Tag Archives: Mike Martin

The truth about SAS shoot-to-kill night raids.

Mark Nichol for The Mail on Sunday has interviewed a former SAS soldier who claims that illegal killings were an unwritten rule of the job. The source claims that, in direct contravention of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), unarmed Afghans were routinely killed but only after high-level intelligence confirmed their identity as Taliban commanders rather than civilians. ‘We went in hard and I admit the tactics do sound gruesome, but these were bad men. We hunted them down only after their guilt had been established by a network of local informants as well as our various high-tech assets.’

Meanwhile in the Sunday Times, Dr Mike Martin a former British army officer has revealed how he expressed severe misgivings about “flawed” intelligence used to justify the raids during top secret “board meetings” in which SAS targets were identified. ‘The special forces night raids set our campaign back massively because they killed so many of the wrong people. They acted on very poor intelligence even when they knew it was poor.’

So which account is correct? To my mind it hardly matters. Both clearly indicate that basic principles governing the use of force were deliberately ignored.

As I have said elsewhere, ‘British forces worked under very very strict rules of engagement but it seemed to me that special forces did not have to apply the same rules in quite the same way.’ .

The Mail on Sunday’s informant clearly believes that these actions were justified and that ultimately they saved British lives, but I take a different view. If British soldiers were targeted in their homes and killed, unarmed in front of their families we would all, rightly, be outraged at such wicked and cowardly tactics. The murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby springs to mind. Even in war soldiers are not above the law.



“Absolutely fantastic. Vivid. Tragic. True. This is the book to read on service in Afghanistan.”
So says Dr Mike Martin of SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence.
His own book, An Intimate War, described as ‘the first serious effort to make sense of the war in Helmand’ by Tom Coghlan of The Times caused a media furore when the Ministry of Defence tried to block its publication because it criticised the British military. It has subsequently received widespread national and international recognition as ‘the book on Helmand’.
Mike has travelled and lived all over the world in order to try and understand conflict. He is a War Studies Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London. His other books include Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place and Why We Fight.
Mike Martin books

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘First class’
Doug Beattie, bestselling author of An Ordinary Soldier

‘A must read.’
Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zone

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars

‘Five stars’
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

‘Not just for soldiers’
William Reeve, BBC World Service and Afghanistan Correspondent

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.