BBC claims that Special forces buried evidence of Afghan killings

Now I'm only a Matelot and a Sundodger, so they don't let us play with guns 'n' things. However, why would somebody throw two perfectly good bullets/rounds (whatever!) at some old bint's house!

Please tell me this is a made up yarn, 'cos I think she might be telling porkies (SWIDT?).
They're Special Forces so none of this mamby pamby shooting. They insert bullets manually.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
What do you think Hammond was talking about in Sept 2012 when he said this during a visit to Bastion?


A veiled reference to extra-curricular activities?
In what way would that have been "extra-curricular"? Detention or kill/capture operations were a standard operation that had been part of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns almost since their start; they were signed off by every US and UK government (and several others) during those periods, as well as some in previous conflicts (UK in NI for example); they were barely even "secret" given the number of media articles, books and films covering them since the mid-2000's. Equally, anyone running those operations always highlighted that they were not a way to win a war, but a disrupt function to give others (political or military) the time and space to win a war.

Looks to me like Hammond was just giving the status quo line he had been briefed about operations.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Now I'm only a Matelot and a Sundodger, so they don't let us play with guns 'n' things. However, why would somebody throw two perfectly good bullets/rounds (whatever!) at some old bint's house!

Please tell me this is a made up yarn, 'cos I think she might be telling porkies (SWIDT?).
It is depressing that nobody in the AFP or other media shops could, pre publishing, point out the glaring error in that picture.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
It is depressing that nobody in the AFP or other media shops could, pre publishing, point out the glaring error in that picture.
It wouldn't be in journalistic interest.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
It wouldn't be in journalistic interest.
Yes, it would. It might not be in the corporate interest of boosting page views, but those two are not the same thing at all, which is why the tension between them is destroying journalism.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Yes, it would. It might not be in the corporate interest of boosting page views, but those two are not the same thing at all, which is why the tension between them is destroying journalism.
You may have missed the intent, but that's the problem with written comms.

Real journalistic interest should generate a desire for truth and accuracy, but it seems to be a rare occurrence in my limited experience, and while corporate financial reasons undoubtedly play their part, sloth, deadlines and fear of outside repercussions are among the reasons for what appears to be a decline in journalistic standards.

I say appears as most readers have access to far more sources than ever before, but as you know that's too simplistic and there are many other factors to take into account.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
You may have missed the intent, but that's the problem with written comms.

Real journalistic interest should generate a desire for truth and accuracy, but it seems to be a rare occurrence in my limited experience, and while corporate financial reasons undoubtedly play their part, sloth, deadlines and fear of outside repercussions are among the reasons for what appears to be a decline in journalistic standards.

I say appears as most readers have access to far more sources than ever before, but as you know that's too simplistic and there are many other factors to take into account.
Sure, but it helps if we keep calling things names that mean what they mean. I agree real journalistic interest means what you say above, so call that journalistic interest. If something else is happening, call it something else, which is why I offered corporate interest.

Otherwise we will live in a hall of mirrors that we helped build.
 

Poppycock

War Hero
In what way would that have been "extra-curricular"? Detention or kill/capture operations were a standard operation that had been part of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns almost since their start
From the available reports,
An internal [SAS] email requests a copy of the OPSUM within hours of the killings and asks: "Is this about [redacted] latest massacre!"

The reply includes a summary of the unlikely events in the official report and concludes by saying: "You couldn't MAKE IT UP!"
... I've little doubt these were very specifically kill operations. Do I think Special Forces were out slotting people for fun? No

But I do know there was a huge frustration in 2012 that insurgents handed over to Afghan forces were reappearing on the battlefield, back to making and planting IEDs.

Do I think our Special Forces were identifying bomb makers, etc beyond any doubt then going out with the express intention of 'removing them from the battlefield' permanently? From the available evidence I'd say very, very likely.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
From the available reports,

... I've little doubt these were very specifically kill operations. Do I think Special Forces were out slotting people for fun? No

But I do know there was a huge frustration in 2012 that insurgents handed over to Afghan forces were reappearing on the battlefield, back to making and planting IEDs.

Do I think our Special Forces were identifying bomb makers, etc beyond any doubt then going out with the express intention of 'removing them from the battlefield' permanently? From the available evidence I'd say very, very likely.
No dice. Doesn't explain either why it would be "extra-curricular" or why Hammond would reference that.
 

Poppycock

War Hero
From the available reports,

... I've little doubt these were very specifically kill operations. Do I think Special Forces were out slotting people for fun? No

But I do know there was a huge frustration in 2012 that insurgents handed over to Afghan forces were reappearing on the battlefield, back to making and planting IEDs.

Do I think our Special Forces were identifying bomb makers, etc beyond any doubt then going out with the express intention of 'removing them from the battlefield' permanently? From the available evidence I'd say very, very likely.
IF that was happening - the extra judicial killing of bomb makers - then potentially SF actions saved me/others from the nasty blast wave weight loss program.

But my response would still have received the same response I gave to orders to stone Afghan kids to keep them away from the vehicles: "But what about the next patrol through the village?", i.e. vicious repercussions and escalations would await the next tour rotation who got to patrol through the same area.

I can understand SF reasoning, given the shit show that was the Afghan justice system, but I still disagree with the policy. If bomb makers we captured (alive) were subsequently being let free by the local judicial corruption systems, then it's a mission failure and we should have walked away LONG before our SF were pushed towards such activities.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
IF that was happening - the extra judicial killing of bomb makers - then potentially SF actions saved me/others from the nasty blast wave weight loss program.

But my response would still have received the same response I gave to orders to stone Afghan kids to keep them away from the vehicles: "But what about the next patrol through the village?", i.e. vicious repercussions and escalations would await the next tour rotation who got to patrol through the same area.

I can understand SF reasoning, given the shit show that was the Afghan justice system, but I still disagree with the policy. If bomb makers we captured (alive) were subsequently being let free by the local judicial corruption systems, then it's a mission failure and we should have walked away LONG before our SF were pushed towards such activities.
They were let free by us long before they got into the Afghan justice system. No cases even got close to the Afghan system unless they were a solid case for conviction under UK law. But plenty of those were also let free as, for example, fingerprint evidence wasn't accepted or understood in many Afghan courts.
 

Poppycock

War Hero
No dice. Doesn't explain either why it would be "extra-curricular" or why Hammond would reference that.
"extra-curricular" as I meant it = shooting unarmed men who posed no immediate threat then planting weapons / making up stories - both of which did happen

Why would Hammond reference it?

Maybe someone with a bit of integrity at Hereford sent him a copy of the emails which included comments like "Is this about [redacted] latest massacre!" and "You couldn't MAKE IT UP!". Would Hammond then make a vieled reference to it in a press interview? He's a politician, so quite likely he would've and did.
 

Poppycock

War Hero
They were let free by us long before they got into the Afghan justice system. No cases even got close to the Afghan system unless they were a solid case for conviction under UK law. But plenty of those were also let free as, for example, fingerprint evidence wasn't accepted or understood in many Afghan courts.
1. What? If our forces Identified & capture a bomb maker, WE let them go without handing them to the Afghan justice system?

2. And UK law does not apply to Afghans in Afghanistan, only to British forces (Armed Forces Act 2006) so that doesn't make sense.

3. We setup a judicial/police system that didn't understand fingerprint evidence yet we were wandering round creating a massive biometrics database for them to work with? That doesn't make sense / ring true to me
 

This is from the BBC, today of all days


Senior military officers buried evidence that British troops were executing detainees in Afghanistan, the High Court has been told.
Ministry of Defence documents reveal UK Special Forces officers suspected their men were killing unarmed Afghans who posed no threat.
They also show the allegations were kept secret and not reported to the Royal Military Police (RMP).
The MoD says the evidence is not new and has already been investigated.
The court case follows a 2019 investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times that raised allegations of unlawful killings by special forces during the war in Afghanistan.
The High Court is considering whether the allegations were investigated properly by the armed forces.
The man bringing the case, Saifullah, claims four members of his family were assassinated in the early hours of 16 February 2011.
His lawyers were asking the court to order the defence secretary to release more documents before a full judicial review hearing.
Documents already disclosed were presented to the court. They showed nine Afghan men were killed in a raid on 7 February 2011 and eight more were killed by the same special forces assault team two days later.
More than a dozen detainees were killed after they were taken back into buildings to help search them. British troops claimed they were forced to shoot them after they reached for hidden weapons.
The documents show that in one email, a British lieutenant colonel expressed disbelief at the official accounts.
He said it was "quite incredible" the number of prisoners who decided to grab weapons after being sent back into a building.
A fellow officer replied: "I find it depressing it has come to this. Ultimately a massive failure of leadership."
A week later, the four members of Saifullah's family were shot dead in similar circumstances by the same special forces assault team.
The documents show the killings were described as "astonishing" by a senior officer.

Another senior officer later dismissed a soldiers' description of events, saying "the layers of implausibilities" made the official account "especially surprising and logic defying".
The court heard a British officer provided a written statement to a commanding officer after a member of the special forces told him all fighting-age males were being killed regardless of the threat they posed.
The officer said: "It was also indicated that fighting-age males were being executed on target inside compounds, using a variety of methods after they had been restrained. In one case it was mentioned a pillow was put over the head of an individual being killed with a pistol."
All the anecdotal reports of unlawful killings were locked away in a top secret "controlled-access security compartment", the court heard.
The court documents show the allegations were raised with a "very senior officer" at UK Special Forces headquarters.
The special forces leadership did not notify the RMP. Instead, the high-ranking officer ordered an internal review.
It examined 11 raids where the special forces unit had killed people in similar circumstances in the previous six months.
They had all been taken back inside buildings to help with the search after surrendering.
The final report was written by the commanding officer of the special forces unit accused of carrying out the executions. He accepted the version of events given in the official accounts of the raids.

Operation Northmoor​

In 2014, the RMP started investigating the alleged executions after receiving reports from Afghan families and whistleblowers from the British military.
Its investigation, called Operation Northmoor, was closed in 2019 without resulting in any prosecutions.
The MoD claimed at the time the RMP had "found no evidence of criminal behaviour by the armed forces in Afghanistan".
But the documents quoted in court suggest there were serious weaknesses in the investigation.
A summary of Operation Northmoor states it only investigated three of the original 11 incidents in detail and two senior officers identified as suspects were later dropped without being interviewed.
The summary also shows a decision was taken not to view video footage of special forces raids.
The MoD maintains the four members of Saifullah's family were killed by British troops in self-defence.
It has previously said: "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."
Mr Justice Swift ordered the defence secretary to release additional documents related to the allegations.
The MoD had argued the defence secretary had adopted a duty of candour and that requests for documents should be proportionate.
So what's wrong with that?
 

This is from the BBC, today of all days


Senior military officers buried evidence that British troops were executing detainees in Afghanistan, the High Court has been told.
Ministry of Defence documents reveal UK Special Forces officers suspected their men were killing unarmed Afghans who posed no threat.
They also show the allegations were kept secret and not reported to the Royal Military Police (RMP).
The MoD says the evidence is not new and has already been investigated.
The court case follows a 2019 investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times that raised allegations of unlawful killings by special forces during the war in Afghanistan.
The High Court is considering whether the allegations were investigated properly by the armed forces.
The man bringing the case, Saifullah, claims four members of his family were assassinated in the early hours of 16 February 2011.
His lawyers were asking the court to order the defence secretary to release more documents before a full judicial review hearing.
Documents already disclosed were presented to the court. They showed nine Afghan men were killed in a raid on 7 February 2011 and eight more were killed by the same special forces assault team two days later.
More than a dozen detainees were killed after they were taken back into buildings to help search them. British troops claimed they were forced to shoot them after they reached for hidden weapons.
The documents show that in one email, a British lieutenant colonel expressed disbelief at the official accounts.
He said it was "quite incredible" the number of prisoners who decided to grab weapons after being sent back into a building.
A fellow officer replied: "I find it depressing it has come to this. Ultimately a massive failure of leadership."
A week later, the four members of Saifullah's family were shot dead in similar circumstances by the same special forces assault team.
The documents show the killings were described as "astonishing" by a senior officer.

Another senior officer later dismissed a soldiers' description of events, saying "the layers of implausibilities" made the official account "especially surprising and logic defying".
The court heard a British officer provided a written statement to a commanding officer after a member of the special forces told him all fighting-age males were being killed regardless of the threat they posed.
The officer said: "It was also indicated that fighting-age males were being executed on target inside compounds, using a variety of methods after they had been restrained. In one case it was mentioned a pillow was put over the head of an individual being killed with a pistol."
All the anecdotal reports of unlawful killings were locked away in a top secret "controlled-access security compartment", the court heard.
The court documents show the allegations were raised with a "very senior officer" at UK Special Forces headquarters.
The special forces leadership did not notify the RMP. Instead, the high-ranking officer ordered an internal review.
It examined 11 raids where the special forces unit had killed people in similar circumstances in the previous six months.
They had all been taken back inside buildings to help with the search after surrendering.
The final report was written by the commanding officer of the special forces unit accused of carrying out the executions. He accepted the version of events given in the official accounts of the raids.

Operation Northmoor​

In 2014, the RMP started investigating the alleged executions after receiving reports from Afghan families and whistleblowers from the British military.
Its investigation, called Operation Northmoor, was closed in 2019 without resulting in any prosecutions.
The MoD claimed at the time the RMP had "found no evidence of criminal behaviour by the armed forces in Afghanistan".
But the documents quoted in court suggest there were serious weaknesses in the investigation.
A summary of Operation Northmoor states it only investigated three of the original 11 incidents in detail and two senior officers identified as suspects were later dropped without being interviewed.
The summary also shows a decision was taken not to view video footage of special forces raids.
The MoD maintains the four members of Saifullah's family were killed by British troops in self-defence.
It has previously said: "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."
Mr Justice Swift ordered the defence secretary to release additional documents related to the allegations.
The MoD had argued the defence secretary had adopted a duty of candour and that requests for documents should be proportionate.
I wish in a bar the other night and saw some bird with massive boobs and a gorgeous face, the only catch was one of her best mates she was with was a bender and was attracted to me... still... I put up with the lesser evil to get the better
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
1. What? If our forces Identified & capture a bomb maker, WE let them go without handing them to the Afghan justice system?

2. And UK law does not apply to Afghans in Afghanistan, only to British forces (Armed Forces Act 2006) so that doesn't make sense.

3. We setup a judicial/police system that didn't understand fingerprint evidence yet we were wandering round creating a massive biometrics database for them to work with? That doesn't make sense / ring true to me

1. Yes. The criteria for detention; the evidential criteria for handing over detainees to the Afghan system; and the evidential criteria for Afghan courts to make a likely conviction; all three criteria were different, sometimes very much so. A case had to meet or have a reasonable chance of success with all three to go the whole distance.

2. We applied UK law abroad as best practice, that was the policy for many areas including detention. AFAIK this still applies to a lot of areas where it doesn't make sense and produces perverse outcomes (e.g. Cyber).

3. We didn't set up the judicial system, but yes we were creating a massive biometrics database partially independent of whether it had any impact beyond our own (ISAF) use.

Moreover, where biometrics was concerned, this recommendation went forward subsequently in the UK (i.e. for post-Afghan operations) too, because the (Int Corps) officers in place in PJHQ and Exploitation jobs at the time were simply incompetent. Despite the scientists and CS at Abbey Wood and elsewhere raising alarms and recommending against it, the plan for A2020 was that biometrics would be the major plank of intelligence exploitation capability in any operation (i.e. a NEO, COIN, invasion, etc). When it was pointed out that the databases for such a capability simply wouldn't exist without the 10+ years we had spent in Afghanistan / Iraq, the replies included:

"That's for the geeks to sort out at the time" [in this case - "the geeks" including those telling them it was unworkable]
"We'll make it a top priority for SF to secure state registries to get biometric information during an invasion" [even assuming such registries exist, as we all know, the UK chain of command goes 1. Int Corps 2. JFC 3. SF]
"XX person (non-expert) told us that 50% of likely countries we will be operating in have some form of biometric registry" [ignoring the fact that importing and cleaning any such dataset to work with our systems is a massive, time-consuming job, and "some form of biometric registry" doesn't mean "compatible biometric information"]

This decision/recommendation about how to direct ££millions of a critical equipment program, despite the objections of qualified experts, was made by a couple of Int Corps Majors and Lt Cols who had been chatting to each other between PJHQ and Trenchard Lines, and couldn't even understand the IT requirements or maths of the capability. The one who drove the decision was later Int Corps Col, and then (super laughs) a 1* in charge of technology and Cyber. As best as I'm aware, five years later, this biometrics-first strategy had of course died, and the kit sits around unused. But at least those involved were promoted and got an OBE out of it, so we'll call that a win!

You may not believe it, and I'm sympathetic that we'd all hope this weapons-grade incompetence isn't how decisions actually get made, but frankly I know a lot more about this than you.
 
Last edited:

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
1. Yes. The criteria for detention; the evidential criteria for handing over detainees to the Afghan system; and the evidential criteria for Afghan courts to make a likely conviction; all three criteria were different, sometimes very much so. A case had to meet or have a reasonable chance of success with all three to go the whole distance.

2. We applied UK law abroad as best practice, that was the policy for many areas including detention. AFAIK this still applies to a lot of areas where it doesn't make sense and produces perverse outcomes (e.g. Cyber).

3. We didn't set up the judicial system, but yes we were creating a massive biometrics database partially independent of whether it had any impact beyond our own (ISAF) use.

Moreover, where biometrics was concerned, this recommendation went forward subsequently in the UK (i.e. for post-Afghan operations) too, because the (Int Corps) officers in place in PJHQ and Exploitation jobs at the time were simply incompetent. Despite the scientists and CS at Abbey Wood and elsewhere raising alarms and recommending against it, the plan for A2020 was that biometrics would be the major plank of intelligence exploitation capability in any operation (i.e. a NEO, COIN, invasion, etc). When it was pointed out that the databases for such a capability simply wouldn't exist without the 10+ years we had spent in Afghanistan / Iraq, the replies included:

"That's for the geeks to sort out at the time" [in this case - "the geeks" including those telling them it was unworkable]
"We'll make it a top priority for SF to secure state registries to get biometric information during an invasion" [even assuming such registries exist, as we all know, the UK chain of command goes 1. Int Corps 2. JFC 3. SF]
"XX person (non-expert) told us that 50% of likely countries we will be operating in have some form of biometric registry" [ignoring the fact that importing and cleaning any such dataset to work with our systems is a massive, time-consuming job, and "some form of biometric registry" doesn't mean "compatible biometric information"]

This decision/recommendation about how to direct ££millions of a critical equipment program, despite the objections of qualified experts, was made by a couple of Int Corps Majors and Lt Cols who had been chatting to each other between PJHQ and Trenchard Lines, and couldn't even understand the IT requirements or maths of the capability. The one who drove the decision was later Int Corps Col, and then (super laughs) a 1* in charge of technology and Cyber. As best as I'm aware, five years later, this biometrics-first strategy had of course died, and the kit sits around unused. But at least those involved were promoted and got an OBE out of it, so we'll call that a win!

You may not believe it, and I'm sympathetic that we'd all hope this weapons-grade incompetence isn't how decisions actually get made, but frankly I know a lot more about this than you.
Poppycock is the lunatic formerly known as No4 Mk1.

Just FYI.
 

Latest Threads

Top