In a shocking revelation, a US Marine has told Australia’s National Broadcaster, ABC, that the Australian Special Forces killed an unarmed, bound Afghan prisoner after being told that he wouldn’t fit in the helicopter that was on its way to pick them up.
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The incident took place in mid-2012 during a night drug raid at the north of the HMLA-469 base at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, said the report. It further revealed that Josh (name changed) was the United States Marine Corps (USMC) helicopter crew chief responsible for providing aerial cover for the 2nd Commando Regiment.
The raid was part of a joint Australian Special Forces-US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) campaign aimed at blowing cover from drug operations that were financing the Taliban insurgency.
“We had done the drug raid, the Aussies actually did a pretty impressive job, wrangling all the prisoners up,” Josh told ABC. “We just watched them tackle and hogtie these guys and we knew their hands were tied behind their backs.”
The US helicopter was then called to pick the commandos along with seven prisoners, although there was only room for six people on the helicopter.
“And the pilot said, ‘That’s too many people, we can’t carry that many passengers.’ And you just heard this silence and then we heard a pop. And then they said, ‘OK, we have six prisoners’,” Josh said.
“So it was pretty apparent to everybody involved in that mission that they had just killed a prisoner that we had just watched them catch and hogtie,” he added, reported ABC.
Josh added that although no one said anything at the time because they were all being recorded on comms and didn’t want to be “involved in whatever came next,” but after returning to the camp, the crewmates discussed the incident.
“This was the first time we saw something we couldn’t morally justify because we knew somebody was already cuffed up, ready to go, taken prisoner and we just witnessed them kill a prisoner,” he told ABC.
“This isn’t like a heat of the moment call where you’re trying to make a decision. It was a very deliberate decision to break the rules of war,” he added.
Reportedly, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) is investigating the killing of at least one prisoner, however, it is unclear whether this incident is included or not.
After ABC contacted the Australian Defence Force for clarification, they said it is not appropriate for Defence to comment on matters that “may or may not be the subject of the Afghanistan Inquiry.”
This isn’t the first time that the Australian Forces in Afghanistan have been accused of a war crime. Graphic footage, accessed by ABC, shows a Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldier killing Afghan civilians in cold blood.
“While a four-year inquiry into the behaviour of its soldiers in Afghanistan, by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, is still to deliver on its investigation, the chances of alleged war crimes being swept under the rug thanks to lying soldiers misguidedly protecting their comrades, misinformation from witnesses, or from a political cover-up, have just been blown out of the water,” said Damian Wilson, a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor.
The footage is from body cameras worn by the soldiers. Wilson reiterated that the culprits will regret that alongside their modern-tech weapons and armour they wore high definition body cameras that caught some of the inhumanity, and equally grim audio commentary, during their operations to flush out enemy combatants.
“As an Australian, I am deeply ashamed by these disgraceful, impossible to deny scenes,” wrote Wilson.