Australian soldiers killed an Afghan in 2010 based on a Dutch tip
In the spring of 2010, Australian soldiers killed and possibly tortured an Afghan man called Abdul Jalil after a Dutch soldier told them where to find him. The soldiers believed Jalil had made a bomb that killed two Dutch soldiers, but an investigation by Dutch intelligence officers concluded that the Australians were mistaken and the man was an innocent civilian. The Dutch armed forces released him a few weeks before the Australian soldiers went after him, NRC reports.
On 17 April 2010, soldiers Jeroen Houweling and Marc Harders were killed in an attack. In the following days, Australian soldiers informed the Dutch forces that “Mulah Jalil” had made the roadside bomb used in the attack. The Dutch troops arrested Jalil at his home on 21 April and delivered him to Camp Holland.
Dutch intelligence officers interrogated the man and gathered evidence. They concluded that the Australians and Dutch soldiers were mistaken. There was no evidence that Jalil was involved in the attack, nor that he was the feared bomb-maker known as “the facilitator.” The intelligence officers concluded that he was an innocent civilian and released him from custody on 25 April.
According to NRC, the Dutch soldier and deputy company commander who told the Australians where to find Abdul Jalil after his release told his story in an online interview with an artist in August 2020. The artist collected veterans’ stories and made paintings to accompany them.
The Dutch soldier said in the interview that Abdul Jalil was “neatly back in his house” after his release. The Dutch soldiers were frustrated by the release. “Two weeks later, Australian special forces arrived at our compound, and I then went to talk to one of those lieutenants, and I said: hey, you know where to look? In that cottage. So they flew there, and yes, in the end… He didn’t survive, let’s put it that way.”
The soldier made these statements several months before the publication of the Brereton report on Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, the Dutch Ministry of Defense stressed to NRC. The soldier “realizes that his statements will be viewed differently after the release of the Australian investigation.” According to the Ministry, he never intended “to send the Australians to the man, but to point them to the quala [the man’s home] as a suspicious location.”
Jalil was killed by Australian soldiers on 10 May. Multiple informants told Dutch intelligence officers that Jalil had been tortured and killed, according to the newspaper. An intelligence officer wrote a report about it, but the Ministry of Defense never launched an investigation or raised the matter with the Australians.
The Ministry of Defense and the Australian Public Prosecution Service are now investigating how Jalil died. The Dutch intelligence officer’s report is not part of that investigation because it has gone missing, according to NRC. Not only the report but the entire disk on which the report was saved is missing, sources told the newspaper. The Ministry of Defense is currently searching its digital and paper archives for that information.