British soldiers in Afghanistan shown 'war snuff movies'

Camp Bastion's 'Kill TV nights' are intended to update troops on mission's progress, says MoD

Disturbing footage of Apache attack helicopters killing people in Afghanistan is being shown to frontline British soldiers in "Kill TV nights" designed to boost morale, a television documentary will reveal.

The discovery of the practice comes in the wake of the damning verdict of the Baha Mousa inquiry into the conduct of some in the military. It casts fresh questions over the conduct of soldiers deployed abroad and has provoked a furious response from peace campaigners.

Andrew Burgin from Stop the War last night described it as the "ultimate degradation of British troops", comparing it to the desensitisation to death of US soldiers in the final stages of the Vietnam War.

The footage, seen by The Independent on Sunday, shows ground troops at the British headquarters in Helmand province, Camp Bastion, gathered for a get-together said to be called "Kill TV night".

Described as an effort to boost morale among soldiers, it shows an Apache helicopter commander admitting possible errors of judgement and warning colleagues not to disclose what they have seen. "This is not for discussion with anybody else; keep it quiet about what you see up here," he says in the film. "It's not because we've done anything wrong. But we might have done."

Last night, the MoD confirmed the speaker to be Warrant Officer Class 2 Andy Farmer, who is based with the Apache squadron in Wattisham, Suffolk.

Much of the footage is along the lines of the now infamous video of a US Apache helicopter strike on civilians in Baghdad in 2007, first released on WikiLeaks last year. In one clip an Afghan woman is targeted after a radio dialogue between pilots refers to her as a "snake with tits".

Another clip from a recent "Kill TV" night shows the cross-hair of an Apache helicopter taking aim at an insurgent. WOII Farmer gives a running commentary: "OK, so he's walking along... then thinks... I'm gonna go off and get my 70 vessel [sic] virgins 'cause daylight's coming quite quick."

As the missile hits the target and kills the person, he says "Goodnight princess", adding "this is where you see he's actually had the clothes ripped off him by the blast".

He defends the decision to celebrate the deaths of Afghans. "People look at it and say you know... young lads are laughing at the enemy being killed," he says. "Well, I don't know if the Taliban do something similar but I'm sure they rejoice when they kill one of us."

When asked by the interviewer in the film what he thinks goes through the head of a Taliban fighter when they see an Apache coming, WOII Farmer replies: "Hopefully a 30mm bullet".

Later in the film, he is defiant about the moral consequences of war: "We're out there do to a job. We're not there to tickle the Taliban, we're out there to hurt them because they have no qualms about hurting us.

"Of the engagements that I've taken part in... I have absolutely no dramas with it. None at all. I don't really care whether they think it's a fair fight. If they're [the Taliban] gonna pick up a weapon and take us on, then best of luck to them."

But peace campaigners have a different view. Mr Burgin said: "The fact that British soldiers are reduced to watching what are effectively snuff movies shows the complete failure of the project in Afghanistan. It's nothing to do with democracy, but a failure of war that is trickling down and resulting in a mental degradation among ground troops.

"Afghanistan is a dreadful situation and it is no better than it was a decade ago."

The controversy is believed to have prompted a rethink of the way in which the MoD will limit access to soldiers by documentary makers in the future, according to senior sources.

Last night an MoD spokesman denied any wrongdoing. "Regular briefings occur within the Joint Helicopter Force to all their deployed personnel to provide an update on the operations that they have supported," he said. "This in some cases shows footage taken from the Apache."

The footage is included in a three-part series, 'Fighting on the Frontline', that starts on Channel 4 tonight

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas