60 Minutes reveals SAS boss made unprecedented admission war crimes were committed by some elite Australian soldiers in Afghanistan
By Sammi Taylor|5 months ago
A joint investigation from 60 Minutes and The Age has revealed SAS boss Adam Findlay made an unprecedented admission that war crimes were committed by some elite Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, in a secret briefing at SAS headquarters.
Special Forces Commander Major General Adam Findlay conducted a briefing in Perth in March on the results of the Brereton inquiry, the long running war crimes probe into the SAS.
60 Minutes can report Major General Findlay admitted that the inquiry had confirmed war crimes did occur and that “there are guys who criminally did something” during their deployments in Afghanistan.
Major General Findlay went one step further, telling SAS soldiers that war crimes had been covered up and blamed the atrocities on “one common cause… poor moral leadership up the chain of command.”
Information from the inquiry into the SAS has so far remained hidden from the public.
The activities of the SAS in Afghanistan in 2012 are a focus of the most serious investigation in the Australian military’s recent history. Senior Judge Paul Brereton is investigating 55 serious alleged war crimes.
One incident under investigation is the alleged murder of Afghan farmer and father of seven, Haji Sardar, in 2012.
Haji Sardar was presented to Australian SAS medic Dusty Miller with a gunshot wound through his thigh. The Australian SAS had arrived in his village of Sarkhume in search of a Taliban militant – but Sardar was not a target.
Medic Dusty Miller says Sardar’s injury was largely uncomplicated and could be treated.
“I was like, “alright, I’ve got this guy stable. Yep. This guy is going to survive’,” Miller told investigative journalist Nick McKenzie.
But suddenly one of Dusty’s senior SAS colleagues ordered him to hand over the injured farmer.
“An individual came up to me, a senior, and this individual told me… ‘this person’s going with me’,” Miller told 60 Minutes.
“At the time, I thought it was very, very strange. I’m wondering why. But probably in the back of my mind, I knew exactly what was going on.”
“A few minutes later, that same person, the senior operator came back to me and said, ‘Hey Kilo (Dusty’s call sign) … that guy didn’t make it’.”
He told 60 Minutes he remembers that moment like it was yesterday and knew that his casualty could not have died from his wound in that period of time.
“He was stable, I had him. I assumed that he was killed basically. He didn’t die of his wounds, I can promise you that.”
Miller told 60 Minutes it was just one incident where the lines between right and wrong became blurred. He says a small number of his fellow soldiers were too eager to kill and maim, picking off civilians who posed no risk.
“I regret that every single day and every single night of my life that I didn’t do something about that. I should have said no, however I worked with an organisation that was quite brutal,” he said.
Dusty Miller reported the death of farmer Haji Sadar as soon as he returned to base that day in 2012 but says his senior regimental medical officer brushed off his concerns.
Miller has lived with the guilt and horror of that day for years, and in an emotional 60 Minutes story explained his decision to seek out Sardar’s family and ask for forgiveness, and why he spoke up about what he witnessed in Afghanistan.
“It’s the right thing to do. It’s not the easy thing to do,” he told 60 Minutes.
“I know what’s right and wrong. Those people that did the wrong thing know, deep down, they know it’s wrong. They have to live with that. And so I have to live with this.”
Dusty Miller has since told the Inspector Generals inquiry led by Judge Paul Brereton exactly what happened to Haji Sardar and who did it.
But he is no longer alone in his decision to speak out.
In Commander Findlay’s secret briefing, he revealed more whistleblowers are coming forward to tell their stories about how a small number of SAS soldiers went off the rails and murdered the weak and innocent.
It is expected the inquiry will finish in July.
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