What is the story?

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, March 24th, 2017 - 47 comments
Categories: journalism, Media - Tags: , , , ,

I’m finding that the way that stories are reported rather interesting and full of hidden bias.

For instance that the alleged attacker in the London attacks yesterday was a 52 year old British born man as was headlined in several media outlets this morning like the New York Times app headline I read this morning “British-Born Man Named in London Attack”. (I see that now links to “London Attacker Khalid Masood Had 20-Year Police Record“).

You’d never know that rather crucial fact from listening to the Morning report headlines read out by Guyon Espiner on National Radio this morning.

That would have a different spin than a 52 year old man with an Pakistani name who has had a number of previous convictions, that last one 14 years ago being for a knife offense. Which is the selective spin of facts that came through in the headlines on morning report. Sure everything said was correct. However it left out some crucial facts that would have been far more useful for a rational debate.

As a consequence I suspect that I’m going to have to deal up with the usual gormless anti-immigrant bigots today who are appear to be too stupid to look past those selective headline ‘facts’.

Why is that important? Well for exactly the reason pointed out by Jason Burke in the Guardian in “No surprise that London attacker Khalid Masood was born in UK“.

The reality is that contemporary Islamic extremist violence has never been as international as often imagined by the terrorists or their victims. The 11 September 2001 attacks involved hijackers who flew thousands of miles from homes in the Middle East and lived in the US for months before striking. But this was an anomaly, though one that distorted thinking about the nature of the threat for a decade.

A vast proportion of attacks over the 16 years since have involved local volunteers attacking local targets.

And on the attacks in western nations

Many of these men had previous involvement in serious and petty crime. For those already living on the margins of society and the law, the step towards violent activism is smaller than it might otherwise be. Prison is a key site of exposure to radical ideologies and people. Criminal contacts can provide essential – if often inadvertent – logistical help.

The significance of Masood’s age will later become clear. For the moment it simply underlines the variety of extremist profiles, and the unpredictability of the threat. Most Islamic militants have been between the ages of 18 and 35, with the average age declining in recent years. Some analysts see their attraction to radicalism as partly a generational rebellion. Violent rightwing militants tend to be much older. Thomas Mair, who killed MP Jo Cox last year, was 52.

This is somewhat different to that propagated by the populist simpleminded bigots like Donald Trump and his ‘advisors’ with their ideas of immigrants pouring over the borders to become terrorists.

It is far more akin to the views of those who say that you get issues like this when you don’t deal with the issues inside your own country. You wind up with locals on the fringes of society doing offensive behaviors (like domestic violence) and sometimes looking for a cause to excuse those behaviors.

Similarly, back to the spin on stories, it has been apparent for days that the story about the botched SAS operation detailed in “Hit and Run” wasn’t that the attack took place as a result of faulty intelligence and general confusion. Quite simply, these things will happen in warfare.

David Fisher has done an excellent piece “SAS soldier: We killed civilians in raid” (again I am using the title from the app) that details pretty much that.

The soldier said it was not the only situation in which there had been civilian casualties from a NZSAS operation and which the soldiers blamed on faulty US-sourced intelligence.

The soldier said a number of those involved in the raid had received medals for their roles, which sat uncomfortably when the civilian casualties emerged.

Bearing in mind it appears that there was no return fire, it was a failure of intelligence and the usual consequential SNAFU (situation normal – all fucked up),  it rather clearly wasn’t a action that medals should have been awarded for.

The story is why in the hell someone tried to cover this screwup up? Who was it that gave the orders to do it? Was the NZ government actually deceived (which by the sounds of it Wayne Mapp probably was)?

To my mind, that is the most interesting part of this story because it points to a monumental flaw in our process of deploying troops into combat situations (see note below).

When the military and government hierarchies start lying to themselves in the pursuit of better PR, then their ability to make decisions will deteriorate. That means that the soldiers and civilians at the front line will pay the penalty with death, injury, and having problems living with the consequences of bad actions for decades later. Not to mention the lack of international trust in actions and deployments that will hamper those future operations.

That is why “Hit and Run” is an important book.


  • I’d point out before anyone starts to pontificate to me about having a military or being involved in military actions, that I already think that you are an idiot if you think that these things won’t happen. I’m not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination because I’ve read history, have a clear understanding of human behaviours, and therefore joined the territorials at a young age without any clear benefits to myself. I still actively support having a strong controlled military for NZ and elsewhere as a required insurance policy. The idea is to figure out how not to need to use them except for natural disasters. That is the hard question. But if you want to argue about those points then use Open Mike and don’t make a fool of yourself on my post.

47 comments on “What is the story?”

  1. Anne 1

    The story is why in the hell someone tried to cover this screwup up? Who was it that gave the orders to do it?

    Indeed it is. Especially as it is starting to look like the “faulty intelligence” initially came from the Americans. Now who would of thunk!

    I haven’t read the book yet, but all the evidence in the newspapers and online suggest the finger should be pointed at senior personnel inside the SAS Unit. However, it must have also been sanctioned by some high level members of the Defence Force. Whether the PM of the day, John Key was aware of the cover-up we may never find out for sure, but his valedictory speech was notable for the absence of any reference to the book or any of its content.

  2. The story is why in the hell someone tried to cover this screwup up?

    Yes, exactly. The fact that counter-insurgency operations can easily become clusterfucks in which civilians are the only people killed is a given, it’s not a big news story. NZ’s military command and government trying to cover one up after it’s occurred and flat-out lying about it, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a given and definitely is a big news story.

  3. Richard 3

    Aren’t they attempting to cover up more than a screw-up though?
    If your stated mission is to capture persons believed connected to the earlier NZ soldier’s death, how is it that only civilians were killed / injured? If no-one there is armed how can the claim of collateral damage be made? Surely there is no need to be shooting people if you are receiving no fire and you are only intending to capture? Confusion can set in after firing begins but before?

    • You_Fool 3.1

      The soldiers story in the Herald is that they all expected to meet armed resistance, and so the people running around were thought to be gaining tactical advantage. Thus the order for air support then a ground sweep. It wasn’t until they went through the ground sweep that they actually got up close to the targets and realised that they were not in fact armed, nor the ones they were after. Thus it was a shoot first before they shoot us situation. I can’t really blame the soldiers, and I agree with the comment from the unnamed soldier in the article, I don’t know why the fact civilians were killed was suppressed, but I know it wasn’t the soldiers decision. (Well actually I do know why, a failure for the upper chain of command to accept that a mistake was made.)

      • Anne 3.1.1

        In a nutshell You_Fool. I, too, have sympathy for the SAS soldiers concerned. It is becoming increasingly obvious they were acting on bad intelligence and so can’t be blamed for the bungle. In fact it is the upper chain of command who are the ones who have let then down. I imagine that is why some of them came forward and told their story. It can’t have been easy living with the aftermath of that fiasco.

      • McFlock 3.1.2

        Yes, of the two civilians who appeared to have been shot, both were military-age males, one who’d just popped out of a door and the other was apparently running towards (probably completely unknowingly) the SAS position.

        One can see how honest mistakes might be made in a split second.

      • exkiwiforces 3.1.3

        I concur with all 3 statements, night fighting in urban environment is a split second decision making process no matter how good your Night Fighting Googles and your Night Aiming Devices are. Its the quick or the dead and once these guys left their Line of departure (LD) there is no going back you a committed to the assault.

    • silvertuatara 3.2

      I agree with you,

      and if the SAS were on the ground,

      and if there was no return fire from these civilians,

      and if the mission was not based/founded on revenge ex-judicial killings of alleged persons whom it was suspected were involved in the death of a NZ soldier several weeks prior,

      and the missions sole priority was simply to capture for the purposes of providing a fair hearing/trial to the persons suspected to have been involved with the death of a NZ soldier, for the purposes of sentencing or being let free dependent upon the trial outcome,

      and it is known that the SAS returned to base having not captured the targeted alleged suspects,

      and as of today it is publically known that SAS members killed civilians in this attack……surely the SAS marksmen and SAS members, who would have had NZ’s latest infra red imaging technology possibly with thermal imaging that would have permitted a high level of visual accuracy in terms of visual identification (despite the raid occuring at night) of persons attempting to flee from an apache helicopter, and possibly a heavy artillary gunship ripping innocent families homes to bits.

      The scopes and infra red technology for visuals, combined with the skills of the SAS sniper/soldier surely would have allowed them to have had confirmed whether a person fleeing (in self defence) their home that was being shot to smithereens, was carrying a weapon, other than a knife which quite possibly most villagers may keep on them for a variety of non aggressive reasons.

      Check out the night vision hardware https://www.google.co.nz/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8&safe=active#q=night+vision+googles+SAS+soldiers+night+bvision+kit&safe=active&*

      Surely the SAS members whom shot and killed the civilians, would themselves had have known of the deaths……and that there should be a legal duty for those soldiers to have had recorded and disclosed this information back up the chain of command.

      and with the Shock and Awe nature of the planned raid of these villiages under the guise of darkness, New Zealanders have got the right to ask those whom are accountable for planning,signing off, and following through with the mission, why after the disasterous “Hit”, why did on the night of the raid the SAS then “Run”, with the NZDF and Head of the SAS continue to run .

      and with the presence of air support, why did the SAS teams not confirm whilst on the ground the number of killed and injured, whether they were unarmed civilians, and provide humanitarian and medical aide including transference to the NZ based medical hospitals for those persons seriously wounded….and commence immediately redressing the horrific wrongs subjected on the the victims of this unprovoked act of violence on towns folk whom were not harboring the alleged suspects.

      Based on the information released through the press, I find it extremely hard to believe that that the returning SAS members, and in turn their superiors would not have had been aware of the shooting of civilians on the night concerned, based on post raid debriefing.

      The NZDF has a lot of answering to do in the next few months….lets hope they do so fully and transparently in a matter of months, as opposed to continuing to cover up, thereby delaying the commencement of restorative justice and compensation to the victims and their families.

      I have the up most respect for lawyers Deborah Manning, Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod for announcing they will be asking the Attorney General and Government for a full and independent inquiry, to pave way for them to represent the victims and their families of this atrocity.

      A big ups to Jon Stephenson for his humanitarian follow through with connecting the victims with such a credible and respected legal team.

      Perhaps now anybody and everybody whom labeled Nicky Hager, and or Jon Stephenson left wing conspiracy theorists in response to the release of their book Hit and Run, may wish to forward their unreserved formal letters of apology to Nicky and Jon.

      At the same time, I suggest that they seek advice from Nicky and Jon as to what level of compensation each deem appropriate for having been publically defamed by persons in an attempt to minimise the seriousness of Nicky and Jon’s well researched and credible publication that demands the process of an independent inquiry to be established, combined with, given the NZDF’s crumbling case, the immediate commencement of restorative compensation and justice so that the families and victims are looked after well during the process that they are facing.

      John Key was a huge fan of using the success of the AllBlacks for political points scoring. In this instance I think that those accountable, and in particular the NZ Defense Force and John Key who allegedly signed the mission off, should now concede and take full responsibility for their actions and in actions.

      We need more people and organisations that exhibit the same honorable and pure actions of humanity, with which we saw Nikki Hamblin, during the Olympics, stop and extend a hand of friendship, compassion and help to Abbey D’Agostino, after the group of runners before Nicky bunched causing her to react and trip and then in turn unintentionally bring down Abbey.

      It is never to late for the NZ Government and the NZDF to stand up and take immediate accountability for their culpable actions, and in doing so reaching out to the victims and their families providing compensation and restorative justice without any further undue delay.

      • reason 3.2.1

        superb post Silvertuatara ….. appreciate your effort

      • exkiwiforces 3.2.2

        Sir or ma’am,

        Clearly you have never used or seen Night Fighting Equipment (NFE) target ID is limited to about 100m and its even worst if you trying to judge distance at night using NFE. Using Thermal Imaging (TI) is bulky piece of kit at the best of times and the TI scopes are bulky. The battle scene would been a **** to fight in its bad a enough in daytime let alone at night.

        • Tui 3.2.2.1

          are you calling nicky hager a liar when he says in his book that they could have seen that they were shooting at women and kids???

          ~ tui

          • lprent 3.2.2.1.1

            Essentially I’d call you liar. As far as I am aware neither author made any such claim. It appears to be something that you made up. FFS go and educate yourself. Especially about the limitations of IR and low-light goggles.

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/90801107/six-questions-we-can-answer-about-the-sas-incident-and-three-we-cant

            Six civilians are said to have died: four at the hands of American gunships and helicopters, and two at the hands of snipers, probably the SAS. No insurgents are said to have been present at the time.

            Night vision is enough of a pain for soldiers on the ground as exkf pointed out. It lacks even more detail when firing from close air support from longer distances.

            It is unlikely that they could see more than movement and rough sizes from the air.

            Apparently two of those killed by air were in houses that the (faulty) intelligence said that the targets were living at. One was a child. Frigging hard to see through walls – especially at night. By the sounds of it, the briefing was that there weren’t any civilians there.

            The second village had a single house targeted and two men were killed outside.

            Since none of the intelligence material was released, what the soldiers were told can’t be verified – which is why we need an inquiry that is somewhat better than was done at the time.

            There were injuries from collateral damage – which if you’ve ever seen the spalling from large high velocity weapons is likely to happen. Especially when fired into masonry, mud, wood etc. Basically chunks fly everywhere and aren’t a good thing to get in the way of.

            1) The two men said to have been shot by snipers: Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin. As the authors see it it, these two men heard the helicopters landing near their houses, prompting them to leave their houses and run uphill towards a likely SAS sniper position they didn’t know was there. The snipers are said to have fired – killing the men.

            I guess you missed that the ones that the SAS killed were men.

            Hard to determine what they were doing through night vision, and the rules of engagement would have specified what to do if people advanced on their position.

            The problem again was that the intelligence was wrong.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.2.1.1.1

              Wrong as a result of SNAFU or something more sinister?

              It’s hard to see how that question could ever be answered without full co-operation from the US.

              Without full co-operation from the US, it’s equally hard to see why we should allow our troops to be so compromised in future.

              Most commentary is focused on the “fiasco”. The fact that a prisoner was handed over then tortured is just as bad.

              • Johan

                To OAB: In combat situations incorrect information fed to soldiers can have dire consequences. Only the hierarchy, in this case, the Americans have the answers. Reminds me of the Mt. Erebus disaster of Nov 28, 1979, when the captain was incorrectly blamed because someone fed the wrong coordinates into a computer.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Questions arise: can we trust our “allies”? Or is the misplaced trust closer to home? A Prime Minister, for example, with significant ties to our “ally”, ambitious for a “trade” deal. Willing to make “sacrifices”.

                  Willing to then turn a blind eye to the consequences.

              • lprent

                There hasn’t been as much detail on that. I’d have to go back and study it more (ie actually read it).

                I scan read a copy tonight in about 20 minutes (does nasty things to my eyes and head doing it that fast). Meticulous from what I saw. I’d probably disagree with some of the interpretation. But not with

            • exkiwiforces 3.2.2.1.1.2

              Lprent, thank you replying to Tui,

              Cheers,

              Ex

              • lprent

                Yeah, the book has at least one good photos of what kinds of image detail you get from an apache’s IR imaging system. Body outline

                • exkiwiforces

                  You would find that Apache crews would using the TI instead of IR as it gives better a picture, but that depends on a few such contrast ie black on white or white on black, clarity of the image, environmental factors, has gunner zoom in to the target or was he using the wide lens, then is the Mk1 eyeball and the human brain.

        • silvertuatara 3.2.2.2

          Thank you for your knowledge “exkiwiforces”.

          I suppose then it will be interesting to find out whether the snipers were within the distance you stated.

          The article that I read this afternoon http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/90801107/six-questions-we-can-answer-about-the-sas-incident-and-three-we-cant by HENRY COOKE Last updated 14:41, March 24 2017, when summarising Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book Hit and Run states and I quote;

          “The two men said to have been shot by snipers: Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin. As the authors see it it, these two men heard the helicopters landing near their houses, prompting them to leave their houses and run uphill towards a likely SAS sniper position they didn’t know was there. The snipers are said to have fired – killing the men.”

          Abdul Qayoom was a farmer and Islamuddin a teacher, and remember given that it was dark, and both innocent civilian’s being men of targetable age for the US, had every right to have had been concerned for their lives, especially given the large number of innocent civilians that have been killed in the name of the US….and now unfortunately New Zealand.

          I do not buy so easily into claims that Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were advancing in a “Tactical Fashion” as has been reported through the media….for such comment suggests that those involved in the kills could of and in fact had identified the men clearly enough to have had made a decision that the men were advancing in a “Tactical Fashion”, ….then it stands that they should have been able to identify whether the men were carrying a rifle or gun, and if they could not identify a weapon then the shots should not have been made.

          Running from US air support in the middle of the night does not define a person as an “insurgent”.

          It would also be interesting to see if the kill shots were a single bullet, delivered directly to the head or heart,or another body part the snipers use, which would be a measure of how well the snipers accuracy and visual acuity was.

          I find it hard to believe given the restrictions that you attribute to the night vision apparatus available to the marksman (and their rifles sights), when the soldiers would have been strategically placed for the kill shots, that the snipers (if they were the soldiers that made the shots) were not required to have had used the best night vision equipment available to the SAS sniper, irrespective of whether it was bulky or not, to ensure the SAS sniper could make the conclusive distinction between an innocent unarmed villager and a person who has been alleged by some process/ person to be an insurgent and placed on an ex-judicial killing list without first having been captured and given the right of a fair trial, who by all accounts should have been carrying an identifiable weapon for the sniper to take the kill shot.

          If the SAS killings are so indiscriminate, so as not to identify the target as carrying a weapon or not carrying a weapon, then the snipers concerned should return home straight away. I recall reading somewhere that the there may have been further civilians that have been killed by the NZ SAS which have yet to be disclosed to the NZ public….this is of grave concern.

          I note that the basic rule of recreational hunting/shooting, be it …deer, duck, pig…which is repeated when recreational shooters end up killing their mates, or an innocent member of the public is “don’t shoot the target if it is not correctly identified”. I would suspect the onus on a professional military sniper is no greater, nor no less than that borne by a recreational hunter.

          Henry Cooke continued to summarise Hit and Run as quoted below;

          “The authors say soon after the sniper deaths “all hell broke loose”. Apache helicopters flown by the US but directed by NZ “began a ferocious attack on Khak Khuday Dad village, circling and attacking repeatedly”. This indiscriminate fire focused on three houses and killed three-year-old Fatima and a relative of hers Abdul Faqir, the authors say.”

          So by all accounts from what I have read to date, what you define as a “battle scene”, I define as “the scene of a civilian village sustaining an unprovoked attack, under the cloak of darkness, so as to bring the “Shock and Awe”, and which had all tactical formations, strategically and unequally stacked to support the SAS.

          It will be interesting to see whether there was a single shot fired in return from the villagers. If there was no return fire then your description of the location and events that transpired, can be hardly phrased as anything other than a complete massacre of civilian villages and innocent people, and definitely cannot be framed in any way as being a “battle scene” for the purpose of trying to minimise or playing down the severity of what transpired that night. The term battle scene requires opposing forces to have had returned fire.

          Other questions that I would like to see being answered concern the defined role of the NZ SAS troops in Afganistan….please correct me if I am wrong, I was under the impression that the SAS did not have a combative role. I would appreciate you updating me on this.

          I would expect a self defence combat role, but it is a “crock of **** for the NZDF to claim self defense if Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were unarmed. Rember the NZ SAS brought the fight to these villiages, not the other way around. The NZSAS was the aggressor, and in an unprovoked manner innocent civilians were killed and injured. After the massacre they did not even have the decency nor honor to help the casualties/victims of the NZDF “****ups”. Just under 7 years…..yes 7 years, this has finally started to gain some traction.

          I commend and highly respect the SAS soldiers that have come forward, and by all counts are sickened by the declaration and medal presentations to other SAS members when their actions/ inactions on this night and two weeks latter, were not befitting of such honors and valor.

          I would also like to know who put the suspected insurgents on the ex-judicial kill list…..was it New Zealanders?, and if so how does that stand with NZ and International laws on human rights and the ability for a person to have a fair trial prior to having been found guilty and then punishiable, which the US has determined consists more often that not as death.

          I personally feel that the use of ex-judicial capture and kill lists are in themselves tantamount to administrative processes that is directly associated with “war crimes”, with those captured regularly being tortured or assasinated off the list when they have never been fairly tried for suspected actions and or inactions.

          Ex- judicial killings have yet to have their day in the international courts, and I suspect that those whom have been involved in the preparation, and or use of the lists to have killed without a fair trial, and even worse kill civilians as acceptable collateral damage, are on very unstable grounds.

          • lprent 3.2.2.2.1

            I find it hard to believe given the restrictions that you attribute to the night vision apparatus available to the marksman (and their rifles sights), when the soldiers would have been strategically placed for the kill shots, that the snipers (if they were the soldiers that made the shots) were not required to have had used the best night vision equipment available to the SAS sniper,

            Depends what kind of gear they were using and what the ambient light is.

            With IR you can’t see things like weapons unless they have been fired (ie they are hot).

            With low-light, you need some light. An operation after midnight would require a moon and a lack of overcast and/or some artificial lighting. I can’t remember any such details in the book from my quick scan read. Perhaps someone could look them up.

            Besides you often can’t see things with LL like military style weapons because they’re usually black. Often if people are coming towards you, you can’t even get that because weapons would usually be held forward.

            Mostly what you see are outlines – not the kinds of details you’re after. This is pretty much a limitation of the physics of electronics. Good compared to normal human night vision. Not that good.

            But a lot depended on what was expected at the site and what the terms of engagement were from that intel.

            • mpledger 3.2.2.2.1.1

              Surely, going in at night is a huge failure in of itself.

              If the ability to discriminate between civilians and insurgents is impossible under those conditions then the attack should never have happened under those conditions.

              Unless the reality is that they didn’t care about being able to tell the difference.

              • McFlock

                Well, they cared more about it not being them what get seen and shot than they cared about the men unlucky enough to run towards them.

                That’s why they dressed in camouflage and went in at night.

                • mpledger

                  But there is a difference between darkness and dawn.

                  Get in place in darkness, go in with first light.

              • exkiwiforces

                For this type of operation they would’ve used night time to maintain the element of surprise as any unit would do regardless if they are SF or not. That’s why i’m and others are looking at faulty Intell as the reason for this operation to have gone pear shape in a big way and the resulting cover up.
                For a SAS operation of this sort and remember NZ SAS is a strategic asset for the government just like the spooks, most missions if not all of them in this case would have been signed off the government once he or she is happy with the checks and balances. A good example of is that British movie about a Armed UAV strike in Kenya that came a 1 to 2 years ago.

                Hence why faulty Intell is probably main reason for this balls up or whatever you want to call it.

            • silvertuatara 3.2.2.2.1.2

              I suppose my veiws are lprent, that the NZSAS sniper/s given that it was a planned night mission, had employment/personal/human rights obligations and responsibilities to have had packed from the NZ base and transported with them to the land based position where they took the kill shot/s, the correct and most advanced night visual apparatus available to them for the sole purpose of being able to identify whether a person is armed or unarmed, so that an unarmed civilian’s life is not ended by the sniper shooting indiscriminately without first ascertaining whether the person was armed. They were then obligated to use the correct visual recognition apparatus/kit prior to and during taking the Kill shots.

              And if the sniper was not able to have identified weapons on Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin then the kill shots should not have been made.

              Your comments about the limitations of any night vision apparatus for the most part are irrelevant in my view, because the sole determinant that night to discriminate whether Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were suspected “insurgents”, was and remains whether they were armed with weapons.

              The sniper/s had no right to have had shot and killed Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin that night without having first made the determination as to whether either man was armed, reserving the kill shot/s until after the snipers were certain that either Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were in fact armed. From what I have gleaned so far from the media reports, they were not armed and were also not suspected insurgents on the NZSAS targeted list.

              Again the basic rule off shooting applies…. if you cannot correctly identify your target (in this case for the SAS sniper/s requires them to have had correctly confirmed that Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were armed, to have made them an insurgent target as opposed to frightened civilians who sought to protect themselves by seeking safe shelter).

              In addition to the visual apparatus available to the SAS Sniper, I have yet to read as to whether the snipers gave Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin, verbal warnings in Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin’s native dialect, that they had sniper/s bullets trained on them, and risked being killed if they did not comply with the SAS capture and identification process and whether the snipers had even requested each of the men to stop and drop to the ground for the purposes of target identification (insurgent/unarmed civilian).

              In the event that the the SAS snipers were unable to verify whether Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were armed with weapons or not, then this would have been the next appropriate step within the capturing and identification process for the SAS snipers to have taken, and should have been enacted instead of the SAS snipers having taken the kill shots. Simply demanding the two civilians to raise their hands would have allowed the snipers to have easily identified whether the men were carrying guns/weapons and have had prevented two indiscriminate civilian killings.

              If this option was provided to Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin, and they chose to run in panic anyway, there was nothing stoping the SAS snipers in taking a non lethal shot to the leg to disable either man, and therefore maintaining each man’s Human Right’s to have the right to live.

              Remember that prior to the SAS marksmen taking the kill shots, the situation was reportedly under control, and it was not until SAS Snipers had killed innocent civilians Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin, that the carnage involving the American air support firing indiscriminately at homes and innocent civilians started.

              It is my view from what I have read to date, that the SAS snipers who took the kill shots have a case to answer re culpabity, for not having correctly identified their target prior to shooting, and furthermore that non lethal capture and identification 101 techniques as described above were not utilised to further discriminate between the targeted insurgents and Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin who proved to be an innocent civilian farmer and teacher respectively, and lastly that the snipers did not shot to disable, as opposed to shot to kill, so as to retain and respect Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin’s rights to life.

              This may be the reason it has been reported that discontent within the SAS ranks themselves, over the awarding of distinctions, and or medals for acts that were not befitting of such valor and honor to persons whom their peers were not comfortable them accepting and or being rightfully awarded in the first place.

              Should it come to light that the SAS snipers were provided with “superior orders”* that night “to shoot to kill first and ask questions later” or similar, then in defense the snipers may contest legally, that they were just following superior orders, whereas the counterargument will probably be founded on Nuremberg Principal IV which I quote from Wikipedia* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_orders;

              “Thus, under Nuremberg Principle IV, “defense of superior orders” is not a defense for war crimes, although it might influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty. Nuremberg Principle IV states:

              “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.””

              New Zealanders need to know through an independent injury whether any superior orders had been effected prior to or during the raid, that may have influenced the SAS snipers to have used lethal force as opposed to standard non lethal military capture, containment and identification procedures which the SAS and NZ Military use and train for. Why did the NZDF require John Key’s approval prior to the mission being approved?

              Eitherway the SAS marksman/men who took the Kill shots should be immediately stood down from their sniping role, perhaps not the SAS, until the completion of an independent investigation.

              With the developments since Tuesday night, perhaps the SAS sniper/s involved may even take it upon themselves to relinquish any and all distinction and or medals awarded to them if they are in anyway associated with their actions and inactions which were directly responsible for ending the lives of Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin.

              • lprent

                In other words you’d like the terms of engagement changed to massively increase the danger to the soldiers.

                I suspect that with any form of night vision gear under the kinds of conditions described, that the two killed would have had to have advanced within a 20 or even 10 meters before the soldiers could identify positively that there were no weapons at night. That is mutual suicide range.

                So my question to you is – why are you so mindlessly intent on killing soldiers?

                • silvertuatara

                  Iprent, I hope that all New Zealanders will end up finding out what the NZSAS defined as the rules of engagement on the night concerned…..do you think that the SAS advised either Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin, or anyone else in the village of such rules of engagement prior to arriving that night, or prior to shooting them dead that night?

                  And in terms of engagement of the SAS in Afganistan…what is the SAS’s role “mentoring?”, or do they now have full combative details?Please advise if you know. This old article by Nicky Hager http://www.nickyhager.info/phantom-soldiers/, if history repeats itself would suggest that the SAS may play a wider role in the conflict in Afganistan than the ex PM and NZDF want the general population to be aware of.

                  I also think that you grossly underestimate the skills and abilities of the highly trained SAS snipers, and soldiers…the area of the body in which the snipers bullet/s targeted, combined with the villagers account of where Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were felled in relation to the snipers positions will hopefully now be fully and publicly investigated, and should provide a more accurate forensic account of the ballistics, and the accuracy of the sniper from a measured distance, than a person randomly making suppositions that Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin were within 20 or 10 meters of the SAS snipers.

                  If we use your example above in which you suggest that an unarmed civilian within a range of 20-10 meters of a NZ SAS member deserves to be fatally shot. Then answer me this, during the sweep of the villages, why did the remainder of the SAS soldiers not shot and kill every other civilian with which they came within the radius of that you suggest, based solely on the premise that they might be an insurgent, and or maybe armed.

                  I will tell you why, it is because the SAS and NZ soldiers are highly trained and skilled in non lethal capture and identification techniques, in close confines. But hey…the sign off allegedly came from John Key….is this because the NZDF wanted to change the rules of engagement prior to this raid? We will probably never know the answer to that one unless Mateparae has a crisis of confidence and reveals all in years to come.

                  As for your following statement;

                  “So my question to you is – why are you so mindlessly intent on killing soldiers?”

                  Wow, with me leaning towards being a pacifist, and having expressed my concerns for the innocent civilian’s killed by SAS snipers, I am saddened to have read your somewhat random and wildly inaccurate extrapolation in a direction so far removed from me conveying my perspective in relation to the culpability of the SAS snipers concerned.

                  It cuts me up just as much as any other New Zealander when a soldier is killed in action, and having had relatives that have fought for NZ and Australia wide and far, our family respects those that have lost their lives in conflict zones….not only on ANZAC day but year round. My wife, son and I could not have been prouder when Willie Apiata handed our 6 year boy a NZ WW100 commemorative pin, so please refrain from such hurtful comments since I wish the loss of life on no person.

                  I have however noticed the obfuscation, and minimisation of the cupability associated with the actions and inactions of those involved in the raids, that has come thick and fast through the Media.

                  As a New Zealander that is a staunch believer in human rights, and strongly feels that the injustices suffered by the civilians killed, maimed and or lost family members during the NZ SAS led raids are only just starting to become heard through the actions and investigative efforts of Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, and followed through with by a top and well respected legal team of Deborah Manning, Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod, I am more than comfortable trying to bring some perspective to counter the spin that has commenced in an attempt to sweep the injustices of the victims of a NZ raid that went so wrong, back under the carpet where they have been for the best part of the last 6 1/2 years.

                  The NZDF and the National Government just has to fess up, come clean, and be seen to be redressing these injustices with out any further undue delay, to start repairing the NZ SAS’s reputation

          • exkiwiforces 3.2.2.2.2

            With targets moving the SAS snipers would have aimed for centre of seen mass and from my dealing with snipers a head shot is only obtainable when the is stationary. Just remember a sniper team work as a pair so there would be a spotter usually the No 1 and the number is the shooter. So the No1 would been calling the shots and range.

            • silvertuatara 3.2.2.2.2.1

              Thanks again for sharing your knowledge exkiwiforces.

              Lets hope then that an independent inquiry is launched by the National Government so that accounts of all involved during the raid (and repeated raid), and the accounts of the surviving villagers, their families and civilians of the two villages and authorities that have been involved in any way are considered in the inquiry’s findings and recommendations, that should extend to include the restorative justice and compensation required to address such a poorly executed raid.

              I would be surprised if the scope of any pending inquiry does not involve a forensic and retrospective examination of the positioning of the SAS snipers in relation to the locations where Abdul Qayoom and Islamuddin fell dead after being shot, determining also how many times each was shot, together with the location of the entry and exit wounds.

              A fully transparent, independent and public inquiry will be the most appropriate forum for these determinations to be made and I am sure that the well respected legal team of Deborah Manning, Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod, will be covering such matters in their pending correspondence setting out what they deem should be included within the scope of reference for a pending independent inquiry.

  4. Keith 4

    I fear that this will be used as another excuse for even more state spying on its citizens. Its not enough that we are being monitored and watched without consent 24/7, with only the protection or exact opposite from the likes of John Key and other like minded rich men, there will have to be an increase.

    Of course none of the spying thus far has stopped much has it, it didn’t stop this guy, how could it? But then again it was never meant to was it? From Snowden onward it has became quite apparent that this spying was an is an opportunity and an essential tool in ensuring wealthy people remain wealthy by knowing what customers (fellow human beings) and competition are thinking, voting and doing.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      The counter-argument: spying is a humanitarian act.

      1. Sun Tzu said: Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the State.

      The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop down exhausted on the highways.

      As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labour.

      2. Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day.

      This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy’s condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honours and emoluments, is the height of inhumanity.

      3. One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

      Do you think a truly democratic state could survive without it?

      Edit: just to be clear, this is not an argument for a state to spy on its own citizens. I regard that as a war crime: the deployment of military force against civilians in peacetime.

  5. Ant 5

    Given the US’s record of recurring faulty intelligence with ongoing civilian slaughter it is regrettable we did not verify the authenticity of the alleged insurgent target first.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Think about that in practical terms: the SAS, deployed for political reasons, required, for political reasons, to consider US intelligence reports…

      Goodness knows whether individual members of the SAS live up to these honourable standards: that is what the chain of command is for.

      With that deal-making money trader at the helm, did we actually have a chain of command at all?

    • Conal Tuohy 5.2

      NZ fighters should not have been there at all, of course

  6. adam 6

    Can we use the word conspiracy yet? It’s quite funny, as I know Wayne has used that word to deride people in the past. Irony? This is a case were people conspired to tell Wayne porkies. No far out theory, no outlandish plot, just a group of people who collaborated to pervert the truth. I agree with you lprent, the failure to respect democratic oversight is deeply disturbing.

    Rather than make a pacifist case, I think the case for us not to be involved in these wars is now stronger that ever. The mandate for war is not there, but we are fighting in at least two. Two wars that appear to me, to have no agenda, except maybe to support our buddy America. Nothing good can come from these wars. And so far nothing has.

    As for what happened in London and the reporting. I agree with what Bill said yesterday, the media are so full of the ‘terror’ line, they just repeat it with out thinking. Coupled with every time someone does this – the state ratchets up the fear, and attempts to control people more. It’s a stupid cycle of irrational propaganda, rather than facing the reality – out of anomie comes violence.

  7. dukeofurl 7

    The Key figure is Mateparae. It seems the raid was done with ‘extraordinary’ US resources for his benefit , sitting in a Kabul command centre ( likely at Bagram AB , 60km away) and surrounded by the ubiquitous large screens.

    You can see how intelligence was secondary to the timing of the visit by a NZ Lieutenant general to the area.

    Perhaps the recent visit by Brownlee and General Keating to Iraq , would have involved some village being shot up but for the NZ policy of ‘staying within the wire’

  8. Adrian Thornton 8

    The interview by Tom Furley with Wayne Mapp yesterday on RNZ morning report was just inept. Furly never asked wether there was return fire, in response to Mapps assertion that the SAS believed they where under attack, never asked if any weapons where recovered from the village…what exactly was the point of that interview, we learned nothing.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201837663/mapp-sas-not-guilty-of-war-crimes-operation-a-fiasco

    English is allowed to conduct a press interview, with at least ten journalists present, and asserts that there are obvious political motivations for the book, yet not once did a journalist ask him to unpack that statement… where in the book is there political motivations, please explain that statment? what unnamed sources are you revering too etc? it’s not fucking brain surgery to be able come up with a couple of questions for him to answer…but no.

    It’s no wonder that so many people I meet are so incredibly uninformed, how can your average punter, who doesn’t care to spent their time digging for facts, possibly form legitimate conclusions about almost any news story, when this is the pathetic level of information they have pumped (dribbled more like) into their cranium.

    Key was just the man for such an uninformed public.

  9. ianmac 9

    In addition to all of the above, how come the SAS went back two weeks later and destroyed the homes of the villagers?
    As a punishment maybe for getting in the way of the bullets from superior highly armed forces?

    • silvertuatara 9.1

      Quoting directly from an informative, piece ” Six questions we can answer about the SAS incident, and three we can’t” by HENRY COOKE Last updated 13:03, March 24 2017 found at http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/90801107/six-questions-we-can-answer-about-the-sas-incident-and-three-we-cant;

      “In a final allegation related to the raid – but certainly not the final allegation of the book – the authors claim the SAS returned about ten days later for a second raid on the village of Naik. They allege an SAS team returned to the already-destroyed house of an insurgent who was not there, warned villagers to clear the area, then blew up the houses again, destroying what his family had begun to rebuild.

      “It was to punish them,” an unnamed SAS is said to have told the authors. It was “pure revenge” that the SAS did it “just to f… them up.” “

      • ianmac 9.1.1

        On the face of it silver, pretty awful.
        I imagine that the Army chiefs will fight tooth and bullet to avoid an enquiry as to do so would expose them as liars and cheats. The politicians would also have the same will to avoid as it would expose them to be gullible and therefore incompetent.
        Shouldn’t have become political but delay and denigrating the messengers will make it more political. Imagine how Brownlie will react when he gets home!

        • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.1.1

          gullible and therefore incompetent

          Or looking for ways to curry favour with the USA to get a trade deal, and not giving a shit about the consequences for villagers and our troops.

      • lprent 9.1.2

        That also interests me, especially as the book says that at least the intelligence people knew very soon after the raid that they had not gotten their targets and had instead killed civilians.

        I’d be very interested in reading a mission report with its reasoning for that mission.

  10. Patricia 10

    Trust Nikky Hager a big spoilt person — Ghost at every corner–strange — Book has hit public—same day John Key leaving parliament– some people do have them–all shouting that has followed let us be patient–every war there are the innocent victims

  11. Andrew O 11

    When you say:

    “As a consequence I suspect that I’m going to have to deal up with the usual gormless anti-immigrant bigots today”

    I think you’re missing the point here.

    Few care where the attacker was born, even on the far right. What really matters is his religion because that (of course) is the common denominator in all this. The left have to yet to face up to this fact, I suspect because they’re still recovering from the myth of multiculturalism as perpetrated in the Blair era.

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