Victims of the September 11 terrorist strikes in the United States handed over compensation claims to US officials here on behalf of Afghan civilians who lost family or homes in Washington’s retaliatory bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
The handover was the culmination of an eight-day visit to Afghanistan by a group of four Americans who lost family members when terrorists rammed jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing more than 3,000 people.
Kelly Campbell, 29, whose brother-in-law Craig Amundson was killed in the Pentagon attack, said the group had met dozens of Afghan victims since they arrived in the country.
“We’ve met with people who have lost their loved ones to the US bombing, we’ve met children who’ve lost limbs to US cluster bombs, people whose homes were destroyed, who have no income, nowhere to go … and do not know what to do next,” she told reporters.
“The United States government needs to take responsibility for the direct effect on these people’s lives,” she added.
“We have looked at pictures of their families, they have looked at pictures of ours, we have talked with them, we feel the same grief, but they have nothing.
“We owe it to them to do what we can to help them rebuild their homes and give their children health care and an education so they can get on with their lives.”
Among those making a claim was Harafa Ahmad, who lost eight members of her family when her home was hit by a wayward bomb on November 7.
She told reporters she had arrived on her own at the gates of the embassy but had been turned away by officials.
“They treated me as a beggar,” she said.
The US began waging war in Afghanistan on October 7 to flush out Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident believed to have masterminded the September 11 atrocities, and to help topple the Taliban regime which sheltered him.
The head of the Global Exchange non-governmental organization which organized the visit, Medea Benjamin, handed over claims from 12 families to the commanding officer of the US Marines in Kabul, Captain Ferral Sullivan, at the US embassy here.
She said there had been precedents in Lebanon, Grenada and Panama for Washington paying compensation to families of people accidently killed in US bombing campaigns.
The 12 families making the claims, she added, were not angry at the United States and accepted the bombings of civilians had been unintended. They were also pleased the campaign had resulted in the Taliban’s ouster.
“But they feel they were … (also) innocent victims of September 11 and they have such great need and nowhere to turn.”
She said one study had indicated that at least 4,000 civilians were killed in the bombings, which are still continuing, but believed this figure was vastly underestimated.