U.S. military officers instructed U.S. soldiers and Marines to turn a blind eye to the sexual abuse of young boys by U.S.-backed Afghan military officers, according to a New York Times report citing interviews and court documents.
The U.S. has long been aware of the practice of child abuse, or “bacha bazi” (boy play), especially by Afghan military commanders.
Yet even when the boys are taken to military bases and kept there as sex slaves, U.S. soldiers are told by their superiors not to blow the whistle on their Afghan allies.
That’s what Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father, Gregory Buckley Sr., before the Marine and two others were killed in 2012 by one of a group of boys who were living on F.O.B. Delhi in Helmand province with an Afghan police commander named Sarwar Jan.
Buckley Sr. said he had urged his son to report the abuses that were taking place at the base to his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Buckley Sr. has filed a lawsuit, pressing the U.S. Marine Corps to release more information about the issue.
“As far as the young boys are concerned, the Marines are allowing it to happen and so they’re guilty by association,” he said.
Among other allegations in the report:
--Former Special Forces captain Dan Quinn lost his command because he beat up an Afghan officer who kept a boy he was raping chained to his bed.
--Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a decorated Green Beret with over a decade in Special Forces who joined Quinn in defending the raped boy, is facing an attempt by the Army to retire him.
--Quinn and Martland had both received desperate pleas for help from villagers asking that something be done about pedophile commanders.
--An Afghan officer spent one day in jail for raping a 14-year-old girl after which she was coerced into marrying him.
Although many in the U.S. forces in Afghanistan were upset by the sexual abuse by their Afghan allies, the report said, some thought a policy of looking the other way made sense in the context of keeping good relations with Afghanistan and focusing on eradicating the Taliban.
Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan told the New York Times, “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He said that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it,” unless, for example, rape was being used as a weapon of war.