A major report has found that Australian special forces deliberately executed Afghan civilians and created cover up stories.
The report alleged that the forces killed 39 Afghan civilians and planted phones and weapons just to cover up their actions. In some cases prisoners were executed to “blood” junior soldiers before stories to justify their actions were created.
“Typically, the patrol commander would take a person under control and the junior member … would then be directed to kill the person under control,” the report found. “‘Throwdowns’ would be placed with the body and a ‘cover story’ was created for the purposes of operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny.”
The Australian Defense Force’s (ADF) four-year inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan alleges Afghan civilians were tortured and killed by a small group within the elite Special Air Services and commandos regiments.
During a press conference in Canberra on Thursday, the chief of the Australian Defense Force Gen. Angus Campbell promised to act on Brereton report’s “shameful”, “deeply disturbing” and “appalling” findings about the conduct of Australian special forces.
“To the people of Afghanistan, on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologise for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers,”he said.
“And to the people of Australia, I am sincerely sorry for any wrongdoing by members of the Australian Defence Force”. He added that most of the special forces “did not choose to take this unlawful path”.
Some patrol commanders forced junior soldiers to gun down prisoners to achieve their first kill in a process known as “blooding”.
According to the report, none of the killings happened in the heat of the battle and the Afghans who died were non-combatants or no longer combatants.
A culture of special forces found soldiers were motivated by “blood lust” during the torture and execution of Afghan prisoners.
The government has, however, committed to criminal investigations.