Australia’s military opens inquiry into 2013 case of two Afghan civilians killed in raid by special forces
Afghanistan’s leading human rights organisation said that two Afghan civilians killed by Australian special forces in 2013 were unarmed.
The killing of Bismillah Jan Acadi and his son Sadiqullah, six, by Australian SAS troops was originally exposed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation two years ago.
ABC’s report became the subject of an Australian police investigation.
The broadcaster said the farmer and his son were sleeping in their village of Ala Balogh in the central province of Uruzgan, when the raid began.
One of Bismillah’s sons, Esmat Khan, told ABC: “As soon as they came, they shot them. They didn’t ask him anything ... his body was riddled with shots like a colander.”
A military investigation cleared the soldiers after the trooper who shot the father and son told an inquiry that Bismillah aimed a gun at him.
In June this year, Australian police raided ABC’s Sydney headquarters and seized documents related to the programme, acting on a warrant against reporter Dan Oakes, producer Sam Clark and ABC News director Gaven Morris.
Now more than 90 files from Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission have been acquired by ABC, including one report that contradicts the soldier’s version of events.
This report says the target of the Australian-Afghan army raid was a Taliban commander, Mula Sardar, who was captured and detained for six months.
The file states that “foreign soldiers climbed on to the roof of Mula Sardar’s neighbour’s house. Some soldiers entered the house ... at this point one of the foreign soldiers shot and killed both Bismillah Jan ... and his sixyear-old son Sadiqullah while
asleep under a blanket on the veranda”.
Bismillah’s cousin and neighbour, Mohammad Masoom, told the human rights group that the pair were asleep.
A representative of the Australian Department of Defence told The National that the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force is conducting “an independent inquiry to determine whether there is any substance to allegations and rumours relating to possible breaches of the Law of Armed Conflict by members of the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan over the period 2005 to 2016”.
“It is not appropriate for Defence to comment further,” the official said.
The head of the AIHRC, Shaharzad Akbar, told ABC that Bismillah “was not in any way attacking the Australian forces ... He was not a threat. He was a civilian”.
Richard Di Natale, leader of the Australian Greens political party criticised the government for taking action against the journalists who exposed the killings.
“Allegations that Australian SAS soldiers killed innocent civilians as they slept in their own home and attempted to cover up these killings are shocking and deeply disturbing,” he said.
“Our government should be devoting more of its energy to uncovering the truth of this terrible incident and less raiding news agencies like the ABC for reporting on them.”
A representative of the main opposition party told The National the reports are “obviously concerning”.
“Labour understands the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force is investigating several incidents in Afghanistan including this one. It is important that the investigation is allowed to run its course and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” the official said.