Two electoral workers killed in southern Afghanistan
Saturday August 7, 2:54 PM AFP
Two electoral workers were killed when a joint UN and Afghan electoral registration convoy was ambushed in southcentral Afghanistan, officials said.
The team had been registering voters in Charchino district of Uruzgan province some 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of capital Kabul and were en route to the next district Kijran late Friday when they came under fire.
"Two electoral commission workers were martyred and four vehicles were destroyed while they came under attack on their way to Kijran," said provincial governor Jon Mohammed.
The attackers fired at the convoy with light weapons, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The convoy had armed guards and the exchange of fire continued for several hours before the attackers fled the area.
A man identifying himself as a Taliban spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, called AFP from an undisclosed location and claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Our men attacked an electoral convoy in Uruzgan province and destroyed the vehicles and killed the people in the convoy," said Hakimi.
The United Nations could not be reached for comment.
Taliban-linked militants have vowed to disrupt the country's first presidential elections on October 9 and parliamentary elections which have been pushed back to early 2005 to allow the government time to quell rising attacks.
There have been repeated attacks on electoral workers and sites, UN staffers, aid workers, reconstruction companies and Afghan and US-led forces in southern and southeastern Afghanistan.
Bomb Kills Two U.S. Soldiers, Interpreter
Aug 8, 12:17 AM EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A roadside bomb hit an American military vehicle in southeastern Afghanistan, killing two U.S. soldiers and an Afghan interpreter, the U.S. military said Sunday.
Another U.S. soldier was injured in the blast on Saturday about 60 miles southwest of the city of Ghazni, a military statement said. The wounded soldier was flown to the U.S. base in the southern city of Kandahar for treatment and was in stable condition.
The dead soldiers would not be identified before next of kin were notified, the statement said.
Some 58 American soldiers have died in action in Afghanistan since U.S. forces entered the country in 2001 to drive out the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies.
Pakistan Denies U.S. Media Reports of Terrorist Training Camps
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
ISLAMABAD, 6 Aug (RFE/RL) -- Pakistan today denied reports in the U.S. media alleging that Al-Qaeda training camps have been re-established along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told the AFP news agency, "There are n-o terrorist training camps in any part of Pakistan."
U.S.-based news channel CNN (Cable News Network) cited unnamed U.S. sources as saying that air surveillance of the areas around the Afghan-Pakistan border revealed activity around known Al-Qaeda training bases.
A "New York Times" report on Wednesday alleged Pakistan is allowing militants to train insurgents to fight in Afghanistan.
Khan said the recent high-profile arrests of suspected key Al-Qaeda operatives proved Islamabad's commitment to tackling terrorism within its borders.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says Washington remains convinced that Islamabad is "determined" to get rid of any support terrorists might be getting in Pakistan.
Guantanamo inmate alleges torture in Afghanistan
By Jane Sutton Sunday August 8, 7:09 AM
U.S. NAVAL BASE, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Reuters) - A Tunisian being held by the U.S. military at its Guantanamo Bay base has told a military panel that he was tortured while in detention in Afghanistan, U.S. officers say.
The officers relayed to reporters statements which the 35-year-old prisoner made to the panel which is processing all 585 inmates at the base to see if any are not enemy combatants and can be released.
Those who are determined to be combatants from the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan will go before another panel which will decide if they are still threats.
The officers said the Tunisian, whose case is the 12th to be heard since the panel began work this week, had previously told Guantanamo interrogators that he had been trained in Afghanistan to use a Kalashnikov rifle and anti-aircraft and artillery weapons.
But the prisoner changed his story at Saturday's hearing, telling the panel he had never trained or fought.
He said he had been held in Afghanistan for over two months, often outside, in the dark and without sufficient water, and that the treatment prompted him to lie.
"He stated that he made those statements previously because of some mistreatment he had received in Afghanistan, or as he phrased it, torture," one of the officers said.
"He felt he had been abused there, he had become despondent and that it wouldn't matter what he said ... That's why he lied."
The prisoner told the panel that he had been treated well at Guantanamo, had not been tortured there and no longer feared retribution, the officer said.
"He felt free to tell the truth and recant his previous statements," the officer said. "He said he felt safe in coming forward with his current version of the truth."
The Tunisian did not tell the hearing who had held him captive in Afghanistan. Many of the Guantanamo prisoners were captured by Afghan militias allied with U.S. forces. The militias have been accused of locking captives in metal trucking containers, where some died from heat and dehydration.
Some prisoners released from Guantanamo have said they were beaten and abused at the base in Cuba, allegations the military denies.
The Tunisian was the sixth inmate to actively take part in the hearings. Six others refused to participate and their hearings were held without them. Reporters covering the hearings are not allowed to identify the inmates.
The prisoners at Guantanamo have been held for up to 2-1/2 years without recourse to lawyers or the courts. But the Pentagon set up the "combatant status review" hearings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the prisoners have the right to contest their detention in the U.S. courts.
Washington does not consider the Guantanamo prisoners to have the right to protection under the Geneva Conventions.
Utah Soldier Sues Suspected Financier
August 7, 2004 Associated Press
A soldier wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan and the widow of another soldier killed in the battle are suing the estate of a suspected al-Qaida financier whose son was involved in the attack.
The lawsuit alleges the late Ahmed Said Khadr failed to control his then-15-year-old son and prevent him from intentionally harming others in the July 2002 battle.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Layne Morris, of Utah, lost his right eye in the attack; Sgt. 1st Class Christopher James Speer, 28, died from his injuries.
Morris and Speer's widow, Tabitha Speer, filed the lawsuit Friday.
Khadr, an Egyptian-born, naturalized Canadian citizen, is said to have been killed in a gunfight in Pakistan last October. The lawsuit alleges that his son, Omar Khadr, killed Speer and contributed to Morris' injuries.
Assets from Ahmed Said Khadr's estate have been frozen by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The lawsuit, which seeks millions in damages, claims the funds come from an Islamic charity used to set up and run an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.
The elder "Khadr knowingly provided material support and resources in the form of money and services, as well as his flesh and blood" to al-Qaida, the lawsuit states. "Khadr had a duty as a parent to exercise reasonable care to control his minor child."
Omar Khadr, now 17, is being held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after being captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
A New Afghan Policy
By Jim Hoagland The Washington Post Sunday, August 8, 2004; Page B07
Using American troops to strike at Afghanistan's booming opium trade has not been part of the war on terrorism or the U.S. election-year debate. It is time to change both that strategy and that political context.
The White House is near the conclusion of a major policy review on Afghanistan that is likely to expand the role of U.S. forces -- who have focused on hunting down al Qaeda and Taliban remnants -- and commit them to supporting new efforts by President Hamid Karzai to uproot drug lords.
That is not as easy a decision as it may seem. The Pentagon's long-standing reluctance to get deeply involved in counter-narcotics missions abroad has a sound basis. Soldiers do not have the tools and skills to excel at law enforcement or agrarian reform, especially when the political corruption and greed that surround the drug trade make it difficult to tell friend from foe or peasant from profiteer.
This is an acute problem in Afghanistan, where warlords who helped Washington bring down the Taliban and have nominally accepted Karzai as their national leader are also involved in the drug trade, which feeds the heroin habits of Germany, Britain and other European countries while enriching traffickers in Pakistan, Iran and Russia.
But the changing nature of the global battlefield and specific events in Afghanistan require a new approach there. Much more is involved in the decisions that President Bush will soon make than Karzai's needs for more support to establish his authority on the ground -- as important as those needs are.
Bush's decisions will help redefine who the enemy is in the greater Middle East, what tasks Europe and America can realistically share in trying to calm that region, and perhaps the nature of counterinsurgency in the 21st century.
Those are big ideas, worthy of big discussions. Defining the way forward in Afghanistan and in Iraq as part of a regional strategy has to be at least as urgent for the presidential candidates as slamming each other over past votes and mistakes.
The suggested strategy changes that have worked their way up to Bush from the Pentagon and his National Security Council staff are intended to help Karzai extend and solidify his rule nationally if, as expected, he wins the presidential election in early October. U.S. policy changes would start shortly after the Afghan vote.
The CIA has already begun to chart the narcotics involvement of local politicians and militias, especially those who have links to the al Qaeda and Taliban bands operating along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. As insecurity increases in the Afghan countryside, those links seem to be growing.
Moreover, White House and Pentagon hopes have evaporated that the Europeans, through NATO or bilaterally, would take on significant counter-narcotics tasks in Afghanistan.
Britain provided only two rickety helicopters for that mission. Germany invested 29 police officers in training Afghan law enforcement, and other nations did even less. Haggling inside NATO over who would pay for a half-dozen helicopters delayed for months the arrival of badly needed counterinsurgency help.
There has been a broad Western failure to follow up the successful U.S. military campaign of 2001 with a workable reconstruction agenda in Afghanistan. USAID projects have not provided alternative livelihoods for poppy-growing farmers, who reap little of the riches of the drug trade they feed.
The need to broaden the manhunt strategy into one embracing reconstruction has already been adopted by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who has brought American military commanders into the interagency country team he established at the embassy in Kabul.
A memorandum that has been making the rounds as part of the Pentagon's own review goes even further in urging a countrywide counterinsurgency effort. It was written by Robert Andrews, a retired CIA and Defense Department official for the Pentagon's Afghanistan group headed by Martin Hoffman.
"We have to understand better that low-intensity conflict is high-complexity warfare," Andrews told me when I asked him about the memo. "The narcotics problem has become a major impediment to ridding Afghanistan of warlords, the Taliban and al Qaeda. We can shoot an arrow through the heart of the problem with an integrated counterinsurgency program that hits drug lords and terrorists."
Using American troops to pursue such an amorphous program must always be a last resort. But the risks have grown so large in Afghanistan and the stakes are so huge that a change in strategy must be considered.
Afghanistan: As Election Campaign Gets Rolling, Some Already Alleging Fraud
EurasiaNet, Sat 7 Aug 2004
Sometime next week (eds: probably Tuesday Aug 10), Afghanistan’s more than nine million voters will learn the names of the candidates contesting the October 9 presidential election.
Some candidates are already well known -- like current Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai -- but the official list has not yet been finalized.
The UN-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) says some 22 people, including one woman, have applied for permission to campaign for the nation’s top job. But even before active campaigning begins, some are questioning how the registration process has been carried out.
Marzia -- not her real name -- is a teacher in Kabul. She told RFE/RL that she’s afraid of losing her job because she supports a candidate other than one backed by her employer, the Education Ministry. "[The officials at the ministry] didn’t find out about us. If they found out about us we would have been punished," she said. "The other [teachers] were also told at a meeting at the Education Ministry not to give photocopies to anyone [other than the candidate the ministry is supporting]. We were warned that if we do we would be punished."
Such allegations are difficult to prove. But at the JEMB office inside a United Nations compound, officials say they are concerned Marzia may not be alone. "We cannot do anything but we [are only] saying for the government official -- to those who are working for the government -- to keep themselves away from this kind of thing. It is the right of everybody to vote for their own candidate this year," Sadeq Mudaber, the JEMB’s co-director of operations, told RFE/RL.
In these last few days before the final list is announced, election officials are examining the candidates’ applications to make sure they meet the basic qualifications. The law requires each candidate to pay around $1,000 into a bank account set up to help pay for the election. They must also not have committed any crimes against humanity during the many years of unrest and war.
One of the most important requirements is for the 10,000 photocopies of voter-registration cards to prove a candidate has sufficient support to put him or her on the ballot. It’s not clear yet whether all of the candidates can meet this last requirement. And there are some concerns that candidates who could not collect enough photocopies may have obtained extra ones illegally.
While this type of possible abuse is difficult to prove, one presidential candidate from the Panjshir Valley was brazen in explaining what he did with some of the extra photocopies he gathered in support of his bid. Abdul Hafiz Mansur, a 40-year-old newspaper editor, said he turned in more than 10,000 photocopies, and had another use for the thousands more he did not need.
"We gave some of the extra ones to the [election] commission, just in case they say one is not correct. And we brought some back with us. We also gave some to other candidates, who were short of cards. I don’t want to name them," Mansur said.
The stories are starting to breed some cynicism among the electorate -- ahead of a vote considered crucial to the country’s democratic future.
Latif Pedram is a 42-year-old spokesman for the Afghan National Congress, a loose affiliation of political parties that oppose Karzai and his government. They are fielding their own presidential candidate.
Pedram said he is not surprised about the misuse of the photocopies, and said, in fact, he believes the whole process is crooked. By way of a joke, he compared it to a camel: "Well, this election has been against the law from the beginning. Somebody asked the camel, ’Why isn’t your neck straight?’ The camel replied, ’Which part of my body is straight?’ It will be illegal to the end."
Afghan Mujahidin refuses to be named warlord
KABUL, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Afghan former Planning Minister Hajji Mohammad Mohaqiq slammed on Friday the terminology of warlord as a foreign protgs' propaganda to defame the Mujahidin in the country.
"Labeling Mujahidin as warlord is a conspiracy to defame Mujahidin and pave the way for the victory of foreign protgs in the upcoming elections," Mohaqiq, a potential rival to the President Hamid Karzai in the race told a gathering of his supporters here.
Mujahidin or holy warriors is an Arabic word which is used by Afghans for those who defended the country against the Soviet Union in 1980s and then against the fundamentalist Taliban in last decade.
He made this comment amid increasing rift between the US-backed Afghan transitional government and former Northern Alliance commanders, most of them Mujahidin, after Karzai dropped the northern alliance leader Mohammad Qasim Fahim as his running mate on July 26.
"I had fought for 20 years against the former Soviet union and then against the extremist Taliban. I am not a warlord. I am a Mujahidin and I am proud of that," the presidential candidate said.
A considerable number of expatriate Afghans who returned from the United States and Europe now holding key posts in the Karzai- led cabinet are at loggerhead with the Mujahidin leaders in the US- backed transitional set up.
"When we were busy in evicting Soviet troops from the country and ousting Taliban from power, these so-called technocrats were serving at hotels in Europe and United States," he noted while referring to Afghan expatriates supporting Karzai in the race.
"We are proud of defeating the Great Britain, we are proud of defeating former Soviet Union and we are proud of defeating Taliban," Mohaqiq added amid applause from his supporters. He also urged people to participate in the election and elect the leadership of the country through ballots. Twenty two candidates are expected to contest against incumbent President Karzai in the first-ever presidential polls slated for October 9.
Americans reach out to Afghan children
Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- United States citizens have donated approximately 200 boxes of school supplies for Afghan children.
The goodwill project was started by a U.S. Air Force officer who sent an e-mail to a friend in the United States seeking support for Afghan children.
Soon, the e-mail was distributed across the country, generating a lot of interest among ordinary citizens in helping Afghan children.
Schools in Afghanistan remained closed for most of the more than 20 years of war and civil strife and reopened only after U.S. forces defeated the Taliban in December 2001.
The United States and its allies are providing financial help and technical assistance to Afghanistan to reestablish an education system destroyed during the war.
But Afghan officials say direct assistance from American citizens will go a long way in providing a moral boost to their efforts.
The U.S. Embassy will distribute the supplies Sunday among children in Kabul.
How al-Qaeda is tapping into the opium trade to finance its operations and destabilize Afghanistan
BY TIM MCGIRK | KABUL
Monday, Aug. 02, 2004
U.S. forces hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of the Taliban in late 2001 didn't worry much about elderly, pious-looking men like Haji Juma Khan. A towering tribesman from the Baluchistan desert near Pakistan, Khan was picked up that December near Kandahar and taken into U.S. custody. Though known to U.S. and Afghan officials as a drug trafficker, he seemed an insignificant catch. "At the time, the Americans were only interested in catching bin Laden and [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar," says a European counterterrorism expert in Kabul. "Juma Khan walked."
That decision has come back to haunt the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan. Western intelligence agencies believe that Khan has become the kingpin of a heroin-trafficking enterprise that is a principal source of funding for the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists. According to a Western antinarcotics official, since slipping out of Afghanistan after U.S. forces released him, Khan has helped al-Qaeda establish a smuggling network that is peddling Afghan heroin to buyers across the Middle East, Asia and Europe, and in turn is using the drug revenues to purchase weapons and explosives. A Western law-enforcement official in Kabul who is tracking Khan says that after a tip-off in May, agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan turned up evidence that Khan is employing a fleet of cargo ships to move Afghan heroin out of the Pakistani port of Karachi. The official says that on return trips from the Middle East, at least three vessels brought back arms, such as plastic explosives and antitank mines, which were secretly unloaded in Karachi and shipped overland to al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Khan is now a marked man. "He's obviously very tightly tied to the Taliban," says Robert Charles, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Mirwais Yasini, head of the Afghan government's Counter-Narcotics Directorate, says, "There are central linkages among Khan, Mullah Omar and bin Laden."
The emergence of Khan's network reflects the challenges the U.S. still faces in Afghanistan. Since ousting the Taliban in December 2001, the U.S. has struggled to hunt down al-Qaeda's leaders, disarm Afghanistan's warlords and shore up President Hamid Karzai against a revived Taliban-led insurgency. The renewed trade in opium has worsened all those problems. A recent World Bank report calculates that more than half of the country's economy is tied up in drugs. The combined income of farmers and in-country traffickers reached $2.23 billion last year—up from $1.3 billion in 2002. Heroin trafficking has long been the main source of funds for many local warlords' private armies, which continue to thwart Karzai's attempts to expand his authority beyond Kabul. But the drug trade is becoming even more dangerous: U.S. and British counterterrorism experts say al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies are increasingly financing operations with opium sales. Antidrug officials in Afghanistan have no hard figures on how much al-Qaeda and the Taliban are earning from drugs, but conservative estimates run into tens of millions of dollars.
Al-Qaeda's foray into drugs dates from the days when the Taliban ruled the country. Though most devout Muslims consider narcotics taboo, bin Laden never directly condemned drug sales. A Western antinarcotics official says that in early 2001 al-Qaeda's financial experts joined forces with Khan and other alleged top Afghan drug traffickers to persuade Taliban leader Omar to ban opium cultivation. The ban was self-serving: it drove up opium prices from $30 per kilogram to nearly $650. That meant huge profits for the Taliban and their trafficker friends who were sitting on large stockpiles when prices soared.
Neither the Taliban nor al-Qaeda actually grows opium poppy. Their involvement is higher up the drug chain, where profits are fatter and so is their cut of the deal. Yasini, the Afghan antidrug czar, says the terrorists receive a share of profits from heroin sales by supplying gunmen to protect labs and convoys. Recent busts have revealed evidence of al-Qaeda's ties to the trade. On New Year's Eve, a U.S. Navy vessel in the Arabian Sea stopped a small fishing boat that was carrying no fish. After a search, says a Western antinarcotics official, "they found several al-Qaeda guys sitting on a bale of drugs." In January, U.S. and Afghan agents raided a drug runner's house in Kabul and found a dozen or so satellite phones. The phones were passed to the CIA station in Kabul, which found they had been used to call numbers linked to suspected terrorists in Turkey, the Balkans and Western Europe. "It was an incredibly sophisticated network," says the official. In March U.S. troops searching a suspected terrorist hideout in Oruzgan province after a firefight found opium with an estimated street value of $15 million.
Antidrug officials say the only way to cut off al-Qaeda's pipeline is to attack it at the source: by destroying the poppy farms themselves. This year, Afghanistan's opium harvest is expected to exceed 3,600 tons—making it the biggest crop since 1999 and enough to produce street heroin worth $36 billion.
For their part, U.S. military commanders have been reluctant to commit the nearly 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to opium eradication, fearing that doing so would divert attention from the hunt for terrorists. Afghan officials say that several times last year U.S. special forces spotted suspicious convoys that appeared to be ferrying opium. Radioing in for orders, the special forces were told to leave the convoy alone and keep hunting for al-Qaeda, the Afghan officials say. A senior Afghan security official says the U.S. military doesn't want to jeopardize the help it receives from local commanders by seizing drug stashes or busting labs controlled by friendly warlords.
But the U.S. is finally starting to pay attention. Its ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has tapped top Drug Enforcement Administration official Harold D. ("Doug") Wankel to lead an intensified drive to nail kingpins, shut down heroin-production labs, eradicate poppy fields and persuade farmers to plant food crops. If the drug cartels aren't stopped, the U.S. fears, they could sow more chaos in Afghanistan, which al-Qaeda and the Taliban could exploit to wrest back power. "We need to make a difference in the next couple of years," says Wankel. Miwa Kato, a Kabul-based officer for the U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime, puts it this way: "The opium problem has the capacity to undo everything that's being done here to help the Afghans." Few outcomes would please America's enemies more.
Bin Laden's life with $5,000 bride
By Francis Elliott 08 August 2004 Independent Digital (UK)
Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard has provided a rare glimpse of the terror chief's private life. Nasir Ahmad Nasir al-Bahri, known as Abu Jandal, gave his first ever interview to a London-based Arabic newspaper on Tuesday.
He told them he believed Bin Laden still had three of his four wives with him in Afghanistan, including one for whom he paid a $5,000 dowry. The Yemeni told the newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi that he met the al-Qa'ida chief at the end of 1996 and became his personal bodyguard. Among his responsibilities was running two of the organisation's "guesthouses" in Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan.
He was also asked to supervise personally Bin Laden's fourth marriage in 2000 to a woman from Yemen, who remains with her fugitive husband.
"From what I know she is still with her husband, and so are his other three wives, except for his first wife, Umm-Abdullah, who left long before the incidents and did not return."
It is his description of the organisation's structure and decision-making that will interest the world's intelligence agencies, however. He said: "Al-Qa'ida pursues a method or principle that calls for the 'centralisation of decision and decentralisation of execution'. The decision was made centrally, but the method of attack and execution was the duty of field commanders."
He said that the body that "green-lighted" attacks on particular targets was called the "military affairs committee".
Interestingly the Yemeni denied that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is Bin Laden's lieutenant in Iraq. "Al-Qa'ida had expected the fall of the Iraqi regime, and many elements entered Iraq and are now fighting with the Iraqi resistance."
He said the organisation had not been penetrated by Western intelligence because Bin Laden chose his key lieutenants, or "elements", from the "steel and the fire".
"It is from within the battle that elements are chosen, and hypocrites and agents cannot join battlefronts."
Rebuilding Afghan pupils' dreams
The Yomiuri Shimbun
All thanks to the efforts of a construction company owner from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, a badly needed schoolhouse is rising from the rubble in a small village in the east of war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Mitsuhiro Kanemoto, 61, has donated the majority of the funds for the project with money he raised to help the children of Qara-i-wazir, about 10 kilometers south of Kabul.
The old school was reduced to ruins during the country's civil war. The new building is scheduled to be completed this week.
Currently, the village's 2,200 school-aged children have to attend classes in three shifts a day at houses in the village that still sport bullet holes.
There is not enough space to accommodate the students indoors. Therefore, they often sit outside under the scorching sun.
Kanemoto visited Qara-i-wazir in June and saw firsthand the enthusiasm of the students toward study despite inadequate facilities.
"When I grow up, I want to be a doctor," one of the students told him.
"I want to be a teacher," another said.
Kanemoto said he knew at that moment it was necessary to build a school in the village.
The overall budget for the project was about 6 million yen, of which Kanemoto donated about 4 million yen he had raised over the past five years.
He also received assistance from a nonprofit organization based in Osaka called Network Earth Village, which assists refugees and provides support for environmental projects.
The building will be made of brick and will stand on 400 square meters of land beside the houses that now serve as makeshift classrooms.
But the new building's 10 rooms will not provide enough space for all the students, so Kanemoto and Network Earth Village are seeking donations and holding events, such as bazaars, to raise money for a second building.
Kanemoto began collecting money for impoverished nations about 20 years ago. At first, he said he felt the Japanese public knew little of the problems people in developing or war-torn nations faced and each event he held brought in less than 100,000 yen.
But after about 16 years, Kanemoto managed to accumulate about 10 million yen and donated the entire sum to Rwanda, which at the time was just recovering from a civil war.
About five years ago, he started collecting money to fund a new school as tangible evidence of his efforts. He chose Qara-i-wazir after seeing footage of Afghanistan while he was looking for a place to build a school.
To donate money for a second building in the village, call Kanemoto's firm, Sanyo Home Co., on (047) 386-0221 (Japanese only).
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