Top NATO commander directs forces to kill opium producers
US General John Craddock wants troops in the 50,000-strong military alliance "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan," according to a classified document.Berlin -- NATO's top commander in Afghanistan has directed that opium dealers should be killed even without proof of ties to insurgents, according to a German magazine.
US General John Craddock wants troops in the 50,000-strong military alliance "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan," Spiegel said in its online edition, citing a classified document.
It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," the report cited Craddock as saying. The alliance "has decided that (drug traffickers and narcotics facilities) are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and thus may be attacked."
However, the directive, the result of an October 2008 meeting of NATO defense ministers, has created unease among NATO High Command, Spiegel said.
The directive was sent on January 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, which is currently in charge of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and to David McKiernan, commander of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
However, neither man wants to follow the directive as they believe it is illegitimate and violates both ISAF's rules of engagement and international law, Spiegel said.
A classified letter issued by McKiernan's Kabul office says that Craddock is trying to create a "new category" in the rules of engagement for dealing with opposing forces.
This new category would "seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people and the international community ... to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties to the greatest degree predictable," Spiegel cited the letter as saying.
NATO defense ministers decided at a summit in October to let nations serving in Afghanistan as part of ISAF volunteer individually to battle the production of opium.
Experts say the opium trade earns the Taliban hundreds of millions of dollars that it uses to finance its insurgency against the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world's illegal opium, much of which is turned into heroin inside the country and exported to Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
The bulk of Afghanistan's opium production is centered in the south of the country, which is also the heart of the Taliban insurgency.
Germany's 3,300 troops are based in the relatively peaceful north. Berlin decided last year to increase its contingent to 4,500 troops.