In 2011, alarming reports emerged within the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) involving the alleged execution of handcuffed detainees in Afghanistan. These claims are said to have reached Gen Gwyn Jenkins, then a high-ranking officer in the British armed forces. Despite the gravity of these allegations, the BBC reports today that Gen Jenkins did not refer the matter to military police. Instead, he secured the evidence in a classified dossier, a decision that has since stirred significant controversy and legal scrutiny.
At the time of these reports, Gen Jenkins was a colonel with considerable influence in the UK’s Special Forces. He was allegedly made aware of conversations where SAS members described what appeared to be extrajudicial killings. The BBC reports that this information was initially shared with Gen Jenkins’ superior, Gen Jonathan Page, head of Special Forces, before being compiled into a dossier in April 2011.
The contents of this dossier allegedly remained in a secure safe, known only to a select few, as Gen Jenkins ascended the military ranks. This secrecy, the BBC claims, persisted until a Special Forces whistleblower exposed the existence of the dossier to the Royal Military Police, prompting a broader inquiry.
These developments allegedly coincided with Gen Jenkins’ promotion to head of all UK Special Forces in Afghanistan. His career trajectory continued upward, eventually leading to his appointment as vice chief of the defence staff, a four-star general position.
The BBC and Action on Armed Violence have reported extensively on these alleged extrajudicial killings by British special forces in Afghanistan. Notably, that one SAS squadron had suspiciously killed 54 people in a six-month period ending in May 2011. This and other similar reports have led to a judge-led public inquiry currently underway at the Royal Courts of Justice.
These startling allegations by BBC implicating Gen Gwyn Jenkins in the mishandling of claims regarding the execution of detainees by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan raise major concerns at the heart of the British military. The BBC’s comprehensive report paints a concerning picture of possible misconduct and breaches of military protocol at senior levels.
Overview of the BBC’s Allegations:
- Disturbing Allegations Surface: The heart of this story lies in the claims made by SAS soldiers about the execution of handcuffed detainees in Afghanistan. These serious allegations, which point to potential war crimes, were allegedly reported to Gen Jenkins in 2011.
- A Questionable Decision: Gen Jenkins, rather than adhering to the legal requirement of reporting these allegations to the military police, allegedly chose secrecy. He allegedly compiled the incriminating evidence into a classified dossier and locked it away, sparking concerns about transparency and accountability in the military’s upper echelons.
- Career Advancement Amidst Scandal: The report sheds light on Gen Jenkins’ career trajectory during and after the period the dossier was allegedly kept hidden. He climbed the ranks to become a key figure in the UK military, raising questions about the impact of these allegations on his professional advancement.
- Review Process Under Scrutiny: The internal review initiated by the military, which lacked comprehensive external investigation, has been criticised for its superficial approach and failure to address the core issues adequately.
- Challenges in Pursuing Justice: The Royal Military Police expressed that their investigation was impeded by the restricted access to evidence, and military police investigators faced roadblocks in conducting a thorough and unbiased probe.
- MoD’s Stance on the Issue: The Ministry of Defence, while supportive of the ongoing public inquiry, has refrained from commenting on the allegations, citing the inquiry’s ongoing nature.
- Silence from the Accused: Both Gen Jenkins and Gen Page have not publicly addressed these allegations, adding to the air of mystery and concern surrounding this issue.
The BBC’s report not only appears to expose potential lapses in military conduct and ethics but also opens up a larger conversation about accountability and justice within the armed forces. The unfolding public inquiry is expected to further illuminate these complex and concerning issues.
Dr Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence said of the report: “The allegations unearthed by the BBC’s Hannah O’Grady and Joel Gunter are deeply troubling, underscoring a critical need for transparency and ethical conduct in military operations. The failure to address such serious claims of extrajudicial killings potentially tarnishes the reputation of the UK armed forces and undermines the principles of international law and human rights.”
“It’s imperative that these allegations are thoroughly and independently investigated, ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. This situation not only calls for justice for the victims but also demands a reevaluation of military protocols to prevent such occurrences in the future.'”
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