Australian Special Forces Unlawfully Killed 39 In Afghanistan, New Report Says

Clay Curtis
November 19, 2020

"To the people of Afghanistan on behalf of the Australian Defense Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers, and to the people of Australia I am sincerely sorry for any wrongdoing by members of the Australian Defense Force".

According to the ABC News report, Campbell acknowledged that the series of illegal killings began in 2009, and that the majority occurred between 2012 and 2013, in what he defined as "a self-centered warrior culture".

The report of Major General Paul Brereton's investigation has recommended that 19 of those soldiers face police investigation.

Media executive Kerry Stokes is understood to have set up a special fund to back the legal and other costs of current and former soldiers named in the report.

"The killing, the unlawful killing, of civilians and prisoners is never acceptable". All of those kills were outside the "heat of battle", Campbell said.

"This shameful record includes alleged instances in which new patrol members were coerced to shoot a prisoner in order to achieve that soldier's first kill, in an appalling process known as blooding", Campbell said.

General Angus Campbell on Thursday released findings from an inquiry into alleged misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

Australian troops in Afghanistan in 2010.

The matter first came to public attention in 2017 when public broadcaster ABC published the so-called "Afghan files", which alleged Australian troops had killed unarmed men and children in Afghanistan.

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Brereton described the actions of the special forces as "disgraceful and a profound betrayal" of the ADF.

Campbell went a step further, saying those involved had brought a "stain" on their regiment, on the armed forces and on Australia, and would be referred to the office of the special investigator for war crimes.

Australia's government had spent years trying to suppress whistleblower reports of the alleged wrongdoing, with police even investigating reporters involved in bringing those accounts to light.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a special investigator would be appointed to carry out independent investigations.

Nishank Motwani, deputy director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit in Kabul, said that the inquiry's report was likely to leave Afghans feeling "a sense of despair, vindication and anger that foreign forces can so easily get away with cold-blooded murder".

The report said most of the alleged crimes were committed and concealed at a patrol commander level by corporals and sergeants, and that while higher-level troop and squadron commanders had to take some responsibility for the events that happened on their watch, they weren't primarily to blame.

After the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks, more than 26,000 Australian uniformed personnel were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside United States and allied forces against the Taleban, Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.

"In this telephone call, the Prime Minister of Australia expressed his deepest sorrow over the misconduct by some Australian troops in Afghanistan and assured the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan of the investigations and to ensuring justice", Ghani's office tweeted.

"The report contained some disturbing allegations and the Australian government was taking those allegations very seriously".

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