AAN in Media

Mission Creep: How the NSA’s Game-Changing Targeting System Built for Iraq and Afghanistan Ended Up on the Mexican Border


The Intercept, 29 May 2019

The article refers to an AAN case study of a targeted killing case based on mistaken identity in Afghanistan by Kate Clark:

In 2010, U.S. Special Forces killed a number of people in a convoy that belonged to a candidate in the Afghan parliamentary election. It later turned out that the U.S. military had targeted the SIM card of a person believed to be a senior Taliban leader, when in fact the card belonged to a completely innocent person who contributed to the election campaign of a relative.

The incident was “illustrative of what can go wrong when your intelligence is bad,” said Kate Clark, a former BBC Afghanistan correspondent. She investigated the attack as a researcher for the independent think tank Afghanistan Analysts Network, interviewing survivors, witnesses, and Afghan officials, and speaking to senior officers in the special forces unit that executed the attack.

According to Clark, the investigation revealed “parallel worlds” between signals intelligence and the Afghan reality on the ground. “They were blind to human intelligence. Had they had any understanding of HUMINT, they would have discovered that [the relative of the parliamentary candidate] was well-known,” and not Taliban, she said.

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