Australian Special Operations Commander Major General Adam Findlay admitted that SAS soldiers have committed war crimes in Afghanistan
The Australian special forces chief has admitted that SAS soldiers have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Australian Special Operations Commander Major General Adam Findlay told SAS soldiers in the Campbell Barracks in Perth that “there are guys who have done something criminal” and “bad leadership” is to blame.
This is the first time that a senior officer – who is still on duty – has said that SAS soldiers have broken the law in Afghanistan.
His comments have been widely interpreted as a confession that the Brereton investigation – an investigation into more than 55 cases of alleged misconduct by Australia’s special forces – will produce adverse findings when it ends in July.
General Findlay said the investigation found that some Special Air Force (SAS) soldiers were brave enough to break the ironclad code of loyalty and whistle the crime, an act he described as “moral courage.”
But he stressed that it could take a long time to restore the reputation of the force, The times reports.
General Findlay said, “There are boys who have done something criminal. But can you tell me, why was that? It is bad leadership. ‘
His comments have been widely interpreted as a confession that the Brereton study will make adverse findings when it ends in July. Pictured: Australian Special Operations Task Group Soldiers in Afghanistan in 2013
The long-term investigation, initiated by the Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force in 2016, examines allegations against special forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016.
The incidents are said to be primarily allegations of unlawful killings – including captive prisoners – but there have also been allegations of cruelty and more than 330 witnesses have been heard so far.
New South Wales judge Paul Brereton, who heads the investigation, will deliver the long-awaited report to Defense Major General Angus Campbell.
General Campbell will then transmit the classified report to Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds, who will decide which parts of the report should be released to parliament and the public.
The SAS was deployed in Uruzgan Province – and later in other areas – as part of a special forces group for various missions between 2005 and 2013.
There were five casualties in the operations, including combat patrols and surveillance.
One of the 55 alleged war crimes was the case from Haji Sardar, an almond farmer whose sons claim to have been beaten to death by a member of the special forces.
A Defense Force investigation, chaired by senior NSW Judge Paul Brereton, is investigating the Australian regiment of war crimes special forces and will report next month. In the photo: Australian infantry in Afghanistan
SAS physician Dusty Miller, a decorated former petty officer who served in Afghanistan, emotionally apologized to his sons after Mr. Sardar was taken out of his care by a superior and died shortly after.
Mr. Miller apologized heartily from Melbourne via a video link to two sons of the almond farmer in Kabul.
“I’m very sorry about what happened to your father, and I wish I had done more,” he said.
“You shouldn’t have lost your father that day and I’m so sorry it happened.”
Mr. Sardar’s sons were not angry and instead thanked Mr. Miller.
Abdul Sardar, 34, said he was grateful that Mr. Miller had helped his father in the final moments before he was reportedly murdered.
“He did as much as he could and if things were beyond his means, no one can hold anyone accountable,” he said through an interpreter 60 minutes.
Hazratullah Sardar, 22 (pictured left) and Abdul Sardar, 34 (center) sit with a tribal elder (right) in Afghanistan while listening to Dusty Miller’s grief-torn apology for their father’s death
“He didn’t die from his injuries, I can promise you that,” said Dusty Miller (pictured) for 60 minutes
Mr. Sardar’s other son, Hazratullah, 22, said he was also grateful for Mr. Miller’s help.
“I am very grateful to Dusty for his help and for contacting us and telling us what he did and the help he offered my father,” he said.
However, both sons asked Mr. Miller to help them gain justice for the death of their father, who came from a small village deep in the badlands of southern Afghanistan.
Mr. Sardar, a father of seven, had been shot through the thigh when the SAS approached his village on March 14, 2012.
Miller, a physician recently deployed to the Australian SAS regiment in Afghanistan, received medical care for the injured farmer immediately upon arrival.
Mr. Sardar was lucky because the bullet was clean and Mr. Miller said the injury was not life threatening.
He treated Mr. Sardar’s wounds and made him as comfortable as possible.
The army doctor said for 60 minutes that according to the Geneva Convention, it did not matter whether the patient was a combatant or a non-combatant, as soon as an injured person was under his care, he would be treated.
Dusty Miller (photo on duty) has silenced alleged war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan and apologized to the farmer’s sons allegedly murdered by the SAS
Mr. Miller believed he would take the injured man to medical base at Tarinkot, in the capital of Uruzgan Province, for medical treatment.
Instead, he told how one of his superiors approached him and said “this person is coming with me.”
Unable to walk, the soldier transported the bleeding farmer away.
A few minutes later, the same senior officer came back and told him the man had died, Mr. Miller said.
“I knew immediately that it was impossible – absolutely impossible,” said Mr. Miller.
“I assumed he had actually been murdered. He didn’t die from his injuries, I can promise you that. ‘
Mr. Sardar’s sons said that six hours later, when they were allowed to see their dead father, they had boot stains on his chest, as if someone had stamped him to death.
In the photo: officers of the SAS regiment in Afghanistan. The secret report of 55 alleged war crimes by the SAS between 2005 and 2016 is expected to be handed over next month
“When the kids went to see him, he was already dead, and when we checked on him, he had bruises on his check, bootmarks up to here,” said Abdul Sardar.
His brother Hazratullah asked why his father was killed.
“Women and children were crying,” he said through an interpreter.
“All the family gathered around him – what was his crime? What was his fault? ‘
Both sons say their father was not with the Taliban, and this is confirmed by military documents from the US-led coalition describing him as a civilian, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Mr. Miller experienced deep regret and regret years after death, accused himself of no longer doing anything to save the man, and developed a severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was determined to track down Mr. Sardar’s sons and personally apologize for what had happened.
“I knew what had happened to your father was a very bad thing … and it was wrong,” he told the couple as they were sitting with a tribe elder in Afghanistan.
“Now I want you to understand that this event has never looked good on me and that I was very disturbed and troubled by what happened.”
Mr. Miller had planned to fly to Afghanistan to speak with them in person, but days before leaving the coronavirus pandemic, the journey was impossible, so he had to communicate using a laptop.
It was the first time that Mr. Sardar’s sons, an Australian who had been on the ground, had heard their father tell the story of the last minutes — and Mr. Miller’s fear was etched on his face.
Hazratullah Sardar, 22, said: “I am very grateful to Dusty for his help and to contact us and tell us what he did and the help he gave my father.”