Shocking Australian crimes in Afghanistan

Daniel McCulloch
·2-min read


* Body count competitions and sanctioned kill lists

A large number of murders were "reverse-engineered" after people were unlawfully killed to comply with a prioritised list of valid targets.

* Direct participation in hostilities

Australian special forces used this tool to commit "just about any atrocity that took their fancy". Villagers running away from helicopters were known as "squirters". Soldiers would open fire, killing many men and sometimes women and children as they ran away. Soldiers would then come up with an excuse, such as the squirters were running away to fetch weapons, to sanction the massacres.

* Clearance operations

After squirters were dealt with, special forces would cordon off a whole village, taking men and boys to guesthouses on the edge of town. There they would be tied up and tortured by soldiers, sometimes for days. When the special forces left, the men and boys would be found dead, either shot in the head or blindfolded with their throats slit.

* Cover-ups

In one incident, special forces were driving along a road and saw two 14-year-old boys they decided might be Taliban sympathisers. They stopped, searched the boys and slit their throats. The rest of the troop had to clean up the mess, bagging the bodies and throwing them into a nearby river. Special forces soldiers reportedly committed such unsanctioned killings in order to get a name for themselves.

* Thowdowns

Soldiers would carry weapons or equipment such as pistols or radios, ammunition or grenades to place with the bodies of people killed. Photographs would then be taken to make it seem like the target was legitimate.

* Blooding

Junior soldiers were required by patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner in order to notch up their first kill. Throwdowns would be placed with the body to conceal the unlawful killings. Cover stories would be created to deflect scrutiny, reinforced by a code of silence.

(Source: Inspector-General of the ADF Afghanistan Inquiry Report)