Australien: Spezialkräfte als Mörderbande

Neu sind die Vorwürfe nicht, aber jetzt hat sie auch ein offizieller Bericht bestätigt: Im Afghanistan-Einsatz haben australische Spezialkräfte gefangene Zivilisten ermordet, teilweise sogar solche Morde als Aufnahmeritual für neue Mitglieder ihrer Einheit verlangt. Zahlreiche Soldaten erwartet jetzt ein Gerichtsverfahren; die betreffende Einheit wurde aufgelöst.

Der Bericht, den der Inspector-General for the Australian Defence Forces am (heutigen) Donnerstag vorlegte, ist selbst in der nüchternen bürokratischen Sprache im Hinblick auf die Kriegsverbrechen erschreckend genug. Ein Auszug aus der Zusammenfassung:

However, the Inquiry has found that there is credible informationof 23 incidents in which one or more non-combatants or persons hors-de-combat were unlawfully killed by or at the direction of members of the Special Operations Task Group in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would be the war crime of murder, and a further two incidents in which a non-combatant or person hors-de-combat was mistreated in circumstances which, if so accepted, would be the war crime of cruel treatment. Some of these incidents involved a single victim, and some multiple victims.
These incidents involved:
a. a total of 39 individuals killed, and a further two cruelly treated;and
b. a total of 25 current or formerAustralian Defence Force personnel who were perpetrators, either as principals or accessories, some of them on a single occasion and a few on multiple occasions.
None of these are incidents of disputable decisions made under pressure in the heat of battle. The cases in which it has been found that there is credible information of a war crime are ones in which it was or should have been plain that the person killed was a non-combatant, or hors-de-combat. While a few of these are cases of Afghan local nationals encountered during an operation who were on no reasonable view participating in hostilities, the vast majority are cases where the persons were killed when hors-de-combat because they had been captured and were persons under control, and as such were protected under international law, breach of which was a crime.
The Inquiry also found that there is credible  information that some members of the Special Operations Task Group carried ‘throwdowns’ – foreign weapons or equipment, typically though not invariably easily concealable such as pistols, small hand held radios (‘ICOMs’), weapon magazines and grenades – to be placed with the bodies of ‘enemy killed in action’ for the purposes of site exploitation photography, in order to portray that the person killed had been carrying the weapon or other military equipment when engaged and was a legitimate target. This practice probably originated for the less egregious though still dishonest purpose of avoiding scrutiny where a personwho was legitimately engaged turned out not to be armed. But it evolved to be used for the purpose of concealing deliberate unlawful killings.
In different Special Operations Task Group rotations, the Inquiry has found that there is credible information that junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner, in order to achieve the soldier’s first kill, in a practice that was known as ‘blooding’. This would happen after the target compound had been secured, and local nationals had been secured as ‘persons under control’. Typically, the patrol commander would take a person under control and the junior member, who would then be directed to kill the person undercontrol. ‘Throwdowns’ would be placed with the body, and a ‘cover story’ was created for the purposes of operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny. This was reinforced with a code of silence.

Unterm Strich: Gefangene afghanische Zivilisten ermordet, den Mord durch nachträglich hinzugefügte Ausrüstungsgegenstände zur Leiche verschleiert, und Soldaten zum Mord an Gefangenen aufgefordert. Wohlgemerkt nicht in einer Gefechtssituation, sondern danach, hors-de-combat.

Armeechef Generalleutnant Rick Burr nahm persönlich die Auflösung der entsprechenden Einheit vor:

As the Chief of Army, I also directed the removal of the title: 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment, from the Australian Army’s Order of Battle.
Although the incidents outlined in the Inquiry occurred across the Regiment, the report has made it clear that there was a nexus of alleged serious criminal activities, in 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment at a point in time. This alleged grave misconduct has severely damaged our professional standing.
This action reflects no judgement on the current members of 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment, but we all must accept the wrongdoings of the past.Current members of the squadron will be reassigned to other sub-units within the Regiment. A deliberate implementation plan will be developed to support this.

Der ganze offizielle Bericht, mit zahlreichen geschwärzten Seiten in der veröffentlichten Fassung, ist 465 Seiten lang und hier nachzulesen.

Nachtrag: Die Pressekonferenz der australischen Streitkräfte zur Vorlage des Berichts gibt es hier zum Nachlesen.

(Archivbild: A member of Australia’s Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) focuses his night vision goggles during a nighttime training validation exercise for Provincial Response Company – Uruzgan in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan, April 27, 2013 – U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick)