Special forces soldiers allegedly murdered civilians and planted guns on their bodies
Appearing in many of Sunday’s papers, there are reports of a “rogue” Special Air Service (SAS) unit suspected of executing unarmed civilians in Afghanistan and fabricating reports to cover up potential war crimes, including planting the Russian Makarov pistol (used by Taliban fighters) on dead bodies to justify opening fire.
Some of the victims were allegedly handcuffed and hooded before being shot dead, Royal Military Police (RMP) sources told the Sunday Times.
Speaking to The Times British Army Officers said that the missions under investigation were designed to bring-down the Taliban by capturing senior leaders in a series of night raids. The alleged assassinations are thought to relate to a “shoot-to-kill” policy adopted by the SAS.
“Credible and extremely serious” evidence about the potential scandal has been gathered by Operation Northmoor, a classified RMP investigation based in a secret underground bunker in Cornwall.
However, the Ministry of Defence recently told RMP officers to finish most of their work by this summer.
A military police source told the Times that the MoD wanted to “avoid any of the detail of the accusations getting into the press and thereby undermining, in their view, national security, public trust, [and] work with allies”.
Drone footage gathered by Operation Northmoor reportedly shows soldiers in British uniform opening fire, contradicting claims that the British army’s Afghan partners, who acted as backup and interpreters, were responsible for shooting civilians.
A spokesperson for the MoD said the RMP had decided to discontinue more than 90 per cent of the 675 cases it started, adding:
“The Royal Military Police has found no evidence of criminal behaviour by the armed forces in Afghanistan.”
Jeremy Corbyn has called on the Government to launch an independent inquiry amid fears the reputation of the British armed forces will be undermined.
He said: “The allegations of unlawful killings and war crimes in Afghanistan are extremely serious and must be fully investigated.”
“Our armed forces have a reputation for decency and bravery. If we do not act on such shocking allegations we risk undermining that reputation, our security at home and the safety of those serving in the armed forces abroad.”
“Our values and respect for the rule of law require full accountability. We owe it to our armed forces and the victims and their families to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place.”
“There can be no question of a cover up. The Government must now establish an independent inquiry into what has taken place.”
It is understood that Operation Northmoor is now continuing with fewer than 10 investigations.