‘Rogue’ SAS unit executed civilians during night time raids court papers say

'ROGUE' SAS UNIT EXECUTED CIVILIANS DURING NIGHT TIME RAIDS COURT PAPERS SAY

Newly-released documents in a British court claim there were 33 killings of Afghan nationals on 11 raids by the same unit.

The documents were brought to light after previously being held from an ongoing High Court legal case by the government after an Afghani man claimed he was unlawfully detained and mistreated.

One of the documents that has caused the most concern amongst the government and top brass of the armed forces were the figures by the unit from the Special Air Service during operations in Helmand Province.

One incident which is now at the centre of the case is an alleged quadruple murder by this one unit of the SAS.

On February 16, 2011, the unnamed SAS unit arrived at the village of Gawahargin in southern Helmand province.

The documents say they raided a suspected member of a gang’s home after he was thought to be planting roadside bombs

Family members including his 19-year-old brother Saifullah stepping out into the night with their hands up.

They add women and children were tied up, with black hoods placed on their heads as they were detained in one part of the compound, then heard gunfire.

After the special forces soldiers left, Saifullah went back into the house and found his dad, brothers and cousin dead with several bullet holes in their heads, it is alleged.

As part of the litigation, the allegation about the four civilian killings was passed on to the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police (RMP), who felt the claims were sufficiently serious to launch an investigation in March 2014.

In one note written on the day of the killings, an officer said he had a “very difficult” meeting with the colonel in charge of an Afghan partner unit (APU) about the incident.

The colonel brought along nine of his soldiers, one of whom was a relative of Saifullah’s family and who gave assurances that the dead men were teachers and farmers, not Taliban supporters.

The colonel said his soldiers had reported that nobody had fired at the coalition forces, but the men “were shot anyway”.

Two years later, Saifullah’s uncle made a claim against the UK government for unlawful detention and mistreatment, as he had been imprisoned for 20 days after the raid by the SAS and then released without charge.

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Australian SAS allegedly killing ‘unarmed civilian’ in Afghanistan

As part of the litigation, the allegation about the four civilian killings was passed on to the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police (RMP), who felt the claims were sufficiently serious to launch an investigation in March 2014.

But in extraordinary communications between members of the unit and senior special forces figures revealed in court, the circumstances of the trip are thrown into obscurity.

When a computer link to the mission report was circulated earlier that morning, one SAS troop sergeant-major inquired by email at 6.56am: ‘Is this about . . . latest massacre! I’ve heard a couple of rumours.’

But in response, a senior non-commissioned officer sent back a note, laying out what appears to be the official line on the details.

Describing the death of Saifullah’s cousin Ahmad Shah, he writes: ‘Basically, for what must be the 10th time in the last two weeks, when they sent a B [Afghan man] back into the A [a building], to open the curtains(??) he re-appeared [sic] with an AK [AK-47 assault rifle].’

Then describing the death of his father, he said that they went to a different building, denoted as ‘A’, with another Afghan man ‘B’ to ‘open the curtains’, when the man grabbed a grenade and threw it at them. Luckily it didn’t go off, but the man was shot.

The email ends with a reference to the shooting outside the compound of one of Saifullah’s two brothers, Saddam. ‘And finally they shot a guy who was hiding in a bush who had a grenade in his hands. You couldn’t MAKE IT UP!’

But the strange details of the deaths, where Afghan men magic up AK47s and grenades from beds and behind the curtains that officers had told them to open has raised eyebrows higher up the chain of command.

In fact, some of the Afghan Nationals were so distraught at the killings including a relative of Saifullah’s family, saying that the unit had ‘murdered teachers and farmers’ that one of the Afghan soldiers drew his pistol on an SBS mentor.

An SBS officer wrote: ‘He [the colonel] repeatedly asked me to explain to the officer (present in the room) why his family had been first detained, and then killed by the British, particularly as there was no evidence.’

The colonel said his soldiers had reported that nobody had fired at the coalition forces, but the men ‘were shot anyway’.

The officer’s note added: ‘He suggests that 2 men were shot trying to run away, and that the other 2 men were ‘assassinated’ on target after they had already been detained and searched.’

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According to the court, what is alarming are that 33 of the deaths, 10 were near-identical in their circumstance, where a captured male family member is back into his empty home to clear the way for a search of the premises, only to get their hands on a weapon and attack the soldiers in ‘clearly impossible odds’.

The deaths and behaviour of the SAS in Afghanistan was a concern at HQ in the UK. A senior commander heard from men there appeared to be a policy from the SAS of ‘fighting age males … even when they did not pose a threat’.

In a note he also said there was a second concern that ‘the number of instances where the ‘head of family’ Bs [Afghan men] were being invited to lead the compound clearance and were subsequently being engaged and killed’.

In the same month in April 2011, a special forces commander sent a review to superiors on all the SAS raids since December 2010 detailing concerns that the number of people being killed was higher than the amount of guns actually found by the SAS at the scene.

He concluded: ‘In my view there is enough here to convince me that we are getting some things wrong right now.’

Just days later an email was sent to the commander of the special forces in Afghanistan.

It made clear that he was to carry out a review of the tactic of sending a male member of the household back into a building.

The missive said: ‘there have been several instances in which [redacted name of unit] have been forced to engage and kill the nominated Afghan male because he had reached for a concealed weapon in the accommodation area, either as he returned into the compound or during the clearance phase. This is a relatively new trend.’

The Ministry of Defence said: ‘This is not new evidence, and this historical case has already been independently investigated by the Royal Military Police as part of Operation Northmoor.

‘It has also been subject to four reviews conducted by an independent review team.

‘These documents were considered as part of the independent investigations, which concluded there was insufficient evidence to refer the case for prosecution.

‘The Service Police and the Service Prosecuting Authority of course remain open to considering allegations should new evidence, intelligence or information come to light.’