Brendan Nicholson & Jeremy Kelly, in The Australian, 21 June 2011
When American and Afghan special forces finally cornered the renegade Afghan soldier who murdered Australian army chef Andrew Jones, he pulled out a pistol before Coalition soldiers shot and killed him. They had hoped to capture Shafied Ullah alive to find out why he killed Lance Corporal Jones in Forward Operating Base Mashal on May 30. They had also hoped to find out how Ullah had made it so far across the mountains of southernAfghanistan, from the small stone fort in the Chora Valley of Oruzgan province to his home district of Tanai in Khost Province, near the border withPakistan. Despite the efforts of Coalition and Afghan troops to capture him, Ullah had eluded search teams for three weeks – until Sunday.
Julia Gillard said yesterday although nothing could take away the grief that Lance Corporal Jones’s family carried, Ullah’s death was a “small measure of justice for his loss of life”.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday: “Obviously we would have preferred that Shafied Ullah was captured to enable interrogation to occur as to the circumstances surrounding his murder of Lance Corporal Jones . . . But as you’ll see from the advice from the Chief of the Defence Force and the Defence Department, Ullah placed himself in a position where he was a direct threat to special forces and, as a consequence, in a resulting fire fight or gun fire, he was killed.”
A spokesman for coalition forces in Afghanistan said the soldiers who had killed Ullah detained several men believed to have helped him escape, including the Afghan soldier’s brother.
The spokesman said the special forces team also found weapons including hand grenades, AK-47 assault rifles and magazines of ammunition.
Mr Smith said Ullah had been positively identified from biometric information about him collected when he was recruited into the Afghan forces.
Mr Smith said Australians played a limited part in the operation but he declined to say what that role was. The coalition spokesman said Ullah had not had an affiliation with any insurgent network. Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston said there had been “tremendous efforts” across the coalition and the Afghan National Security Forces directed towards bringing the man suspected of the shooting to justice”.
“While it gives me no great pleasure that Ullah is dead, I am pleased that this man no longer poses a threat,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said. “A man believed to be his brother was also detained in the operation and is now being questioned in an effort to further understand the motive behind the shooting of Lance Corporal Jones.” While Ullah’s motive for the killing has gone to the grave with him, Lance Corporal Jones’s platoon commander, Captain Nick Perriman, reportedly said there was information that the killer possessed “anti-ISAF sentiments”, in reference to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.