Death Comes at Night: Civilian Victims in U.S. Kill-or-Capture Missions in Afghanistan
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This chapter explores the impact of U.S.-led kill-or-capture missions, or night raids, on the civilian population in Afghanistan. The first section examines how the criteria used by the U.S. military for determining targets of raids led to attacks against civilians (e.g., individuals who frequently communicated with insurgents; civilians providing food and shelter to insurgents; civilians suspected of possessing information on insurgents). The second and third section examine other factors that led to raids targeting civilian homes, for example, reliance on faulty intelligence, mistakes in locating the targeted houses, and excessively subjective interpretations of “hostile acts” and “hostile intent.” The fourth section shows how the too-broad target selection criteria and the vague definition of “hostile intent” led to indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
KeywordsU.S. special operations forces Kill-or-capture missions Night raids Civilian victims Afghanistan International humanitarian law
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