Last month, the publication of the so-called Brereton Report about alleged war crimes by the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) in Afghanistan ostensibly resulted in the dismissal of at least 10 senior SAS members.
The Australian Defence Department sent “show cause” notices last week to two senior Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers who were pictured partying with a killed Taliban* militant’s prosthetic leg in a bar in Afghanistan in 2009, the Daily Mail cited unnamed sources as saying on Thursday.
In the image, the two are seen posing with the prosthetic leg as they apparently stick out their tongues and wave their hands in a haka-like posture.
Photo : YouTube/ TRT WorldTwo senior Special Air Service soldiers are facing the sack after being photographed partying with the prosthetic leg of a Taliban fighter killed in battle. The warrant officer class 1 (right) and sergeant (left) were pictured in an unofficial SAS bar at Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan
Both soldiers have served in the SAS for decades and one of them reportedly took the leg from a killed Taliban militant’s body.
The reported developments come after Warrant Officer Class 1 John Letch, a 50-year-old veteran of SAS overseas deployments, voluntarily retired after the leak in early December of another pixelated photograph of the same leg.
Letch was pictured drinking beer out of the fearsome trophy in an unofficial pub set up inside an Australian special forces base in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province in 2009.
Photo : YouTube/ Guardian Australia/Breakingology A senior Australian soldier drinks beer from a prosthetic leg that belonged to a Taliban fighter killed by special forces in Afghanistan
The Daily Mail reported in this vein that shortly before retiring, the officer allegedly lectured troops on army ethics and integrity, which he said “are central to everything” the SAS does and “every decision” they make.
This was preceded by media reports about the Australian Department of Defence initiating an administrative punishment process that had already led to the dismissal of at least 10 senior SAS members implicated in alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
The process followed the release of a report conducted by New South Wales Supreme Court Judge and Army Reserve Major General Paul Brereton, a document that singled out “credible information” that Australian soldiers had murdered Afghan civilians and prisoners in the Central Asian country.
According to the document, at least 39 Afghans, including civilians and prisoners, were unlawfully killed in 23 incidents allegedly involving Australian special forces.
In all cases, it “was or should have been plain that the person killed was a non-combatant”, the document pointed out, identifying 25 perpetrators implicated in the killings.
Australia’s Mission in Afghanistan
Australia deployed troops to Afghanistan along with the US and other allies in late 2001 to fight al-Qaeda* and the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks, and has remained in the Central Asian country ever since.
Over the past 20 years, 41 Australian soldiers have been killed and over 260 more wounded in Afghanistan. The Australian troops’ current mission includes “mentoring, operational and reconstruction activities” as well as support for Afghan forces.
*The Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups banned in Russia and a number of other countries