Report: Afghans say body of US torture victim found

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The Afghan national, Sayid Mohammad, was reportedly caught on tape being tortured by Zakaria Kandahari, an Afghan-American who was working as an interpreter for the special operations team stationed at the base.

Kabul claims Kandahari, who has not been seen since the video went public, played a role in the killings or disappearance of 15 Afghans in Wardak province.

The Karzai government has accused Washington of protecting Kandahari, who is now wanted on charges of murder, torture and abuse.

The Pentagon has denied Kandahari is an American and says he is no longer working with U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, according to the Times.

In February, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. special forces to leave Wardak, alleging American troops had committed torture and abducted civilians during their time in the province.

U.S. special operations forces have since handed control of Nerkh to the Afghan National Security Forces, while American special forces continue to operate inside the rest of Wardak province.

Earlier this month, Maj. Gen Tony Thomas, the top commander of U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, denied any allegations of murder or torture of Afghan civilians by special forces teams in Wardak.

Thomas did not address The Times report specifically, but noted that a joint commission of American, Afghan and NATO leaders cleared the American special operations teams from any wrongdoing.

"All of [the accusations] were investigated pretty extensively. None were found to be substantiated," he said Wednesday.

Thomas admitted his forces were not "as wary and as attuned to the political lines in that particularly contentious district" as they should have been, prior to Karzai's decision to expel U.S. forces from Wardak.

Underestimating the political blowback in Kabul taught American commanders an important lesson, he added.

The allegations of torture at the hands of U.S. forces became a rallying cry for Afghans pushing for a rapid withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan.

Roughly 66,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan, with half of those forces scheduled to withdraw from the country this spring.

The final 32,000 American forces remaining in the country will start coming home following the country's presidential election in April 2014 — officially ending America's combat role.

Karzai's decision to kick out the special forces teams from Wardak province could indicate a move among Afghan leaders to play to the growing anti-American sentiment within the country, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told The Hill in February.