On July 14th, Australian outlet ABC released a report on Australian special forces allegedly carrying out various war crimes.
This is another report, in what appears to be, a somewhat regular, series.
In the newest report, the outlet alleges, based on testimony and videos that the Australian SAS allegedly planted the same weapon on the bodies of two different Afghan civilians after a raid in which locals say unarmed civilians were executed.
An AK-47 assault rifle with teal-coloured tape wrapped around the stock was photographed next to two bodies in separate locations and logged in the special forces database after the raid at the village of Shina in May 2012.
The operation by members of 3 Squadron SAS left three Afghans dead, with the special forces claiming they were all insurgents and legitimately killed.
According to ABC’s unnamed sources, one of the killed individuals was Taliban, the other two were civilians.
ABC spoke to several members who served on that 2012 special forces rotation of Afghanistan who say that so-called “throwdowns”, such as assault rifles and radios, were often used to cover up unlawful killings.
“Often people who had been killed had weapons placed on them and [they were] photographed with these weapons,” said an SAS patrol member who served on that special forces rotation of Afghanistan.
“That happened on numerous occasions.”
ABC even hired an Afghan journalist to visit the village of Shina and interview residents and investigate what had transpired back in 2012.
Relatives of two of the men killed that day say both were civilians and were shot in cold blood by the Australians.
Abdul Wali said the Australians landed in one helicopter near his family home and in another helicopter near the village reservoir.
“They had gloves on and their faces were camouflaged with green and other colours. They were unidentifiable.”
Abdul Wali is the son of Abdul Wahid – a man in his 80s, who was allegedly killed by the Australian SAS.
“They called on my father and my father went towards them along with another elder, Mr Aminullah,” said Abdul Wali.
“They were together at the time when they went towards them … and they shot [my father].”
According to his testimony, the soldiers shot his father in the neck and abdomen.
Another resident – Sakhi Daad said he was irrigating his wheat when the Black Hawk helicopters landed. According to his story, all the men of the village were detained and put in a compound.
“We were all handcuffed and they had guns. They told us not to look at each other,” said Sakhi Daad.
“After a while shots were fired on the other side [of the compound].”
After a while, the soldiers freed the Afghans and left them return, where they found three bodies.
One of them was his brother-in-law, Jan Mohammad.
“He was 20 years old, he was engaged, and he wasn’t married yet. He wasn’t able to work because his brain didn’t work properly,” said Sakhi Daad.
“He was mentally ill.”
He said when the Australian soldiers arrived, Jan Mohammad was grazing a cow.
“When the cow heard the helicopters, it ran and he ran after it,” he said.
“Soldiers came his way … and saw him running. I don’t know what they thought, that maybe he is a Talib and running away or a civilian that is running away. They shot him straight away in the head.”
The third Afghan allegedly killed in the SAS raid was the imam of the local mosque, Muhibullah.
Abdul Wali says the killing of his father was unforgivable.
“He was on his own land. He never stole or did anything bad to anyone. He was an elderly person. This is impossible to forgive and I won’t forgive it,” he said.
“I want [the Australians] to be tried,” said Sakhi Daad. “If the government cares about us, if they care about our widows and orphans, then they must summon them and try them in the court.”
Also, in 2012, evidence surfaced of Australian SAS carrying out a mass shooting of civilians in Kandahar Province.
The raid is believed to be the worst one-day death toll uncovered to date of alleged unlawful killings by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Up to 10 unarmed civilians were allegedly killed.
Afghan witnesses and Australian sources have told the ABC that the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) operation left a number of Taliban dead. But also allegedly left many civilians dead.
Below is the testimony of a local farmer named Rahmatullah:
“First, when the helicopters landed, they started with the Taliban. They also shot other people who were there as well. The tractor moved from the area because they were scared.”
“[They] shot them at the tractor. They were shooting people intentionally. They were mass shooting,” Rahmatullah said.
“Then some people busy with irrigation were shot, some were shot near the onions. Some people went in the tractor and they were shot in the tractor,” Mohammad Nassim, another villager said.
The Australian Inspector General is preparing a report on SAS activities such as this and it appears to be taking a while.
The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force has spent the past four years investigating rumours and allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
An Australian Defence Force spokesperson said: “It is not appropriate for Defence to comment on matters that may or may not be the subject of the Afghanistan Inquiry.”