Imagine being abruptly awoken in the middle of the night to the deafening blasts of bombs falling on your house; you take a couple of seconds to try and shake yourself out of this awful dream, but the shrieking sounds of your children screaming themselves hoarse leaves no room for doubt that it is real. The scorching thick cloud of dust fills your throat and inflames your eyes; and before you even think what to make of what’s happening, a second bomb is dropped to finish off what the first one didn’t. You feel the ground beneath you rattle and entire walls collapse before an ominous silence takes over; no screaming, not even a breathing sound is heard in a house full of people . . . only the buzzing noise of a NATO fighter jet (which by now you know by heart) fading into the distance. You realize that in a matter of minutes your whole world has violently changed, and in a very horrible way.
Nour Agha, the grief-stricken father, was a first-hand witness to the savage killing of his entire family. He reportedly said: “My house was bombarded in the middle of the night and my children were killed. The Taliban were far away from my home, why was my house bombed?” Sadly death has become a very compelling commodity in Afghanistan; especially the type that comes from above with such brutal inevitability.
As bereaved family members and neighbors of the victims were franticly scavenging through the rubble of the two destroyed residential compounds, searching for the scattered remains of their loved ones, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander for the southwest region of Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, said in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable: “I ask that the Afghan people continue to trust and assist their security forces, so that together we can stop the senseless killing brought upon us by an enemy who wants to exploit the Afghan people through fear and violence.”
Of course, as is usually the “standard protocol” in the aftermath of such “unfortunate incidents,” Western coalition officials promised a full investigation into the circumstances of this botched attack, but let’s not hold our breath; the fact that several previous attacks which resulted in civilian casualties went un-probed, with no disciplinary measures or even a real inquiry into the matter, leads us to believe that this, for all intents and purposes, is no more than just an attempt to massage the feelings of the victims’ relatives and quell public anger.
None of the nine children was aware that the seemingly simple act of collecting firewood would come at such a high cost, but sometimes the human race is not very human at all, and civilized nations are anything but civilized.
With the increasing toll of civilians killed from NATO operations in the country it is hard to believe that Western coalition forces cannot possibly avoid casualties among innocent civilians; especially with all the high-tech laser guided missiles, “smart” bombs, and advanced assault weaponry with so-called “pinpoint accuracy.” Not to mention of course the untold numbers of on-the-ground intelligence-gathering units and collaborators; but, hey, then again it could be just the thrill of flying a state-of-the-art military aircraft over a civilian population, combined with the intoxication of enjoying the god-like power in deciding with the push of a button who will die and who will live. The “bravery” of an armed foreign soldier targeting defenseless children from a Black Hawk helicopter is astonishing indeed.
This crime gave us yet again a fleeting — albeit frightening — glimpse into the morally-barren landscape of a Western occupation where death reigns supreme and humanity is in an eternal deep slumber; children get killed left, right, and center, and the ones who are spared the killing are left with a tremendous psychological damage that they’ll never outgrow. Sadly, those are the lucky ones.
In his speech at a Memorial Day ceremony, addressing the families of America’s fallen troops, President Obama said: “To those of you who mourn the loss of a loved one today, my heartbreak goes out to you. I love my daughters more than anything in the world, and I cannot imagine losing them. I can’t imagine losing a sister or brother or parent at war. The grief so many of you carry in your hearts is a grief I cannot fully know.”
Ahmad Barqawi, a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and research on economic and social development in Jordan.