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Customary Barbarity: Britain’s SAS in Afghanistan

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Customary Barbarity: Britain’s SAS in Afghanistan

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Written by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The insistence that there is a noble way of fighting war, one less bloody and brutal, has always been the hallmark of forces self-described as civilised.  Restraint characterises their behaviour; codes of laws follow in their wake, rather than genocidal impulses.  Killing, in short, is a highly regulated, disciplined affair. 

The failed wars and efforts of foreign powers in Afghanistan have destroyed this conceit.  Lengthy engagements, often using special forces operating in hostile terrain, have been marked by vicious encounters and hostile retribution.  Australia’s Special Air Services supplied a very conspicuous example. The 2020 report by New South Wales Court of Appeal Justice Paul Brereton on the alleged murders of Afghan non-combatants was an ice bath for moralists claiming they were fighting the good fight.

Known rather dully as the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report, Brereton claimed that 39 alleged non-combatant murders were perpetrated by Australian special service units during their tours of duty.  The report was inspired, in no small way, by the work of consultant Samantha Crompvoets, a sociologist commissioned by the Special Operations Commander of Australia (SOCAUST) to conduct a “cultural review” of the Special Operations Command in mid-2015.

Her January 2016 report makes grim reading, noting such endemic practices as body count competitions and the use of the Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL).  The JPEL effectively constituted a “sanctioned kill list” characterised by tinkered numbers.

Units of the British SAS are now accused of almost identical practices, a point that will come as little surprise to some in the Royal Military Police. Titled Operation Northmoor, the RMP initiated a number of investigations in 2014 that covered 675 criminal allegations, some of which were said to have been committed by the special forces.  In 2019, the Ministry of Defence closed the investigation claiming that there was no evidence of criminality.

The RMP team disputed the finding, and had to face an atmosphere of hostility encouraged by then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer.  According to Mercer, the whole effort was a crusade by overly keen human rights lawyers keen to harass the MOD.  In his sights was the solicitor’s firm Leigh Day, which was twice cleared of allegations of professional misconduct for their handling of compensation claims against the MOD over alleged incidents in Iraq.

A recent BBC investigation has revisited Britain’s military efforts, finding evidence of unlawful killings during 2010-11.  One unit took its work so seriously as to be allegedly responsible for the deaths of 54 people over six months.  The pattern of behaviour is markedly similar to those of the Australian special forces: detainees supposedly shot after producing a concealed weapon; the use of “burner” weapons rather than formal issue to do the deed.  Institutional complicity is also alleged, with officers higher up the pecking order covering up the misdeeds of their subordinates.

The investigation also suggests that vital information was not shared with the RMP.  A claim is made that General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, director of the special forces, did not disclose to the RMP earlier concerns about unlawful killings, or the existence of a review into the squadron.

With these allegations come enormous impediments to accountability.  The British government, captured by a Brexit atmosphere of exceptionalism, has busied itself with making prosecutions harder than ever.  In 2020, the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill was introduced to provide serving and former military personnel “more legal protection from prosecution for alleged offences resulting in overseas operations.”

The press release announcing the Bill went on to note the number of compensation claims against the UK Ministry of Defence – near 1,000 – for unlawful detention, personal injury and death.  To this could also be added 1,400 judicial review claims against the MOD seeking investigations and compensation for a number of human rights violations.

Instead of seeing such figures as an instance of cultural blight and abuse in the UK military forces in their conduct of overseas operations, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace preferred a different reading.  The “vast majority” of personnel had “acted in accordance with the rule of law and often at great personal risk” but had been “faced with the prospect of repeated investigations by inquest and police”.

The Bill became law in 2021.  Under the law, prosecutors are discouraged from initiating actions in various ways.  There is a general presumption against the prosecution of soldiers for overseas offences committed five years after the alleged incident.  The original bill even went so far as to apply this presumption to all crimes bar sexual offences, though this was subsequently amended to exclude torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“Particular weight” must be given by the prosecutor to a range of matters, such as “being exposed to unexpected or continuous threats, being in command of others who were so exposed, or being deployed alongside others who were killed or severely wounded in action.”  It was imperative for the prosecutor to “have regard to the exceptional demands and stresses to which members of Her Majesty’s forces are likely to be subject while deployed on overseas operations, regardless of their length of service, rank or personal resilience.”  If the prosecutor favours prosecution, another limitation must be negotiated.  Any action against military personnel can only proceed with the consent of the Attorney General.

The UK authorities have also insulated themselves from civil claims based on harmful overseas acts that might arise in connection with the Human Rights Act.  The time bar there is six years.

Given that the acts alleged in the BBC investigation took place over a decade ago, the prospect of genuine, fully committed prosecutions is almost impossible to envisage.  An investigation of some shape or form is likely to happen, though it will be carefully managed to fail.  Britain has shown, time and again, that the rich rhetoric of human rights can be uttered even as its soldiers butcher for Queen and country.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He currently lectures at RMIT University.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com


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Robin Morritt

The BBC broadcasts blatant lies and propaganda about Russia, but bear in mind that if there is a people that the British Establishment hates more than the Russians, it is the British people.

They hate us. We hate them.

In a few decades, those of us who have lived on these islands for thousands of years will be outnumbered by foreigners and thus face an irreversible extinction.

All of a sudden you’ve decided the BBC must be the pinnacle of journalistic integrity.

Don’t be so shallow.

Florian Geyer

Western nation’s leaders are now finding out that Two Front Wars are a big gamble, especially when the wars are with Russia and the 50% of the Western population.

The Western Police and Militaries are bordering on, Thought Police and LGBT Military cruelty, against unarmed civilians who do not support Israel.

hunter bidé lab pork !

bbc as a super parazite in the anus !!! should be nuked forever !!! its the nazi queen abortion propaganda of psico lgtbs !!!!

Bigg Chungus

Don’t expect white sympathy here. The British establishment are not gods, enforcing their will by supernatural fiat. Their power still depends upon the consent of the governed. The next Oliver Cromwell has not beheaded the Queen and dissolved Parliament; not because he Can’t, but because he Won’t.

British loyalty, in all social classes, has been bought. And every day that you and your fellow white trash British are NOT torching Westminster is another day of loyalty successfully purchased, a transaction between two rational actors maximizing their self-interest.

In exchange for your loyalty (both in the domestic ethno-cultural agenda and in the foreign imperial one), you get a supply of energy-intensive goods and services. Examples include Chinese electronics, Bangladeshi garments, Polish laborers, and (of course) Ukrainian prostitutes.

You don’t want to give up your iPhone, your shopping, and your stocked high street, do you? Because Old Britain had these things on the backs of truly miserable people in Manchester and London. The New Britain has even more of these things from an outsourced underclass.

So don’t come here and pretend that you’re “one of the good ones” or that you are somehow the real victim of the world imperial system. They hate you, but you have a deal going…


Most convoluted comment of the month.


I agree with you, the politicians HATE our guts.


UK’s the only country that went along with the US to launch Iraq invasion citing the ability of saddam to unleash its *WMD* in 45 minutes while the carcass of late Collin Powell’s waving his hand holding the placebo chemical agent in UN general assembly trying to convince everyone to declare war against Iraq. The lies made by the devil-duo exposed the plain barbarity of the tandem whose countries are nothing but the global center of terrorism.


That special relationship of US & UK was the reason why both countries are hell-bent to keep Julian Assange in prison, fearing the man has got more in his sleeves to expose the horrific crimes as what the BBC has uncovered recently about brits SAS multiple unarmed civilian murders committed in iraq & Afghanistan. As far as I understand, the connection of the dots are now clear for the world to see. Justice is to be served by Putin soon.


They want to prevent MORE disclosures which would be profoundly damaging as they get up to even more of their deceptions and tricks.


The US intelligence services provided deceptions that gave false casus belli, BLAIR RAN with it and helped the US warmongers like Cheney and Rumsfeld to convice Bush. They even made up some tosh about the new babylon and the Whore of Babylon being Iraq. The screwmongers are also trying on some prophecies which are long past about the King of the North and the King of the South, Gog and Magog. The abuse of scripture, the prophets and religion is a well known ruse of evil people, the devil quotes scripture too as in the gospels, JC temptations in the desert at the beginning of the ministry.

"R" Addison

“R” Addison says a nukieymole.org has blogs of which there are 285 posted that pertain to the illegal invasions of the US due to both us imperialism UK imperialism French imperialism EU imperialism and NATO being an aggressor Force. What Australia did was total impunity against the people of Afghanistan they should have known better five times over. In my mind Afghanistan didn’t need wars it needed agriculture, people to plant trees and water the trees in those 10 11 13,000 ft elevations. My study was ecology. The history of Australia in 2010 and 2011 was abhorrent, as what they did was more than anti-human rights it was trying to prove to themselves how masochistic they could be…


Are you at all aware that in part of the tortures that occur these days, the victim is forced to carry out evil crimes and say falsehoods and all manner of other evil things. It is like rapists who force the woman to act willing and say I love you and make the noises to protect her children from …..

Peter Jennings

The UK gov’t will do what it has always done. Deny everything, until they can’t, then hang the soldiers out to dry. International law says that if one invades a country and then begins to murder civilians, that’s a war crime. As an international war crime, defendants should be tried at the Hague, not the MOD. Those who facilitate the crime and create the opportunity are just as guilty and should also be called to account.

Once the Blighty gov’t, the US regime, and the poodles in the EU have all shot their bolts, we might just see the perps of decades of warmongering finally answer for their crimes.

ukraine army recruiting office

this little pesky island called england is not going away already. some body has got to drop one and that one won’t have to be big one with no war depth.


Perhaps we need many smaller ones?

Assad Defeated Zionists

These war criminals like killing young muslim teens, they then practice CPR on the dying individual not to save them, but to extend their pain and suffering. They’re worse than Josef Menguele.


Doesn’t get wor$e than this – https://looksmax.org/threads/us-soldiers-having-sex-with-iraqi-and-afghan-girls-leaked-pictures-mother-of-all-blackpill.356378/ https://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread467965/pg1 And they are taking trophy shots and using under age girls the same way in Ukraine!

And the wor$t thing of all is they knew the whole thing was a LIE before they invaded Iraq in 2003 (https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11)!…

The American soldier that hasn’t blown the back of his head out yet for his crimes against humanity needs to pray on a stack of UCMJs with that bible before “check out”!…

Last edited 8 months ago by Matt

Please will someone take out the rapists. There is more support for murdering babies in abortion than in stopping RAPE.

War machine z

You piece of shit

mike l hutchings

Britain’s latest and greatest crime was telling the UK-NAZI they could defeat Russia. the body count for that is still coming in


no surprise—anglos derive from lower now extinct species of hyena

Truth to Power

Check the Apple accounts of these idiots and you’ll find pictures of their victims, socio and psycho-paths enjoy momentos. Captain Deepe Rawji of the British Army always loved to show off photos of dead Afghan civilians

Mike Milley's conscience

Ahh yes, the myth of the ‘civilized soldier.’ A warmonger is a warmonger is a warmonger.

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