ABC Australia: Extraordinary footage captured on the helmet camera of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan could result in charges of war crimes.

Key points:

  • The video shows the SAS soldier shooting the man dead at close range
  • The video is at odds with what soldiers told investigators, who ruled the killing was self-defense
  • Another SAS soldier who served in the same squadron has described it as a “straight-up execution”
  • Four Corners has obtained video which shows a Special Air Service (SAS) operator shooting an unarmed Afghan man three times in the head and chest while he cowers on the ground.

His death took place within three minutes of the soldiers arriving in the village.

An Australian Defence Force (ADF) investigation later ruled the killing was justified because it was in self-defense.

The killing was one of a series of cases uncovered by Four Corners that may constitute war crimes.

A former member of the same SAS squadron, who was on the 2012 deployment to Afghanistan and has been shown the vision, described the killing to Four Corners as a “straight-up execution”.

The deadly three minutes

The video, taken by the helmet camera of the patrol’s dog handler, shows the SAS patrol disembarking from one of two Black Hawk helicopters before fanning out near the village of Deh Jawz-e Hasanzai.

It is a bright day in May 2012, and 3 Squadron SAS is looking for an insurgent bombmaker.

The handler, with his dog, follows the patrol scout, who Four Corners has called Soldier C, through a field towards a mud compound.

The helicopters are guiding them to a person who has been spotted in a wheat field ahead.

A soldier points out the way.
PHOTO: SAS soldiers during the raid. (Supplied) Amongst the wheat, the dog handler and Soldier C come across a bearded man in his 20s being mauled by the dog, called Quake.

“Quake, leave!” yells the dog handler.

As the dog lets go, Soldier C trains his M4 assault rifle on the man from a range of between 1 and 2 meters.

Video still of a man in the tall wheat fighting off a dog.
PHOTO: The man tries to fight off the dog as Soldier C arrives. (Supplied) The man rolls onto his back, his legs drawn up. In his right hand is what appears to be a set of red prayer beads.

He is still, as the soldier keeps the weapon pointed at his head.

After more than 20 seconds the soldier turns to the dog handler.

“You want me to drop this c***?”

“I don’t know mate. Hit ***** up,” replies the dog handler, referring to the patrol commander, who has taken up a position nearby.

The soldier turns to the commander.

“You want me to drop this c***?”

The soldier asks the commander a second time: “You want me to drop this c***?”

The patrol commander’s response is inaudible on the video.

Soldier C fires the first shot into the Afghan man on the ground.

As the dog streaks towards the prone man and the handler calls for him to come back, the soldier pumps two more bullets into the victim.

The Afghan man is dead.

Fewer than three minutes have elapsed between the SAS landing their chopper, and the killing in the wheat field.

The dead man’s name was Dad Mohammad, and he was thought to be 25 or 26 years old.

‘It’s just a straight-up execution’


Braden Chapman was a signals intelligence officer with 3 Squadron SAS on that 2012 deployment but was not a witness to the killing.

Four Corners showed him the footage.

“It’s just a straight-up execution really,” he said.

“He’s asked someone of a superior rank what he should do, but it comes down to the soldier pulling the trigger. It’s a straight-up execution.”

Mr. Chapman said he was shocked by what he saw on the video.

“That soldier there is not someone I saw do anything like that, and he didn’t usually act like that either,” he said.

Source:  ABC News

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve heard both sides argued about this killing. My take is this: a soldier knows if his life is in immediate danger, he doesn’t need to ask his superior if he is allowed to defend himself (there might sometimes be situations/places/times where you are not allowed to fire under any circumstances, not even return fire). So the asking itself is suspect, particularly if the commander is not eyeballing the adversary. How would he know what is the best action to take, that’s why soldiers are trained. Asking three times indicates that the soldier doesn’t want to take a prisoner (too much paperwork probably) but wants to pull the trigger instead, and wants a CYA note from his commander. So, in the face of it, looks like an extrajudicial killing in the line of duty and not performed to ensure personal safety.