SAS soldier quits Army in disgust
at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq
By Sean Rayment, Defence
soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army
over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the
policies of coalition forces.
months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he
was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces.
Ben Griffin told
commanders that he thought the Iraq war was illegal
He said he
had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops,
claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the
Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.
marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into
combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.
immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary,
eight-year career in which he also served with the
Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern
Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan.
But it will
also embarrass the Government and have a potentially
profound impact on cases of other soldiers who have
refused to fight.
the pre-trial hearing will begin into the court martial of
Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a Royal Air Force doctor who
has refused to return to Iraq for a third tour of duty on
the grounds that the war is illegal. Mr Griffin's
allegations came as the Foreign Office minister Kim
Howells, visiting Basra yesterday, admitted that Iraq was
now "a mess".
28, who spent two years with the SAS, said the American
military's "gung-ho and trigger happy mentality" and
tactics had completely undermined any chance of winning
the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population. He added
that many innocent civilians were arrested in night-time
raids and interrogated by American soldiers, imprisoned in
the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, or handed over to the
Iraqi authorities and "most probably" tortured.
eventually told SAS commanders at Hereford that he could
not take part in a war which he regarded as "illegal".
He added that
he now believed that the Prime Minister and the Government
had repeatedly "lied" over the war's conduct.
"I did not
join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy,"
he said. He expected to be labelled a coward and to face a
court martial and imprisonment after making what "the most
difficult decision of my life" last March.
was discharged with a testimonial describing him as a
"balanced, honest, loyal and determined individual who
possesses the strength of character to have the courage of
Patrick Mercer, the shadow minister for homeland security,
said: "Trooper Griffin is a highly experienced soldier.
This makes his decision particularly disturbing and his
views and opinions must be listened to by the Government."
declined to comment.