In memory of

 

Zaryalay, 11, son of Zamaray

on March 22, 2007

 

“Killing of Afghan boy drives father into arms of Taliban” by Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA) Nov 15, 2007, 10:12 GMT

Kabul - Zamaray has sworn to avenge his eldest son, Zaryalay, who was shot to death at the age of 11 by soldiers belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.

Zamaray's story is that of an Afghan man who had not been opposed to the presence of Western military forces in his country but is now resolved to support the Taliban because a bullet from a British assault rifle killed his son.

The 32-year-old has not only pledged to join the rebels and take up the fight against foreign troops but also said he has offered to have his 7- and 10-year-old sons trained as suicide bombers.

After a March 22 visit to relatives in downtown Kabul, Zamaray, his wife, three of his four sons and three daughters were making their way back to their home near the airport when shots rang out.

An ISAF press communiqué released the next day said an armored vehicle had developed engine trouble and had to stop. The accompanying British troops had established a security perimeter around the vehicle when a civilian car approached, it said.

Despite 'verbal warnings,' the civilian driver did not stop but accelerated, the ISAF statement said.

'ISAF soldiers subsequently fired in self-defense,' the press release said.

A child was shot and subsequently died despite immediate first aid given by the troops, the statement added, describing the incident as a 'tragic incident.'

Zamaray offered a different account. After turning onto the street where the shooting occurred, he noticed two ISAF vehicles parked along the roadside, he said.

'Without warning, they [the soldiers] fired at me,' he said.

After the first shot, he stopped immediately, he said. After the second shot, he backed up his van away from the soldiers, but they fired another two shots at the vehicle, he said.

'They should have ceased fire after the first shot,' he insisted. It was the fourth and final bullet that hit Zaryalay, who sat beside him, Zamaray said.

A security guard on duty at a nearby building said he heard a verbal warning before the shooting started.

The van had approached the ISAF vehicles at high speed, then braked but could not come to an immediate halt, the guard said. As gunshots rang out, he dove for cover and did not witness any of the rest of the incident, the man said.

'I saw one of my sons completely covered with blood and brain matter,' Zamaray said. But then the father realized that Zilgay was not the one hit but his older brother sitting next to the 4-year-old.

'There was no shouting,' Zamaray recalled. 'He died instantly.'

When he realized what had happened to Zaryalay, the father said he took the boy in his arms, got out of the van and walked toward the troops, cursing them and at the same time begging them to shoot him too.

'That night I also wanted to die,' Zamaray said, adding that the troops had aimed at him but did not fire.

'Even if you accidentally kill a chicken, you apologize to the owner. They [the soldiers] killed a child but never came to say we are sorry,' Zamaray complained bitterly.

One day in July, he was summoned to the base where the British soldiers were stationed and described what came next as a slap in the face. He was offered 2,500 dollars in compensation for his son's death.

'I replied that the amount would neither be enough to pay for the funeral nor the damage to the van, let alone the death of my son,' Zamaray said.

But Zamaray took the money because he lost his job after his son's death. To do so, he had to sign a form.

'The UK Ministry of Defense has completed its investigation into your claim in respect of the claim of your son, Zaryalay,' it said. 'In this case, it has been decided that the UK Ministry of Defense has no liability. However, as an exception, we are prepared to offer you assistance of 2,500 dollars.'

'This is a joke,' Zamaray said. 'I will definitely take my revenge.'

A few weeks ago, Zamaray met with Taliban fighters in the western Afghan district of Shindand. Unlike the ISAF, they expressed their sorrow at his son's death, Zamaray said. They also offered to help him retaliate for it and pay him a salary at the same time.

He also offered his sons Zardat and Allah Nazar to be trained as suicide bombers and was told they were 'acceptable' because they were not yet 16 and could still be formed. He said he intends to hand them over to the fundamentalist Islamic fighters for training this winter.

For Zamaray, joining the Taliban is a turnaround. He is a native of the Panjir Valley north of Kabul, an area over which the Taliban never gained control during its regime, and he himself took up arms against the radical Islamic movement as a fighter for the Northern Alliance.

'I fought against the Taliban for six years,' he said, 'but now, they [the ISAF] have driven me to join my enemies to take my revenge.'

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

 

Killed by British occupation soldiers