Leaders of the NATO invasion forces attempting to subjugate Afghanistan often cite statistical evidence to convince a skeptical public that the war effort is going well. In particular, they emphasize the success of “capture-or-kill” operations targeting leaders of the Afghan resistance. These claims are now being undermined by a study recently released by the Kandahar-based Afghanistan Analysts Network. The report, by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, examined 3,771 press releases published by the NATO-led International Stability Assistance Force between December 2009 and September 2011.
The report shows that for every resistance “leader” killed in a raid, an average of eight other people also died. It also reveals that ISAF used the term “leader” so loosely as to be meaningless. A “leader” might simply be the owner of a house that ISAF suspected was used by resistance forces. An earlier study also noted that NATO later released many of the so-called “leaders” they had captured in raids.