “put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk.”
The leaked records include detailed descriptions of raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit called Task Force 373 against what U.S. officials considered high-value insurgent and terrorist targets. Some of the raids resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians, according to the documentation.
Among those listed as being killed by the secretive unit was Shah Agha, described by the Guardian as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men in June 2009. Another was a Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi, described in the documents as a senior al-Qaida military commander. Al-Libi was said to be based across the border in Mir Ali, Pakistan, and was running al-Qaida training camps in North Waziristan, a region along the Afghan border where U.S. officials have said numerous senior al-Qaida leaders were believed to be hiding.
The operation against al-Libi, in June 2007, resulted in a death tally that one U.S. military document said included six enemy fighters and seven noncombatants – all children.
The New York Times said the documents – including classified cables and assessments between military officers and diplomats – also describe U.S. fears that ally Pakistan’s intelligence service was actually aiding the Afghan insurgency.
The Guardian, however, interpreted the documents differently, saying they “fail to provide a convincing smoking gun” for complicity between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban.