Footage captured on the helmet camera of an Australian SAS soldier in Afghanistan has shown him shooting an unarmed Afghan man dead at close range three times in the head and chest while he cowered on the ground.
The video, which was revealed by the ABC News channel, is at odds with what soldiers told investigators who ruled the killing was self-defence.
The video shows the SAS patrol disembarking from one of two Black Hawk helicopters before fanning out near the village of Deh Jawz-e Hasanzai.
The incident happened in May 2012 when 3 Squadron SAS was looking for an alleged bombmaker.
In the video the soldier trains his M4 assault rifle on the man from a range of between 1 and 2 metres.
The man rolls onto his back, his legs drawn up. In his right hand is what appears to be a set of red prayer beads. He is still as the soldier keeps the weapon pointed at his head.
After more than 20 seconds the soldier turns to the dog handler.
“You want me to drop this c***?”
“I don’t know mate. Hit ***** up,” replies the dog handler, referring to the patrol commander, who has taken up a position nearby.
The soldier turns to the commander. “You want me to drop this c***?”
The soldier asks the commander a second time: “You want me to drop this c***?”
The patrol commander’s response is inaudible on the video.
The soldier then fires the first shot into the Afghan man on the ground. As the dog streaks towards the prone man, and the handler calls for him to come back, the soldier pumps two more bullets into the victim.
The dead man’s name was Dad Mohammad, and he was thought to be 25 or 26 years old. His killing was investigated by the Australian Defence Force in the wake of a complaint from tribal elders.
The SAS soldier who shot Dad Mohammad claimed the Afghan had been shot because he had been seen with a radio. But the footage does not show any radio, only the prayer beads in the man’s hand.
The soldier C also claimed he fired from 15 to 20 metres away in self-defence. However, the video shows Dad Mohammad still and quiet on the ground for more than 20 seconds, before the soldier, standing over him, shoots him three times from fewer than 2 metres away.
Investigators concluded that the Afghan was lawfully killed because he posed a direct threat to the Australians.
Following the ABC revelations, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force said it was investigating “whether there is any substance to rumour and allegations” about possible war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.