Lawyers acting on behalf of Afghan bank worker Habib Rahman, who lost five relatives in a September 2010 missile attack, look set to challenge the British government in the courts over its role in helping to draw up — and implement — a US ‘kill list’.
The US claimed 8-12 ‘insurgents’ were killed in the attack, but an investigation by the Afghanistan Analysts Network’s Kate Clark found that in fact 10 civilians had been killed, and that faulty intelligence had conflated the identities of Mr Rahman’s father-in-law Zabet Amanullah and that of the attack’s intended target, Taliban shadow governor Mullah Amin.
Mr Amin’s name had apparently been added to the US ‘joint prioritised effects list’ (JPEL) — in effect, a list of people in Afghanistan who can be targeted for assassination.
In 2009, a US senate report revealed that the UK armed forces and the serious organised crime agency (SOCA), a British civilian policing body, were involved in compiling the JPEL. According to Wikileaks documents, British forces have been involved in some of the killings.
Mr Rahman’s lawyers, Leigh Day & Co, now look set to pursue a judicial review into the legality of the UK’s participation.
The case is particularly important because, as Kate Clark notes, after 2014 (when US and British ‘combat forces’ are supposed to have withdrawn), there is ‘every indication from Washington that it intends to keep US Special Operations Forces and the CIA in the country and to continue carrying out targeted killings, based on [the JPEL]’ and Britain ‘can be expected to go along with whatever Washington wants.’