Americans running illegal jail: Afghans

Posted in Broader Middle East | 08-Jul-04 | Source: (Pakistan)

KABUL, July 7: Afghan security forces have arrested three Americans and four Afghans after a shootout in the capital and accused them of illegally detaining and interrogating locals, security officials said on Wednesday.

A US embassy spokesman identified one of the Americans as Jonathan K. Idema, who the US military says has misrepresented himself in the past as a US government or military official.

Police said they exchanged small-arms fire during the raid on the illegal jail in the relatively upmarket Karteh Parwan district of Kabul on Monday, but there were no injuries.

A senior intelligence Afghan official, who did not want to be identified, said the suspects had been using a private house to detain local people. "They carried illegal arms," he said. "They arrested and interrogated people illegally."

Police said several bearded Afghans, apparently detained by the group, were found in the house. Members of the group detaining them were wearing local and foreign military uniforms.

"We are investigating to find out what they were up to," the intelligence official said. US embassy spokesman Roy Glover said he understood three of the men had identified themselves as Americans, including Idema, who had been visited by US consular staff.

The US military said in statements this week that Idema had "allegedly represented himself as an American government and/or military official". "The public should be aware that Idema does not represent the American government and we do not employ him," they said.

An Afghan journalist working for a US television network said a man he knew as Idema had tried to sell what the American described as Al Qaeda training videos to US networks.

The United States, which overthrew the former Taliban regime in late 2001, leads a 20,000-strong force in Afghanistan pursuing Taliban, Al Qaeda and allied Islamic militants.

Earlier on Wednesday, the US military, accused by US-based rights group Human Rights Watch of systematic abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, said it had completed a review of conditions in its detention centres in the country.

It said parts of the report would be released after it was submitted to the US Congress. The military says it has investigated five deaths of prisoners in Afghanistan since August 2002 and last week said it was looking into a new allegation of prisoner abuse.

Last month a CIA contractor was arrested on charges of beating a detainee who died in 2003, the first brought in connection with prisoner abuse in Afghanistan. -Reuters