Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Australian Special Forces raid which killed Afghan women and children
The death of bystander women and children is of course deplorable but the troops acted solely in self-defence in response to an attempted ambush and while being fired on. So as far as I can see the responsibility for the outcome rests entirely on the man who continued to provoke fire at himself while women and children were beside him in the same room. And his sustained aggression makes mockery of the claim that he was not a Talib. If he was not, he was of the same ruthless mind-set
A soldier at the centre of one of Australia's most controversial and secret military cases has spoken publicly for the first time about a horrific commando night raid in which five Afghan children were killed.
Identifying himself as Dave, the former lance corporal is one of two reservists from the Army's elite 1st Commando Regiment who was charged with manslaughter over the children's deaths in the 2009 raid of a family compound.
The manslaughter case sent shockwaves through the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and was the subject of a sustained public outcry, with accusations of "armchair" ignorance of combat conditions.
An ugly vilification campaign was mounted against the former director of military prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade, who had laid the charges.
The case against the men was dismissed prior to a court martial, but Dave and other members of the regiment remain angry that the ADF still has not formally exonerated him or the other soldier, a sergeant, who was charged.
Debate about the case was reignited last week with the release of a ministerial memorandum obtained by Australian Story under Freedom of Information legislation.
The ADF has never given a full public account of the events of that night.
Now Dave — who at the request of his family has not divulged his surname — and other soldiers directly involved in the action, have given Australian Story a detailed description of the circumstances leading up to the raid, what happened on the night and its tragic aftermath.
Australian Story also raises many serious questions yet to be addressed by the ADF. It is still not clear whether the raid was properly authorised or if the intelligence the soldiers were acting on was incorrect and led them to the wrong compound.
The 1st Commando Regiment was sent to Afghanistan in November 2008 on a four-month tour of duty.
They were operating as a strike force, primarily targeting the Taliban leadership on "kill or capture" missions.
A member of the regiment, Corporal Geoff Evans, said all missions were intelligence-driven and had to be approved by senior army ranks, but the information provided was not always reliable.
"The intelligence we received was of varying quality. Sometimes it was very, very good, and other times it felt like they were throwing a dart at a map," he told Australian Story.
Another commando, identified as Corporal W, said: "Quite often we'd go into a compound and it would be what we'd call a dry hole. There'd be nothing there, we'd go in, do our search and then leave. Other times we would go in, capture a Taliban leader, for example, so it varied."
Raiding party redirected
On the night of February 12, 2009, a force of over 20 people, including a number of Afghan National Army personnel and Afghan interpreters, headed towards the tiny village of Sorkh Morghab in Uruzgan Province. They were targeting a Taliban leader.
As directed, they first entered a family compound, but found that the occupants had no Taliban influence or links. The information they had been given was false.
They then received further orders from a lieutenant colonel in Kandahar to proceed to a nearby compound. Details of why these orders were given and the intelligence on which they were based remain unknown.
As the team cleared the second compound, they found a family including an armed man and relocated them to a courtyard.
One of the commandos, Corporal W, told Australian Story that when he looked through the window of another room, he saw a man pointing an AK-47 rifle at a door that soldiers were about to enter.
"I shot him," Corporal W said. "I believe that if I didn't engage him at that time [the soldiers] would have made entry into that door and he would have shot and killed at least one, maybe two of them."
According to Corporal W, the man then fired at him "probably half a mag(azine) from one-and-a-half metres away". "It's a miracle I wasn't killed. Bullets whizzed past my ears and shoulders and glass and wall fragments struck me in the face," he said. Corporal W hit the ground and other soldiers thought he was dead.
Soldiers say they warned gunman to stop firing
According to the Australian soldiers, members of the Afghan National Army, interpreters and some of their own unit were calling out to the armed man to cease fire throughout the altercation.
He continued to fire and Sergeant J — who was also later charged with manslaughter — directed Dave to throw a grenade into the room.
After it detonated, Dave said there was a brief pause in the fire coming from the room and then it continued "at a rapid and sustained rate, hence us believing that there was more than one insurgent in that room".
"It was coming out through the windows and it was coming out through the walls, around eight or 10 centimetres from my head and chest," he said.
The soldiers told Australian Story that the design of the compound meant that the man shooting at them had full coverage of the only exit and that they had no option but to kill him in order to save their own lives.
Sergeant J directed Dave to throw a second grenade, at which point the firing from the automatic AK-47 rifle ceased.
It was not until the dust from this grenade settled and the room was entered that Dave and other soldiers say they realised there were women and children in the room.
Three children were dead and several badly injured. Two babies who were evacuated for medical treatment did not survive, taking the death toll to five children.
Family says gunman not a Taliban fighter
The man who had been shooting at them, Amrullah Kahn, also died after medical evacuation.
His surviving family said he was a peasant farmer and that neither he nor they were affiliated with the Taliban.
A family spokesman, Farid Popal, who lives in Perth, told Australian Story that the Kahn family wanted justice for their devastating loss. "The family want answers as to why their father and their children and other members of the family were attacked, and why did they die?" he said.
Mr Popal said that as far as he was aware, the family had never received an explanation nor an apology from the ADF.
Two pictures speak 1,000 words
Yesterday I put up two articles, one by a Leftist lady, followed by another article by a conservative lady. I accompanied each article by the ladies' self-chosen picture of themselves.
The Leftist lady presented herself with an angry, glowering look. The eyebrows alone would frighten you off.
And the conservative lady presented herself with a happy smile
So there you have an excellent summary of the difference between Left and Right. It must be painful to be a Leftist.
How to become an honoured meteorologist
Tell lies. He says below: "I don’t know a meteorologist who doesn’t understand and accept that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will lead to warming of the surface of the earth. It’s meteorology 101. This is not 40 per cent or 70 per cent. It’s 100 per cent"
Yet we read elsewhere: "Barely half of American Meteorological Society meteorologists believe global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause, a newly released study reveals"
And has he heard of this guy?
Prof. Nicholls knows on which side his bread is buttered
Monash meteorologist honoured by prestigious fellowship. Emeritus Professor Neville Nicholls’s lifelong passion and commitment to science has been formally recognised with a prestigious Australian Academy of Science (AAS) fellowship.
Professor Nicholls, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment in the Faculty of Science, set his sights on science at the age of eight, when his aunt gave him a book on wildlife of the British Isles.
Professor Nicholls took his interest in science further by training as a meteorologist with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, after which he returned to research to further investigate how and why the climate is changing.
“Weather and climate variations affect almost everything we do, particularly the extremes like heatwaves, tropical cyclones, droughts and bushfires, which destroy lives and property. The better we can predict those phenomena, the more we can help improve the quality of life,” Professor Nicholls said.
Climate change is a particular area of interest to Professor Nicholls, who is surprised at the perception of a scientific divide on the issue.
“I don’t know a meteorologist who doesn’t understand and accept that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will lead to warming of the surface of the earth. It’s meteorology 101. This is not 40 per cent or 70 per cent. It’s 100 per cent. There is a perception that there is a big battle between scientists. There isn’t.”
Professor Nicholls has described himself as “doubly honoured” by the peer-nominated fellowship, both as an individual researcher and as a member of the meteorology community.
“I feel privileged to be only the third meteorologist ever to be elected to the Academy. From the operations to the research, meteorology is important because of the impact it has on people’s lives, so I am doubly honoured,” Professor Nicholls said.
Press release from Monash Media & Communications
What is happening in Aurukun?
Once again, Aurukun is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Last week schools were shut down and teachers evacuated due to safety concerns, and this week there are reports police are turning a blind eye to fighting in the street.
So what is happening there?
The situation in Aurukun is symptomatic of the broader social malaise affecting many remote Indigenous communities. It is what happens in the absence of a real economy and appropriate social controls. Welfare payments are spent on alcohol, and heavy drinking becomes endemic. Such circumstances are not unique to Australia -- many First Nation communities in Canada also suffer similar fates.
Back in the 1970s, Aurukun was described as a 'liveable and vibrant community,' but following the introduction of an alcohol canteen in 1985, levels of violence, abuse and neglect in the community skyrocketed. By the time the canteen was closed down and alcohol management plans were introduced in the early 2000s, the town's homicide rate was estimated to be 120 times the state average.
What is not so well known is that many residents (particularly the women) of Aurukun vehemently opposed the introduction of the alcohol canteen -- fearing the damage it would bring to their community. The downward spiral of Aurukun was exposed in an excellent episode of the ABC Four Corners show in 2011, which re-aired previous episodes from 1978 and 1991.
Australia has a long history of treating Aboriginal people differently. First they were subjected to discriminatory laws that prevented them from living where they chose, drinking legally, voting, and being paid a fair wage. When these inequitable laws were finally abolished, they were replaced by equally damaging affirmative action and 'culturally appropriate' separatist policies. This has resulted in the police in Aurukun applying different standards and excusing behaviour that they would not tolerate in any other suburban street.
Police say they have to "let fist fights play out on the streets of Aurukun to prevent more widespread violence taking place" but I bet they wouldn't let that happen in Kings Cross.
It is time to stop ignoring Indigenous violence in the hope it will go away. The people of Aurukun deserve to be treated better than just fodder for news stories.
THIS is the aircraft that Australia should be buying
The Collins submarines have never worked properly and the F35 shows every sign of being the same
The latest version of the Gripen fighter jet has been unveiled by Swedish aircraft maker, Saab.
Dubbed the Gripen E prototype 39-8 'Smart Fighter', the aircraft is aimed at markets not yet cleared to buy the troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The E fighter, the sixth variant in the Gripen family, is slightly bigger than previous versions, has a stronger engine and updated radar systems.
It is designed to carry more weapons further, and to track multiple threats using the latest type of radar.
Weapons include guided glide bombs, long-range air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments.
It also has a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun, which can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets.
Like others in the range, the Gripen E has a delta wing and fly-by-wire flight avionics.
But unlike some others in the line, it has a greater fuel capacity, 20 per cent more thrust, more pylons, in-flight refuelling capability and increased take-off weight.
It has a 15.2 metre (50ft) long body has a wingspan of 8.6 metres (28ft) which allows it to manage a take-off weight of 16,500 kg (36.376lb).
It can reach Mach 2 (1,522 mph, 2,450 km/h) at high altitude with a turnaround time between missions of just ten minutes.
The aircraft's sensors include an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and data link technology.
Saab claims that, combined, these sensors give 'the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.'
New development targeted at Muslims in Melbourne sparks outrage
PEOPLE have slammed a new development in Melbourne, calling it “a ghetto of Islam”. A block in Melton South will be transformed into housing targeted at the Islamic community, with 75 separate lots and a mosque built in the middle of the neighbourhood. It’s called Iqra Village and is said to become Victoria’s largest faith-based housing.
The development, which featured on A Current Affair on Monday night, sparked a lot of outrage on social media and there were myriad racist comments, with some even saying it shouldn’t be allowed.
“What a joke. If Australians build an Australian only suburb, we would all be racists,” a comment on Twitter said.
An anti-Islamic Facebook group is also encouraging people to boycott this housing development, which will be built near last November’s riots, caused by anti-Islamic groups who were against Islamic schools and mosques.
But the development is not a Muslim-only community and it will certainly not be gated. While it will be rich with Islamic culture, it’s only targeted at Muslim families who might want to live around others with the same values.
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils treasurer Keysar Trad told A Current Affair Muslims were just creating a neighbourhood free of discrimination and free of misunderstanding.
“This particular venture is an indication there’s a feeling out there that there’s perhaps less acceptance of Muslims,” he said. “A project of this nature will allow people to be able to develop a local place of worship or a local school without too many objections from neighbours. They won’t be getting in anybody’s way, it’s something within their local community.
“We’ve always encouraged our community to live among mainstream society and to build friendships and promote understanding and awareness.”
Town planner Bill Kusznirczuk told A Current Affair he did not have a problem with it. “Just make sure that we are planning these areas properly,” he said.
“Australia has found that its settlement post war has been a mix of a range of ethnic cultures and that’s a good thing, it makes for the perfect minestrone from an urban planning point of view.”
Mr Kusznirczuk encouraged the developments, as long as they remained open to all in the community. “Make sure it’s inclusive make sure this particular parcel of land joins and isn’t segregated from others,” he said. “Plan it well and there will be good outcomes for people who are living there.”
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here