'On the night of November 19, small-time Afghan opium trader Hajji Habibullah finished his day's business at the local opium bazaar in Musa Qala, in Helmand province, and headed home to his family. He never saw the sunrise.
Helmand province is a poppy-growing powerhouse that for years has been hotly contested terrain in the battle between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government and NATO forces. Under new authority from the Trump White House allowing the U.S. military to "attack the enemy across the breadth and the depth of the battle space, and also functionally, to attack their financial networks, their revenue streams," U.S. and Afghan warplanes mounted bombing raids on "Taliban drug labs," targeting three districts in Helmand. That night, Musa Qala was target one in a dramatic escalation in U.S. Afghanistan policy.
In a press briefing two days later, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, guided reporters through videos documenting the attacks, with bomb blasts destroying small structures as the general narrated strikes by U.S. B-52s and F-22 Raptors. The raid in Musa Qala destroyed "millions" in "opium cooking at the time of the strike," repeatedly emphasizing how careful the raids were to minimize "collateral" casualties.
But the first bombs to fall on Musa Qala didn't fall on a "Taliban narcotics production facility." They fell on Hajji Habibullah's house, killing him, his wife, his seven-year-old daughter and four sons aged between three and eight, as well as a visiting adult daughter and her year-old daughter. Only the son-in-law sleeping in a guest house on the property survived.'
Read more: The U.S. Bombing Campaign Against 'Taliban Heroin Labs' Is Bad Drug War Theatre
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