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Military spies investigate alleged Afghanistan veteran’s suicide note

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Britain’s military spy agency is investigating the origin of a letter that emerged on social media purporting to be a suicide note by a veteran who claimed to have taken his life following the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, Sky News has learnt.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, instructed Defence Intelligence to look into the note amid concerns it might be a hoax, according to a defence source.

“That work is ongoing now,” the source said.

Members of the UK Armed Forces taking part in the evacuation from Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Pic: MoD
Image: Members of the UK armed forces pictured taking part in the evacuation from Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Photo: MoD

It is thought the investigation will likely confirm there is no record, within the armed services of the person named as the author of the alleged suicide note, having ever served.

The individual also claimed to have lost his left arm in an attack in Afghanistan.

Yet the defence source said Veterans UK, a part of the Ministry of Defence that supports former servicemen and women, also has no record of anyone with that name or date of birth.

There is still a chance the note is authentic, but no evidence has emerged yet to support it, leaving open the question of why anyone would post such a forgery.

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One possibility could be a hostile state seeking to inflict damage on Britain’s reputation by creating a false story about a suicide directly linked to the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan – even though there are genuine concerns about such a risk.

Another possibility is that it is simply a post by some malicious, lone individual.

The note, which has been posted on Facebook and on Twitter, was also seen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

In it, the author claimed to have been driven to suicide after suffering trauma from his service in Afghanistan – emotions the note alleged were compounded after the US-led withdrawal from the country last month and the Taliban takeover.

James Heappey, the armed forces minister, was so concerned by its content that he even talked, very powerfully, about how a former soldier was believed to have taken their own life in recent days, during an interview on Sky News’ Kay Burley show on Monday morning.

He then retracted his statement, posting on Twitter in response to a post I wrote: “Debbie, I’m sorry to have said something that might not be true. The note referred very accurately to my last tour of Afghanistan with 2 RIFLES in 2009 & I’ve spent weekend fearing colleague had taken their life. However, MoD aren’t certain that note is real so wanted to clarify.

“However, we both know too many veterans have taken their lives whilst struggling with mental health illnesses as a consequence of their service in Afghanistan. My main message that we need to put our arms around these people & support them in this difficult time stands… Army & MoD working quickly to establish whether note is real or not.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “We are aware of an alleged suicide letter posted on social media. The legitimacy of this letter is currently being investigated by the MOD and Armed Forces.

“We take the mental health and well-being of our personnel and veterans very seriously and encourage anyone who is struggling to come forward and access the wide range of support available.”

Anyone experiencing difficulties can contact Samaritans UK on 116 123, or by emailing jo@samaritans.org