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Independent Inquiry relating to AfghanistanUK Special ForcesAOAV: all our reports

The dates and number of those allegedly murdered by UK Special Forces in Afghanistan

AOAV, Unredacted and Panorama continues to uncover allegations that there was a widespread pattern of extrajudicial killings by UK Special Forces (UKSF) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. At least 26 specific operations by UKSF have been reported that led to questionable fatalities. These operations, often night raids, were purportedly based on intelligence to capture targets deemed threats to coalition forces. 84 Afghan males have been reported to ‘Independent Inquiry relating to Afghanistan’ under dubious circumstances.

These incidents predominantly targeted unarmed individuals, identified as ‘fighting-aged males’, many of whom were detained and in British custody at the time. The findings indicate these incidents were not isolated but part of an informal strategy among UKSF, potentially contravening international humanitarian law and constituting war crimes. Testimonies from the victims’ families consistently assert their killed relatives were not combatants and posed no threat during the raids.

These accounts frequently detail ‘execution-style’ fatalities. Victims were found handcuffed with gunshot wounds to the head, facial injuries from dog bites, or found in their beds, suggesting they were sleeping at the time of death. Several children, including Ahmed Shah (aged 12), Mohammed Tayeb (aged 14), Sami Ullah (aged 14), Mohammad Taher (aged 15), and Naik Mohammed (aged 16), were among those killed. The similarities across eyewitness accounts point to a specific pattern of conduct by UKSF units, starkly contrasting with official post-operation reports. The pattern of extrajudicial killings was not limited to any single UKSF unit. Evidence indicates that such incidents occurred throughout the six-month rotations of various UKSF units deployed to Afghanistan from May 2010 through May 2013.

The Incidents

  • 6 September 2010: Detainee killed after identification under custody; led to Operation Pavo inquiry.
  • 29-30 November 2010: Mohammed Ibrahim killed in custody during night raid; internal review found actions compliant.
  • 28 December 2010: Suspicious killing during night raid; no RMP investigation.
  • 8-9 January 2011: Two killed under questionable conditions; no RMP investigation.
  • 15-16 January 2011: Detainee killed allegedly attempting to use grenade; no RMP investigation.
  • 19 January 2011: Three killed under suspicious circumstances; no RMP investigation.
  • 24 January 2011: Six killed, only three weapons found; no RMP investigation.
  • 7 February 2011: Nine killed including children; internal review found killings adhered to rules despite concerns.
  • 9 February 2011: Eight killed, including a child; discrepancies noted in RMP investigation.
  • 14 February 2011: Three killed, including dubious detainee actions; concerns about COIN principles.
  • 16 February 2011: Four family members killed; internal concerns about tactics.
  • 5 March 2011: Detainee dies from injuries at Camp Bastion; RMP investigation finds no criminality.
  • 12 March 2011: Eight family members killed; disbelief at detainees arming themselves.
  • 18 March 2011: Four killed under suspicious circumstances; no RMP investigation.
  • 1-2 April 2011: Two detainees killed after allegedly arming themselves; no RMP investigation.
  • 20 June 2011: Eight killed, including an unarmed elderly man; not reported to RMP initially.
  • 27 June 2011: Two detainees killed by enemy action in custody; SPA declined prosecution.
  • 26 July 2011: Detainee used to lure fire, killed; marked as failure to protect.
  • 12 December 2011: Four killed, only one weapon found; concerns raised internally.
  • Early July 2012: Contractor reports killing of three unarmed men by UKSF; Operation Shiverwood concludes without SPA referral.
  • 6-7 August 2012: Four killed in night raid, including children; internal review but no RMP referral.
  • 4 September 2012: Afghan Special Forces member kills injured male; incident passed to Afghan authorities.
  • 18 October 2012: Four teenagers killed; UKSF personnel referred to SPA, no prosecution followed.
  • 10 May 2013: RMP officer witnesses potential unlawful killing; subsequent investigations raised concerns but concluded without referral to SPA.

Conclusion
The extensive documentation presented to the inquiry sheds light on what appears to be a disturbing pattern of extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out by UKSF in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, beginning as early as 2010. These incidents, which often targeted unarmed individuals identified as ‘fighting-aged males’, raise serious concerns about potential violations of international humanitarian law and the commission of war crimes.

The evidence, if true, indicates that these incidents were not isolated occurrences but rather part of a broader, informal strategy among UKSF units operating in the region. At least 26 specific operations have been identified, leading to questionable fatalities of at least 84 Afghan males, including several children. Witness testimonies consistently refute the claims of combatant status attributed to the victims, highlighting execution-style killings and deaths of individuals while they were apparently unarmed or detained.

Of note and despite the evidence and alarming consistency across eyewitness accounts, these incidents were not adequately investigated or referred to appropriate authorities for further action. Numerous instances reveal a lack of transparency and accountability within UKSF, with internal reviews often concluding that actions were justified under the Rules of Engagement and Laws of Armed Conflict, despite significant discrepancies and concerns raised by personnel involved in the operations.

Moreover, the failure to initiate proper investigations or referrals to the RMP at the time of these incidents indicates systemic shortcomings in oversight and accountability mechanisms within the UK military. Even when investigations were conducted, they were marred by allegations of improper conduct, including witness intimidation and evidence tampering, casting doubt on their reliability and impartiality.

The failure to hold accountable those responsible for potential violations of international law undermines the credibility of the UK’s commitment to upholding human rights and respecting the rule of law in conflict zones. It also perpetuates a culture of impunity within UKSF, potentially eroding trust and cooperation with local communities and undermining broader efforts to achieve stability and security in conflict-affected regions.

In conclusion, the evidence presented highlights the urgent need for thorough, independent investigations into these alleged extrajudicial killings and the implementation of robust accountability mechanisms within UKSF and the broader military establishment. Failure to address these issues risks further harm to civilian populations, undermines the UK’s reputation on the international stage, and undermines efforts to promote peace and justice in conflict-affected regions.

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Note: This article gives thanks to Unredacted’s efforts in pulling the incidents together and bringing clarity to a hard-to-navigate catalogue of harm.