Somalia Affair: The whistleblower
Canadian peacemakers were lauded as heroes when they went into an untamed land ruled by rebels. Their mission, Operation Deliverance, charged them with restoring order in Somalia. But in fact, the Canadian Airborne regiment was splitting apart at the seams, lacking both leadership and accountability. Murder after murder, the troops came home disgraced. Tracks were covered and responsibility shifted up and down the chain of command during an investigation that would dismantle the army and implicate the government in a high-level cover-up.
Military reports said that Airborne soldiers were defending the base and that "everybody behaved exactly as they were supposed to." Sensing the incident would be swept under the carpet, Armstrong shared his concerns with his wife Jennifer. She took her husband's story to the press, triggering a public outcry for an inquiry. Armstrong has since become the pivotal figure in the Somalia investigation, the reluctant whistleblower who wanted to believe only the best of his colleagues.
. During the Somalia inquiry in 1997, Maj. Armstrong came under fire for his accusations of murder regarding the death of Achmed Aruush. Lt.-Col. Carol Mathieu described Armstrong as "certifiable." Others said that Armstrong had plans to sell morphine on the black market. Armstrong refuted these accusations.
. This CBC Television report followed the testimony of Armstrong who defended his findings. "This man was wounded. He was in a crippled state and then was finished off with this killing blow, intentionally inflicted, to the head and neck. I trust the soldiers I'm with. I would dearly like that there could be some wonderful explanation about how these things could be achieved - these wounds could be achieved in a nice way."
. A Canadian pathologist testified before the inquiry that he believed that Aruush hadn't been shot at from close range but rather from a discernable distance.
. The Somalia inquiry also heard testimony that Aruush and Sabrie were baited with food and water.
. The Somalia Inquiry found that Aruush never posed a threat to the Canadians. Except for a ceremonial dagger which was never pulled, Aruush was defenceless. The Somalia inquiry's report, Dishonoured Legacy, stated that "the evidence leads to the conclusion that the shooting of Mr. Aruush was motivated purely by the goal of completing the mission by preventing his escape, not by the need to respond to a threat."
. Armstrong had served for 20 years in the Canadian military. Six months after he returned from Somalia, he retired. As of 1998, he was practicing as a general surgeon in Dryden, Ont.
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: May 5, 1993
Guest(s): Jennifer Armstrong, Barry Armstrong
Host: Peter Mansbridge, Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Brian Stewart
Last updated: November 8, 2012
Page consulted on November 7, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
Somalia is ravaged by civil war, perpetual battle and widespread famin...
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Maj. Barry Armstrong speaks for the first time about what he believes ...
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