The article below is from the ABC and discusses Australian SAS war crimes in Afghanistan. War is not a game, real people die. No-one thinks deeply about the real suffering for families of each death, how terror impacts communities and the reality that violence cannot bring peace no matter how you dress it up. Only peace brings peace.
All violence has the same root, powerlessness. The destruction of war or violence deepens powerlessness which expands violence. It is a formula that has never been about peace, it has always been endless war as men believe force works. War is an imbalance with our true nature.
Immediately looking at the story below I contemplate the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC. The person of interest was David McBride, an SAS officer who was raising concerns about military abuses and as a lawyer investigating humanitarian law.
This issue is a murky one in the sense that where is the line drawn in respect of lawful killing. I always feel uneasy with the words ‘lawful killing’ contrasted to the situation when civilians are arrested and jailed if they commit murder. Yet in the military setting they have safeguards as they are in the business of killing. They use buzz words such as national security, defending democracy, ridding the war of terrorism when it is evident through important whistle-blowers that the wars are not about defence but oil interests. It is evident that there is a revolving door into government by commercial interests who are making money out of disasters, a term coined ‘disaster capitalism’. Disaster capitalism makes clear that defence contractors are paid in one day what a regular soldier makes in one week and do not have government oversight at all. The large military industrial complex is embedded in government as contractors alongside government employees with high level secret clearances. This is called the ‘deep state’.
My heart goes to the Afghan citizens who have experienced decades of heart wrenching abuse, who are the poorest people on the planet and who have suffered like no other with no outpouring of compassion for their plight. They have experienced their families murdered, Taliban oppression, harassment and murder of women who break (in their eyes) sharia law, they witness their country invaded, ransacked, polluted with depleted uranium and turned to rubble with no legal consequence. They have been so hungry that they eat grass and dirt. The perpetuated violence was the continuance of the cold war orchestrated by elements in the United States attempting to create another Vietnam for Russia. The CIA paid mercenaries (extremists) to come in to Afghanistan and fight the Russians. The violent war lords had no allegiance other than to money were ruthless in their violation of human rights, executions and exploitation. This country which was once a peaceful country where families were incredibly close, poetry and music was their entertainment as they survived the harshest winters and invaders to become a hardy people. Their innocence was shattered.
I recall Donald Rumsfeld regarding Afghanistan as not a good target as it was a pile of rocks. He wanted more spectacular targets to feel he was fighting a real war and could test out weaponry. Thus, we are not talking responsible leadership focused on the noble vision of securing peace and security, but rather an cold and calculated interest in perpetuating violence without any regard for civilians using the name of national security which is today code for commercial interests who have co-opted the US government through donations or political status. It was Scott Ritter, the former weapons inspector in Iraq who stated the US was engaged in an illegitimate war of aggression. The same applied to Afghanistan. He was critical of John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister who he regarded as turning Australian into the 51st State of the US. He advised for us to take down the Australian flag and hoist up the US flag. Thus, Australian military activities in Afghanistan are under the command of the US and the real issue is under humanitarian law how are civilians (unarmed) protected.
Refer my recordings of Scott Ritter at the University of Melbourne: https://www.worldpeacefull.com/peace-journalism/
This link is how a few US Generals viewed the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/04/donald-rumsfeld-iraq-war
The Australian government followed US policy and entered Afghanistan to fight ‘terrorism’. The close ‘oil’ relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family and the revelations about the Clinton Foundation and Isis funded by the Saudi’s, suggests the interests having nothing to do with the public interest but are commercial profiting from conflict. The fact that the Saudi’s funded the US invasion of Afghanistan matching dollar for dollar (see Charlie Wilson’s war) reveals foreign interference and collaboration with other agenda’s playing out. The US nationally promoted the cold war fight with Russia and ironically the Taliban went to Texas to meet with Unocol to construct a gas pipeline. The profits from the deal between oil barons, the US government and the Taliban provided material aid to an extremist regime (created by the war with Russia) that violated human rights justified by extreme Islam. The Taliban hung people in Kabul stadium, religious police raids, oppressed and stoned women to death and applied harsh punishments for anyone violating Sharia law.
The is the “pink elephant” in the room where all look the other way, it is the profit that matters not the human rights of people. Torture emerges from the same indifference to humanity that is profiled in the psychopath. I always remember Bill Clinton’s announcement of decoupling of human rights from trade (as a red flag) and later the US exited the UN Human Rights Council as a statement of ‘who they have become’. That should alarm the Australian government given the Australian people’s values and what we regard as the very basis of democratic principles and the rule of law. This demonstrates a culture of violent abuse that is called business as usual, as it is profit that matters not human life. Does this make America great? I am sure Abraham Lincoln would turn in his grave as life, liberty and happiness is distorted for the benefit of the few not the many.
Afghanistan is the poorest country on earth and was used for a proxy war benefiting commercial interests without any regard for civilians. There has been no compassion for these long suffering people who survived against the odds. They would see the great evil in the West as their country was polluted with depleted uranium, villages bombed, civilians addicted to heroin, women turning to prostitution and an illegal child trafficking trade. They are a beautiful and kind people, very humble and simple who had no defence against forces greedily seeking their resources and not standing in nobility to protect an abused people. The greed is a core issue.
The most important issue in this sad tale is the US shadow government and deep state has to be put on the global agenda and referred to the International Criminal Court for ‘crimes against humanity’. These are unaccountable powerful organisations, corporations and non profits engaged in illegal endless wars, the drug trade, guns and trafficking. Kevin Shipp (former CIA) stated Hillary Clinton heads up ‘a criminal cartel’ in Washington D.C.. This must be investigated in an international court of law. Otherwise the dark intelligence war becomes one of assassinations to silence whistle-blowers furthering the targeted killing of civilians rather than justice. Refer https://www.fortheloveoffreedom.net/
As a peacemaker it is vital that the truth comes out if peace is what we truly desire for our children and grandchildren. Yes, it can be scary as those who feel threatened will use legal or bullying means to silence others. The rule of law by neutral judges holding the real scales of justice must be the nonviolent pathway that leads to peace and reconciliation as accountability is central to trust in government. This has to be done as the violence is ‘not who we are’ as we become awakened to the fact that we live in a global village where not only are we each others keepers (responsible for each other) but to know ‘what you do to another returns to the self’ (universal law). For those who believe they are fighting for a higher power I can assure you that power is love as truth. Denial and powerlessness stays silent in the shadows. True power is the love that shines the light on the darkest corner, for even those languishing in ignorance and hatred are calling for the light of change. Karma can only be removed by unconditional love. So there is a way out of darkness.
My last point is I want my country to become sovereign and protect the civilians interests not follow the unofficial licence to abuse and murder civilians in illegitimate wars that do not benefit our country. May those in positions of power find the wisdom to Advance Australia fair for the highest good of all. Australia could position itself as a mediators not accomplice in crimes against the people. What stops them bringing this behaviour to Australian citizens when oppression orders a crack down and criminalises dissent? We must all remain vigilant to the wolf in sheep’s clothing or the smiling assassin.
It is the truth that sets us free. ‘us’ has two meanings.
They are Australia’s elite special forces, the lethal operatives of the Special Air Service Regiment, the SAS.
For years, the secrets about what they did in the valleys, fields and mud villages of Afghanistan have remained hidden.
Former SAS operative Braden Chapman first deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, when the brutal conflict there was in its 11th year.
With a major inquiry soon to report on suspected war crimes, Chapman, who was on many covert missions, has decided to speak out about what he saw.
He said he witnessed soldiers in SAS patrols commit executions in cold blood.
A Four Corners investigation has uncovered a culture of impunity and cover-up within the SAS.
“When you’re back at the unit, people would make jokes about the size of the rug that they’ve swept everything under, and that one day it’ll all come out and people are going to be thrown in jail for murder or anything else that they’ve done,” Chapman said.
Attached to 3 Squadron SAS as a signals intelligence officer, Chapman’s mission was to track Taliban targets.
He said there was a “buzz of elitism” being part of the SAS.
“It is the best thing you could do for your career to go to that unit, especially when you’re a lower rank and you’re actually gonna get to do a lot of hands-on stuff.”
But he was soon shocked at the behaviour of some of his comrades.
“They’re going to look back and see that we were the guys in there murdering people, and invading, and not there to do something that is honourable,” he said.
‘Almost like target practice’
In May 2012, Chapman was on patrol with 3 Squadron SAS in a village.
The unit was moving towards a target building, when they saw an Afghan man leave the area.
“When we got to within maybe 20 to 30 metres away and he saw us, he quickly grabbed his phone from his pocket and he threw it. And at that stage he stopped. He put his hands up just like that, then just stood there,” Chapman said.
“As we got closer to him, the soldier then just fired and hit him twice in the chest and then shot him through the head as he walked past him.”
Chapman said the soldier was an experienced member of 3 Squadron SAS.
“I was only 5 to 10 metres behind him at the time,” he said.
“The visual image to me was, the guy had his hands up and then it was almost like target practice for that soldier.”
Chapman was ordered to go through the dead Afghan man’s pockets.
Another Australian patrol with an assault dog then arrived at the scene.
3 Squadron SAS soldiers during deployment in Afghanistan in 2012.
“It [the dog] actually came and started chewing on the head of the man who’d been shot. And I remember looking to the dog handler and saying, ‘Can you get this thing away from it,’ because it was pretty gruesome,” Chapman said.
“And he’s just like, ‘Oh, let him have a taste.'”
Chapman said the killing by his fellow SAS patrol member disturbed him greatly.
“In my books, it’s murder.”
Just days later the helmet camera of another SAS operator captured members of 3 Squadron discussing the soldier who had killed the Afghan man with his hands up.
“F***ing bullshit. Not happy with it.”
“[The soldier is] a brother, but, ‘Bash who I want. Shoot at whoever. Kill a kid. Oh well, just keep shooting c***s.'”
The soldier who shot the man is still serving in the special forces.
During the same month, a 3 Squadron SAS patrol was searching for an insurgent bombmaker when another unlawful killing took place.
The patrol’s dog handler and another SAS soldier, who Four Corners has called Soldier C, were headed towards a mud compound when a young Afghan man in his 20s was spotted in a wheat field by one of the Black Hawk helicopters ahead.
What happened next was captured on a helmet camera.
Soldier C aims his assault rifle at the Afghan man.
The man is cowering on the ground and appears to only have a set of red prayer beads in his right hand.
Soldier C turns to the dog handler and asks: “You want me to drop this c***?”
The dog handler tells him to ask the patrol commander.
Soldier C then asks the same question twice to the patrol commander, whose response is inaudible on the video.
Within seconds, Soldier C squeezes the trigger and the bullet tears into the Afghan man on the ground.
The Australian shoots him twice more and then walks off.
Chapman was not aware of this shooting until Four Corners showed him the video, but knows the identity of the soldiers involved.
“He’s asked someone of a superior rank what he should do. But it comes down to the soldier pulling the trigger. It’s a straight-up execution.”
The killing of the civilian, identified as Dad Mohammad, was later investigated by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), after Afghan tribal elders complained.
Soldier C told ADF investigators he had killed the Afghan man because he had been seen with a radio.
He also said he shot the young man from 15 to 20 metres away, in self-defence.
But the video shows he was fewer than two metres away while the man was lying on the ground.
The ADF investigators concluded that Dad Mohammad was lawfully killed because he posed a direct threat to the Australians.
Four Corners can reveal that Soldier C is still serving in the special forces.
As part of a major inquiry into allegations of war crimes within the special forces in Afghanistan, the Inspector-General of the ADF is investigating whether it was common practice to plant radios on bodies.
Chapman said throughout his deployment, there was systematic use of planted weapons and radios to justify killings.
“I did see plenty that were planted,” the former soldier said.
“They definitely got them off somebody else and walked over and sat it next to a body.”
Chapman said weapons were also planted on dead Afghans.
“Other members of my troop back in Australia, they did use to joke about how the same serial number [of a gun] was in every single photo of a dead Afghani,” he said.
“So, you know, inferring that somebody was planting these AK-47s.”
‘Someone’s lied giving evidence’
Another incident that still haunts Braden Chapman involved the death of an elderly Afghan man, Haji Sardar, during a raid on the village of Sarkhume in mid-March 2012.
Chapman is the only Australian witness to speak publicly about what happened to Haji Sardar.
He said Haji Sardar was initially shot in the leg by the SAS-led patrol.
An Australian medic helped patch up the wound, which was not life-threatening.
A senior SAS soldier then took the injured man away.
“Some time later he came back and our medic asked him, ‘What happened, where is he?’ Because he’d worked on him, he [the medic] considered him his patient. And then he [the soldier] just…shook his head and said, ‘He didn’t make it.'”
Chapman said the SAS medic was upset, because he believed the man had been killed.
“He was just saying that the man, he was fine. There was no way he would have died, and he knew that the soldier had killed him,” he said.
After complaints by villagers, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found Haji Sardar had been beaten to death by an Australian soldier.
“Haji Sardar was first injured and then taken away for investigation and died as a result of torture,” said AIHRC chairwoman Shaharzad Akbar.
AIHRC chairwoman Shaharzad Akbar and Haji Sardar after he was killed.
Australian Defence Force investigators later determined that Haji Sardar had been carrying a weapon and that his killing was lawful.
AIHRC was told by villagers that Haji Sardar was an unarmed civilian.
“I’d say that someone’s lied giving evidence because there’s no way that you can justify an execution,” Chapman said.
Four Corners has obtained hours of footage shot by members of 3 Squadron SAS during the unit’s 2012 rotation through Afghanistan.
It shows the destruction of buildings, motorbikes and the shooting of dogs.
“We try and say that we’re there to help and the Taliban are bad. But if we go in and we start destroying infrastructure or destroying their private vehicles and burning down their homes it doesn’t really send the right message,” Chapman said.
“They’re going to run straight back to the Taliban, who usually are not doing that.”
Potential for war crimes charges
Braden Chapman’s squadron and its time in Afghanistan in 2012 are of key interest to the Inspector-General’s investigation.
Glenn Kolomeitz, a former special operations lawyer for the ADF in Afghanistan, said the special forces were highly trained in the rules of war.
“These guys were given training throughout their work,” he said.
“[There’s] no excuse in terms of the training as provided and the understanding, absolutely.”
Mr Kolomeitz said he believed there was potential for charges to be laid under the war crime murder provisions of the Commonwealth criminal code.
“We have obligations at international law, domestic law, and indeed moral obligations, to not ignore these sorts of allegations,” he said.
3 Squadron SAS successfully captured many targets during its deployment in 2012.
Chapman said the unlawful killings he witnessed may constitute war crimes, and he believes the soldiers responsible deserve to go to jail.
“I just want the truth to come out, and people who did commit crimes to be held accountable,” he said.
He said he also believed officers who ran the special forces should wear some of the blame.
“It is a culture issue as well, and these incidents that are happening would filter through to them. They know what’s going on over there,” he said.
Chapman said a strict code of silence was observed by members of the regiment.
He said he learned this early on in his deployment when talking with one of the more experienced operators.
“He said to me, ‘I hope you’re ready and prepared for this deployment because you need to make sure that you’re OK with me putting a gun to someone’s head and pulling the trigger. Because I don’t want to read about it in 10 or so years.'”
Chapman said that soldier was the one who later dragged the wounded Haji Sardar away before he was found allegedly beaten to death.
For Chapman, speaking out is his chance to atone for staying silent about what he witnessed in Afghanistan.
He believes even if he had made a complaint at the time, it would have gone “nowhere”.
“I didn’t break any rules of engagement,” he said.
“But I feel now that even if it had ruined my career back then, I probably should have made that complaint.
“It’s definitely affected me. You try to look back at your career, try and be proud of it, but then you’ve got all these incidents. You see yourself as part of the bad guys.”
Defence did not answer Four Corners’ questions about particular incidents involving the killing of Afghans.
In a statement, it said the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force was investigating “whether there is any substance to rumour and allegations” about possible war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
It said the inquiry was ongoing.