Home News At an Deserted American Base, a Infamous Jail Lies Empty

At an Deserted American Base, a Infamous Jail Lies Empty


On July 1, with little warning and no public ceremony, U.S. forces abandoned the sprawling Bagram Air Base, the hub of the 20-year American battle effort in Afghanistan. Six weeks later, on Aug. 15, Taliban fighters swept into the base and freed 1000’s of prisoners — together with senior Taliban and Al Qaeda figures — from a jail complicated at Bagram.

A base that was as soon as a bustling metropolis housing tens of 1000’s of troops is now a desolate smash. Inside Bagram’s concrete blast partitions, a bedraggled unit of Taliban fighters guards the emptied jail, as soon as the location the place the U.S. army detained 1000’s of individuals suspected of being insurgents, usually for lengthy intervals with out cost or trial. The guards camp amid mountains of particles and private belongings deserted by fleeing prisoners, and broken tools left by U.S. and Afghan authorities forces.

A number of Taliban guards lately allowed the photographer David Guttenfelder to tour the jail, the place he climbed into cells affected by clothes, notebooks, drawings, bathroom gadgets and trash. Among the many gadgets have been footwear constituted of orange jail uniforms. The photographer entered the cells by ragged holes in jail partitions smashed open by fleeing inmates.

In jail yards and alongside walkways, Mr. Guttenfelder encountered uniforms, helmets, riot shields, handcuffs and different gadgets deserted by Afghan authorities guards. The USA turned the base over to Afghan forces in July.

The jail, often known as the Detention Facility in Parwan, was built by the United States in 2009. It changed a close-by detention middle at Bagram, often known as the Bagram Assortment Level, the place detainees endured abusive remedy on the base. American army pathologists dominated that two detainees died in 2002 from beatings inflicted whereas in U.S. custody.

Whereas the Parwan facility offered extra humane circumstances for prisoners, it grew to become the supply of violent protests in February 2012 that led to the deaths of Afghans and People after Qurans confiscated from prisoners were burned by U.S. soldiers.

The USA transferred the Parwan detention facility to Afghan authorities management in 2013 after turning over 3,000 Afghan prisoners to Afghan custody.

In 2019, the United Nations reported that the ability, underneath the management of the Afghan Nationwide Military, was overcrowded and that solitary confinement was getting used as a type of self-discipline.

When American forces seized Bagram Air Base in late 2001, it was an deserted wreck fought over by the Taliban and U.S.-backed Northern Alliance militias. The bottom was first constructed by the Soviet Union within the Fifties and served as a hub for Soviet army operations for a decade earlier than troops withdrew in 1989.

Rebuilt by the U.S. army, Bagram expanded into a house away from residence for tens of 1000’s of U.S. and NATO troops. They ate at American fast-food eating places and purchased electronics, T-shirts and groceries at an unlimited publish trade. They dined on pizzas, sizzling canine, hamburgers and ice cream at a number of well-stocked DFACs, or eating amenities.

From two lengthy runways, American fighter planes took off day and night time to assist the U.S. battle effort and, later, U.S.-backed Afghan authorities troopers and police.

Right now, the bottom and the jail are quiet. Taliban guards mentioned Bagram was managed by two Taliban commanders, one with 500 males underneath his command and the opposite with 200 males.

The jail guards, members of a unit from Helmand Province, mentioned they have been wanting to see close by Kabul, the Afghan capital, for the primary time. The lads function from a cargo container and sleep on mattresses atop wood pallets. Some spend their time selecting trash out of concertina wire, tidying up a facility that’s their momentary residence.

One guard mentioned he would reasonably be elsewhere in Afghanistan, serving to fellow Afghans, as an alternative of guarding an deserted jail. One other contended that the US had spent billions of {dollars} on the bottom and jail that might have been used for humanitarian initiatives.