ENTERTAINMENT

Army chief "sick" on allegations 25 villainous Australian soldiers murdered Afghan citizens


The Australian army chief was "shocked" and "sick" by allegations that special forces soldiers allegedly murdered 39 Afghan citizens while touring the war-torn country.

The damned results were set out in an important report on alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan released last Thursday.

The four-year investigation found a "shameful record" of unlawful murders that took place outside of the "heat of battle".

This included cases where new patrol members were ordered to shoot a prisoner in order to achieve their first kill in an "appalling practice" known as "bleeding".

Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr said for 60 minutes on Sunday evening that he was surprised by the details of the report.

Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr said he was "shocked" and "sick" with allegations that Australian Special Forces soldiers murdered 39 Afghan citizens

“Oh, I was sick. I was sick. I was shocked by the extent of the alleged illegal activity described in the report, ”he said.

“This is absolutely not what I expect from anyone in our army, anywhere in our army at any time, and why I am so determined to lead our army through this place to a better place.

"We can formally continue the journey we have been on since 2015 to strengthen our army, strengthen the culture, leadership and accountability of our organization in order to regain that trust."

Lieutenant General Burr announced that he had "heard nothing" of the war crimes allegations within the unit.

"If I had I would have reported them absolutely," he said.

& # 39; That's shocking. When we look back on our history, many commanders on many levels wonder how this happened. & # 39;

The decorated war hero said the investigation report was doing

The decorated war hero said the investigation report made it "very clear" that some soldiers went to great lengths to hide illegal acts

Lieutenant General Burr announced that he was aware of allegations of war crimes within the unit

Lieutenant General Burr announced that he had "heard nothing" of the war crimes allegations within the unit. Pictured with Secretary of Defense Christopher Pyne (left)

The decorated war hero said the investigation report made it "very clear" that some soldiers went to great lengths to hide illegal acts.

"Leaders at all levels are asking these very questions … To find out now that they have been lied to … That the truth has been withheld from their own commanders is really devastating," he said.

"It is morally destructive for this behavior to continue in our own organization."

Lieutenant General Burr also announced that he had dismissed two soldiers from the Special Air Services Regiment immediately after the report was published.

& # 39; It was a very grim opportunity as I personally brought the news (of the results) to you and took the very crucial action of removing two SAS squadrons from the order of battle, both as a practical and very real statement about it How serious it is. So we hold ourselves accountable, ”he said.

Australian soldiers are accused of murdering 39 people in Afghanistan and treating prisoners with cruelty (Image: Soldiers in Afghanistan)

Australian soldiers are accused of murdering 39 people in Afghanistan and treating prisoners with cruelty (Image: Soldiers in Afghanistan)

One of the murders was described in the report as "possibly the most shameful episode in Australian military history", but the details have been completely revised (Image: Chapter 2.50 of the Afghanistan investigation report).

One of the murders was described in the report as "possibly the most shameful episode in Australian military history", but the details have been completely revised (Image: Chapter 2.50 of the Afghanistan investigation report).

One particular incident, which was fully edited in the report, has been described as "possibly the most shameful episode in Australian military history".

The 465-page document, which attributes part of the killings to a "warrior-hero" culture among the special forces, recommended 19 people to be investigated and called for major reforms of the Australian military.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of the National Reconciliation of the High Council in Afghanistan, slammed the alleged killings.

& # 39; There is no way to define this brutality. There is no way to explain what happened. It is incomprehensible, ”said Abdullah to the Anadolu agency.

“These are crimes against innocent people and I was shocked. At the same time, the Australian government made it very clear what happened.

'There has been a thorough investigation into the cases and they have all the details of it. And there is an obligation to prosecute those responsible. & # 39;

After September 11, more than 26,000 Australian workers were sent to Afghanistan to join the US and allied forces in fighting the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other groups.

DISTRIBUTING DETAILS CLAIMED IN THE REPORT:

Bleeding: There was evidence that junior soldiers were being ordered by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner in a practice known as "bleeding" in order to obtain their first kill.

Throwdowns: Credible evidence suggests that some soldiers carried out "drops" in which they gave weapons and military equipment to a victim in order to create the appearance that the person killed was a legitimate target.

In the past few years, a number of often brutal reports of the behavior of elite special forces have surfaced – from reports of troops killing a six-year-old child in a house attack to a prisoner shot for space in a house to save helicopters.

Another incident involved two 14-year-old boys who were stopped by SAS and decided they might be Taliban sympathizers.

The boy's throats were allegedly cut and their bodies packed and thrown into a nearby river.

Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian Defense Forces, said some Australian patrols "took the law into their own" adding that "rules were broken, stories made up, lies told and prisoners killed".

General Campbell said "none of the alleged unlawful murders has been described as being in the heat of battle".

One of the murders was described in the report as "possibly the most shameful episode in Australian military history," but details have been completely revised.

"I cannot speak to the particular circumstances," said General Campbell.

& # 39; That's why it's being edited. But Justice Brereton describes something that is utterly shameful. It is true that it must be legally edited. In time, in the time of the story to be written, it becomes shameful. & # 39;

He apologized for the unlawful killing of prisoners, farmers and other civilians, adding that the troops involved had "tainted" Australia.

On another page it simply says: "Pages 365-519 (inclusive) have been removed for security, privacy and legal reasons."

"I sincerely and unreservedly apologize to the people of Afghanistan on behalf of the Australian Armed Forces for the misconduct of Australian soldiers," he said.

"And I am truly sorry for the people of Australia that the Australian Defense Forces did something wrong."

A number of often brutal reports of the behavior of elite special forces have surfaced in recent years. Pictured: body camera recordings from Australian SAS forces in Afghanistan

A number of often brutal reports of the behavior of elite special forces have surfaced in recent years. Pictured: body camera recordings from Australian SAS forces in Afghanistan

He went on to outline how the "egocentric warrior culture" had led to "cutting corners, ignoring rules and bending them".

& # 39; Cutting corners, ignoring rules and bending has been normalized. What also turned out was a toxic competitiveness between the end of the Second Command Regiment through the Special Air Service Regiment, ”he said.

The Inspector General of the Australian Defense Forces has been investigating allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan since 2016.

In four years Justice Paul Brereton interviewed more than 400 witnesses and examined tens of thousands of documents.

Judge Brereton found there was credible evidence of 23 incidents in which a total of 39 Afghan nationals were illegally killed.

He identified two other cases where prisoners were cruelly treated by elite Australian forces.

Some of the Afghan nationals killed did not participate in hostilities, while the majority were prisoners of war.

Justice Brereton identified 25 current or former ADF employees who are alleged to have committed one or more war crimes.

The report covered the period from 2005 to 2016, but almost all incidents detected occurred between 2009 and 2013.

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (pictured) released the report Thursday and blew the culture in the SAS

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (pictured) released the report Thursday and blew the culture in the SAS

Judge Brereton also noted that there was credible evidence that some soldiers carried "throws down" such as guns and military equipment to create the appearance that the person killed was a legitimate target

Judge Brereton also noted that there was credible evidence that some soldiers carried "throws down" such as guns and military equipment to create the appearance that the person killed was a legitimate target

"None of these are incidents of controversial decisions taken under pressure in the heat of battle," the report said.

"The cases where it has been established that there is credible information about a war crime are those in which it was clear or should have been that the person killed was a non-combatant."

Dozens of other investigated allegations could not be substantiated.

Judge Brereton also noted that there was credible evidence that some soldiers carried "throws down" such as guns and military equipment to create the appearance that the person killed was a legitimate target.

There was also evidence that junior soldiers were ordered by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner in a practice known as "bleeding" in order to achieve their first kill.

"Usually the patrol commander takes a person under control and the junior member … is then instructed to kill the person under control," the report said.

"Throwdowns" – weapons, radios, or other equipment – were placed with the body and a "cover story" was created to allow operational coverage and distract control.

The investigation has recommended that the Chief Defense Officer refer 36 cases to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation.

The report recommended that administrative action be taken against some ADF employees who had credible evidence of wrongdoing but who did not qualify for criminal convictions

The report recommended that administrative action be taken against some ADF employees who had credible evidence of wrongdoing but who did not qualify for criminal convictions

It was also recommended that Australia compensate the families of the illegally killed Afghans without waiting for prosecution

It was also recommended that Australia compensate the families of the illegally killed Afghans without waiting for prosecution

The issues relate to 23 incidents and affect 19 people.

Justice Brereton blamed the patrol commanders most, believing they were most responsible for inciting or directing subordinates to commit war crimes.

"At the level of the patrol commanders, criminal behavior was conceived, committed, continued and concealed, and at this level the responsibility rests predominantly," the report said.

The report also points the finger at high-ranking SAS personalities who have "adopted or promoted" a so-called "warrior culture" adopted by some patrol commanders.

"Special forces operators should take pride in being exemplary professional soldiers, not being warrior heroes," says the judge.

The Inspector General of the Australian Defense Forces has been investigating allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan since 2016.

Main findings of the report:

  • Special forces were responsible for 39 unlawful murders, most of which were prisoners and deliberately covered up.
  • Thirty-nine Afghans were illegally killed in 23 incidents, either by special forces or on the orders of special forces.
  • None of the murders took place in the heat of battle.
  • All murders occurred in circumstances that, if accepted by a jury, would constitute a war crime of murder.
  • 25 perpetrators were identified either as clients or as accessories. Some are still serving in the ADF.

Earlier this year, ABC's Four Corner program broadcast footage of a SAS agent who shot dead an unarmed Afghan man clutching prayer beads in what another soldier called a "direct execution".

The footage was captured by a dog handler's helmet camera in the village of Deh Jawz-e Hasanzai and shows the soldier aiming his assault rifle from just a few meters away.

The video was shot in May 2012 after a German shepherd dog from the Australian Army chased an Afghan in a wheat field.

You can hear an Australian soldier ask if I should drop this c ** t before he opens fire on the man.

While a previous military investigation revealed that the shooting was used in self-defense, the footage caused widespread outrage.

The incident was one of the first reports to point to the brutality of the special forces.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously announced that a special investigator will pursue possible criminal prosecutions.

The position is not yet filled.

Morrison told Australians last week to prepare for the "honest and brutal truths" in the document and called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to warn of "intrusive allegations" which the government is taking "very seriously." .

Ghani's office said Morrison had "expressed his deepest sadness over the wrongdoing".

The report recommended that administrative action be taken against some ADF employees who have credible evidence of wrongdoing but who are insufficient to convict them.

It was also recommended that Australia compensate the families of the illegally killed Afghans without waiting for prosecution.

"This will be an important step in restoring Australia's international standing, especially with Afghanistan, and it is just the right thing."

The investigation also recommended that some individuals and groups be exempted from various service medals.

"It must be said that what this report reveals is a shame and a profound betrayal of the professional standards and expectations of the Australian Defense Forces," the report said.

& # 39; We started this investigation with the hope that we can report that the war crimes rumors were without substance.

“Neither of us wanted the result we came to. We are all diminished by it. & # 39;

Former Prime Minister John Howard said he still felt entitled to send Australian troops to war.

When asked whether he regretted sending Australian troops to the Middle East after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Howard said he had "no regrets".

"I don't regret this decision, it was the right decision," he told 9News.

“But of course it has to be absolutely condemned and I can understand the revolution that people are feeling. I feel it. & # 39;

Major General Paul Brereton's investigation suggests prosecutors should have a "hierarchy of criminal liability".

He recommends that newer recruits ordered to kill in "bloody" rituals remain free from law enforcement in order to give testimony during potential war crimes trials.

The report found evidence that junior soldiers were ordered by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner in a practice known as "bleeding" in order to achieve their first murder.

Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said Al Jazeera's Afghan victims deserved swift and independent justice for the "deliberate and cold-blooded murders."

Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian Defense Forces (pictured), apologized for the unlawful killing of prisoners, farmers and other civilians

Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian Defense Forces (pictured), apologized for the unlawful killing of prisoners, farmers and other civilians

The investigation also recommended that some individuals and groups be exempted from various service medals

The investigation also recommended that some individuals and groups be exempted from various service medals

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “When we talk about accountability, it shouldn't just stop with the people who pulled the trigger and killed those people in Afghanistan.

“This is also about command responsibility, so I think it is very important that those who knew or should have known are also held accountable and criminally liable for these acts.

“Because, ultimately, this was a culture where murders were normalized and, in some cases, encouraged. This culture really needs to change. & # 39;

Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds said Friday the worrying allegations of "outright murder and war crimes" had made her "physically ill".

However, as the pressure on the personnel of the Australian armed forces has increased, high-ranking military and politicians who failed to recognize the potential red flags during the long operation have also undergone a new examination.

Australian Governor General David Hurley, who headed the ADF in the commission of the alleged war crimes, offered condolences to the families of the Afghan victims.

He said the "unforgivable atrocities" were "committed by a small number of people and intentionally hidden from immediate chains of command."

& # 39; As Chief of Defense between July 2011 and June 2014, I am deeply disappointed that the ADF investigations and investigations into civilian victims that I commissioned did not reveal the existence of the alleged crimes, a large number of whom were combat victims Operations reports were hidden in it, ”he said.

Mat Tinkler, Deputy General Manager of Save the Children Australia, said the release of the report was welcome and that subsequent law enforcement actions were vital in ensuring accountability and justice for the violations.

"We know that all wars are wars against children, but it is really devastating to learn that Australian soldiers have committed atrocities against children," he told AAP.

"Australia's resolute response to these hideous results will demonstrate our nation's commitment to upholding international humanitarian law, including the protection of children at war."

The Alleged Crimes: A Timeline

2006

* First alleged murder of a wounded Afghan prisoner

2009

* Alleged murders of Afghan locals by ADF members through the complicity of the patrol commander

2010

* Alleged attack and cruel treatment of the Afghan prisoner

* Alleged murders of Afghan prisoners, complicit in the patrol commander, and deletion of evidence to hide murders

2012

* Various cases of alleged civilian murders by Australian soldiers

* Multiple alleged murders of prisoners and the use of throwdowns to hide murders

* Alleged murders of Afghan locals surrendering to Australian forces

* Alleged attack and cruel treatment of the Afghan prisoner

* Alleged killings of Afghan combatants who were separated from their weapons

2013

* Alleged murder of civilians

* Alleged murder of prisoners

2016

* The ADF inspector general asked to investigate rumors of wrongdoing and war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan

* Judge Paul Brereton and his team interviewed more than 400 witnesses and examined tens of thousands of documents during the four-year review

2020

* Justice Brereton closes the investigation

* Defense chief Angus Campbell published a heavily edited version of the final report

* Credible Evidence 25 current and former ADF employees have committed war crimes

* 19 allegations were expelled from the Australian Federal Police for possible prosecution

* 39 Afghans are said to have been murdered by Australian troops between 2006 and 2016

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) News (t) Scott Morrison (t) Afghanistan