‘A beacon of hope for the future of Afghanistan’.

Former British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sherard Cowper-Coles on the execution of 8 Afghan prisoners in 2008, and William Wood’s (who was the U.S. Ambassador at the time) response to it:

‘On the fateful day, the prisoners were taken out under cover of darkness, to the Afghan Army’s main training grounds near Kabul, where the executions were due to take place. Unfortunately, the gate guards there said that they had had no orders to admit the prisoners or their executioners. Reportedly, the wretched party spent some time driving around, hoping to light on a suitable spot for the execution. Eventually they found one, and the guards removed the prisoners’ manacles and shackles so that they could pray for the last time. But, in the darkness, the temptation to escape proved too great to resist. The prisoners made a dash for freedom, and ended up being mown down by machine-gun fire.

But the deed had been done, as President Karzai reported to the US Ambassador and me at a meeting of the war cabinet a day or so later. I was privately appalled at what had happened, but, rather ignobly, chose to say nothing. My American colleague was not so restrained: reflecting the views of the Republican Administration for which he worked, the US Ambassador told the President, without the slightest sense of irony, that the executions had been ‘a beacon of hope for the future of Afghanistan’’.

Cowper-Coles, Sherard (2011-05-23). Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign (Kindle Locations 2532-2533). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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