On September 9th, ex-SAS Soldier and Veterans For Peace activist Ben Griffin spoke at an event organised by Galway Alliance Against War. Among other things he talked about the brutal scenes he witnessed in Iraq that led to him leaving the army and speaking out against war.
Ben was brought up in a military family, joined the army cadets at 13 and became a soldier at 19. He served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
He was deployed to Baghdad in 2005 alongside the American special forces. “In Iraq we were told we were out to catch ‘high-value targets" he said in a report for Wales Online. What we were actually doing was attacking civilians in their homes. We would sneak up to someone’s house in the middle of the night armed with rifles and pistols, explosives and grenades. We would drag them from their beds, put the men in one room and the women and children in the other,” he said. “While interrogations were taking place, I would ransack the house and take their computers, mobile phones, money, banks statements and passports – anything we would consider of importance or value to that civilian family.”
"Those operations would take between 10 and 20 minutes" according to Ben. “The men would be put in plasticuffs which are like cable ties for the wrists. Any men we found of military age were detained, whether we were looking for them or not. By being there they were guilty of something.”
They would be dragged out with the family’s belongings.
“We’d leave the family with a hole where the door was, their house turned upside down and no males – no breadwinners, no heroes of the family. We were being told these were dangerous men we were picking up.”
But he no longer believes this was true and said he was left “angry” by the experience.
“The house we were living in was one that one of Saddam’s henchmen had lived in,” Ben said. “The prisons we were using were the same prisons. We had replaced Saddam [Hussein] with us. We had appropriated his palaces to become military bases. “It tore me apart.”
Watch the full recording of Ben's captivating talk in Galway, in these four videos.