UK Special Forces veto immigration applications for Afghan troops they fought with

Back in February 2024, the BBC reported that the United Kingdom had rejected resettlement applications for Afghan commandos who fought alongside British soldiers in the fight against the Taliban. From that original report:

When the Taliban swept to power in August 2021, members of Afghan Special Forces units CF 333 and ATF 444 – known as the "Triples" – were among the groups most at risk of reprisal, having supported UK Special Forces in their fight against the Taliban.

They were eligible to apply for resettlement to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme, but hundreds had their applications rejected. Dozens have reportedly been beaten, tortured, or killed by the Taliban since.

Those Afghani troops knew what they were signing up for, of course. That was the deal: they agreed to work with British forces in exchange for repatriation and protection from retaliation.

Then the British government did one of the things that imperial powers do best: absolutely refuse to uphold their end of the bargain, abandoning their brothers-in-arms to be brutalized by the Taliban.

When the news first broke, the BBC asked the British Ministry of Defense if they had any sort of unique veto power over these immigration applications. Mighty they have any sway in the decision-making process, one way or the other?

At the time, Minister of Defense Luke Pollard denied the accusations. But the UK government has since admitted that that's not true. From new BBC reporting:

Under a standard operating procedure previously in use, UK Special Forces assessments had been used by MoD caseworkers to decide whether or not to proceed with Triples' resettlement applications. That essentially gave them a veto over the applications.

Speaking to the BBC, [former SNP defense spokesperson Stewart] McDonald said the reversal was "an extraordinary admission by the UK government, and a complete and utter betrayal of those Afghan men who fought alongside UK personnel and now face being hunted and executed by the Taliban".

Curiously, the British government is also conducting an ongoing Independent Inquiry Relating to Afghanistan to investigate allegations that Special Forces committed war crimes in the country, including the killing of unarmed detainees and civilians alike. And those Afghan soldiers who were denied resettlement in the country? Well…

Former members of the Triples who had their relocation applications rejected in 2023 … say they witnessed or reported what appeared to them to be war crimes committed by UK Special Forces.


One made a number of complaints to the British military at the time of those operations. He alleged that the SAS had committed war crimes, and even withdrew his men from their supporting role in SAS operations in protest at what he alleged were extrajudicial killings of Afghan civilians.

That move set off a crisis within UK Special Forces, forcing senior British officers to attempt to defuse the situation and bring the Afghan partner units back on side.

It sure sounds like the British military may have allegedly engaged in some light, casual war crimes, then screwed over the Afghan soldiers who may have allegedly witnessed it by denying them entry into the country in order to cover their own asses!

Minister: Special forces had veto on Afghan troops [Hannah O'Grady, Joel Gunter and Rory Tinman / BBC]