KABUL: The Nato mission in Afghanistan which is led by US, may be exaggerating successes of raids designed to kill or capture insurgent leaders, a flagship strategy in the 10-year war, a report warned Thursday.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) hails the raids as one of the most effective tactics against the insurgency, but the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) says data from December 2009 to September 2011 is inconsistent.
The AAN website reported that, “The lack of transparency is particularly apparent in the case of the insurgent ‘leaders’ that were reportedly being killed and captured; there is no way to properly evaluate these claims,”
There was no immediate reaction from ISAF but just two days ago, the military said the number of Taliban attacks had declined for the first time.
Major General Michael Krause said overall attacks were down in the past two months compared to last year and that the Taliban has failed in recent months to seize back territory lost in US-led offensives in the south.
Basing its data on 3,771 press releases announcing the deaths of at least 3,873 people and the detentions of another 7,146, AAN said ISAF often interchanges the terms “facilitator” and “leader” without explaining why.
It also said statistics in press releases did not tally with more grandiose figures released separately by ISAF to media outlets.
Although it was unclear to what extent this was intentional, “it should make policy-makers and analysts evaluating ISAF’s progress think twice about accepting these body-count figures without more serious scrutiny,” AAN said.
The New York Times, for example, published ISAF figures on 29 June saying that about 130 important insurgent figures had been killed or captured in the last 120 days. Press releases for the same period tallied 80 leaders and facilitators, AAN said.
On September 3, an ISAF release said security forces had captured or killed more than 40 al Qaeda insurgents in eastern Afghanistan this year. A tally of the releases add up to 22 killed and 10 captured, but AAN points out that many are simply noted as having had “suspected ties”.
Last month, ISAF disputed UN statistics showing a 39 percent increase in violence in the war-torn country. AAN does concede, however, that the press releases themselves do not represent a complete figure, given that there may have been unreported operations, and more deaths and detentions per incident than counted.