A new report describes a U.S. military complicit in its Afghan allies’ systematic sexual abuse of young boys, going so far as to expel American officers who voiced concern.
According to The New York Times, U.S. servicemen who speak out about Afghan militia commanders’ rape of children face discipline and occasionally expulsion from the military. In one case, an Afghan commander’s 17-year-old “tea boy” killed Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. — allegedly over Buckley’s distaste for the Afghan cultural practice.
“Bacha bazi,” literally “boy play,” is an age-old Afghan custom, and the U.S. military has treated it as simply a cultural difference. But the Times relates that the American policy of turning a blind eye “has often alienated the villages whose children are being preyed upon.”
As the U.S. was overturning the Islamist Taliban government and creating new militias, Special Forces veteran Dan Quinn told the Times, “we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did.” (RELATED: Taliban’s ‘Most Powerful Talisman’ Is Officially Gone)
Quinn gave a beating to a commander when he discovered the Afghan was keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. In response, the Army relieved Quinn of his command.
In another case, Marine Maj. Jason Brezler emailed his superiors a warning about a police commander named Sarwar Jan, who had had a record of corruption and abuse dating back to 2010. Jan moved into a Marine barracks together with his extensive entourage of “tea boys.” (RELATED: Never Mind, Some Afghanistan Operations Just Got Declassified Again)
His warning was ignored, and two weeks later Brezler’s colleague Lance Cpl. Buckley was dead at the hands of Jan’s 17-year-old servant.
U.S. forces never had strong allies on the ground in Afghanistan. But as it continues to support the effort to rebuild the country, news like this continues to erode trust between the U.S. and its Afghan partners of necessity.
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