Video allegedly showing a “rogue” SAS unit committing war crimes in Afghanistan has supposedly disappeared, as an investigation into the squad’s alleged “massacres” has been plagued by missing evidence and silence from witnesses.
Now London is passing a controversial bill through the House of Commons which will make it virtually impossible to prosecute soldiers but, at the same time, will strip away their own legal rights and health benefits.
When British military investigators flew to Kabul in 2017 to investigate a raid after a family was shot dead in an SAS raid on their Afghan village in 2011. Saifullah Yar was just 19 when he was handcuffed and led away from his father, brother and two male cousins.
Later, he heard two sustained bursts of gunfire, and when the Brits departed, his relatives were dead, their bodies riddled with bullets bleeding on the ground.
Video footage of the raid was apparently captured by US air support overhead, but according to a new Sunday Times report, American authorities mysteriously lost the footage, and were unable to provide it to a British court, where the case brought a judicial review into the raid.
The mysterious disappearance isn’t the first time that key evidence from the raid has gone missing, or been intentionally hidden. The Royal Military Police (RMP) investigators’ 2017 visit to Kabul was one of their last tasks in a three-and-a-half year probe into allegations of war crimes against the SAS unit.
During the investigation they found that the British operators doctored mission reports to implicate Afghan special forces in similar killings, dozens of which took place between 2011 and 2013.
The investigators interviewed 42 soldiers who said they were unable to remember the mission. Court documents reported that a judge termed this a case of “collective amnesia.”
The weapons used in the raid on Saifullah’s village were destroyed the same year the RMP opened its investigation? However, evidence against the SAS troops has piled up.
Investigators found that British 5.56mm bullets, rather than the 7.62mm rounds used by the Afghan commandos, were used to kill the victims. Additionally, they examined reports that weapons were planted on the bodies of these victims, in order to justify the killings later.
The reports that followed the 2011 raid on Saifullah’s village stated that his family were killed when they reached for weapons as the SAS searched their property.
However, these reports were met with skepticism by senior commanders, who in a chain of emails seen by the British court, described the raid as “the latest massacre,” and expressed disbelief at the idea of four overpowered prisoners reaching for hidden grenades and rifles during the raid.
In the end the British government closed down the investigation in late 2017 without prosecuting a single case. The same year, another wide-ranging investigation into alleged war crimes, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), was shut down, also without prosecuting a case.
In 2013, Sergeant Alexander Blackman of the Royal Marines was convicted of murdering an injured Taliban member in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was later reduced to manslaughter but he still served three years in prison.
Of course, there are several conflicts from the past that include shameful actions such as the torture of prisoners of war in World War II, plus indiscriminate army killings in Kenya and Malaysia. Last year, accusations abounded around the killing of children in Afghanistan and Iraq by soldiers.
The only salvation may end up being the International Criminal Court, which may one day summon him, along with military figures, to The Hague to face justice, as they did with Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
Great Britain will be reduced from the founder of the rule of law, to the status of tinpot dictatorship – and it’s all down to an 80-seat majority Conservative government.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2021.