US soldiers used Afghan civilians’ corpses as trophies

This video from the USA is called Stryker MotorPs Murder Afghan Civilians, Part 1.

From Al Jazeera:

US soldier sentenced in Afghan case

A US soldier, one of 12 facing charges, pleads guilty to shooting unarmed Afghans.

Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 09:48 GMT

A US army medic has been sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to shooting at unarmed Afghan farmers and agreeing to testify against other soldiers accused of terrorising civilians.

“It’s the right thing to do and I’m going to do it,” said Robert Stevens on Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, when asked by the presiding officer why he pleaded guilty to charges.

He will serve his nine months at a detention facility – without pay – and will be demoted to E-1 private, the lowest rank in the army. Stevens will be allowed to stay in the military.

Stevens, 25, admitted opening fire on two Afghan men for no apparent reason, saying he and other soldiers were acting on orders from a squad leader during a patrol in March in Kandahar.

Five of the 12 soldiers named in the case are accused of premeditated murder in the most serious prosecution of alleged atrocities by US military personnel since the war began in late 2001.

At least two of the five are alleged to have collected severed fingers and other human remains as war trophies in Afghanistan and taking photos with corpses.

The three other charges against Stevens were wrongfully tossing a grenade out of his vehicle during a convoy last spring, making false statements to military investigators and dereliction of duty.

The charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon was the most serious of four offences to which Stevens, an Army veteran of 7-1/2 years, pleaded guilty

Unit run amok

On Monday, A US army general ordered a court-martial for another one of the 12 infantrymen accused of terrorising civilians and fellow soldiers as part of a rogue platoon in Afghanistan earlier this year.

David Bram faces charges ranging from conspiracy to commit assault and battery to dereliction of duty and trying to obstruct an investigation that started out as a probe into drug use among the troops.

He is among the seven soldiers accused of lesser charges, including trying to block the investigation, using hashish and severely beating a comrade who blew the whistle.

A court-martial was ordered last month for Jeremy Morlock, the first to be charged in the case and one of five men accused of killing unarmed Afghan villagers.

Under oath in September, Morlock, 22 described another soldier in his unit, Calvin Gibbs, of having “a pure hatred of all Afghanis” and that Gibbs referred to Afghans as “savages”.

Meanwhile, another of the five soldiers facing the more serious charges of killing Afghans for sport and taking grisly trophies from the victims has won a temporary reprieve from murder charge legal action, his lawyer said Saturday.

Army prosecutors allege that Andrew Holmes participated in a plot to execute an Afghan man in January.

The plan, supposedly concocted by ringleader Gibbs and Morlock, involved shooting a civilian and tossing a Russian-made grenade at the man to make it appear he was an enemy combatant.

Holmes’ attorney Dan Conway has slammed the probe into his client’s role in the killing, claiming among other things that the army’s refusal to release photos of the Afghan man’s body impeded Holmes’ right to a fair and open trial.

According to various news reports, the photo show naked bodies of dead Afghans and, allegedly, soldiers posing with the bodies. The military worries that releasing the images could incite an anti-American backlash.

The case began as an investigation into hashish use by members of what was then known as the 5th Stryker Brigade but grew into a probe of what prosecutors have described as a rogue infantry unit.

The Kill Team: Are US military atrocities in Afghanistan just the work of a few “bad apples”?: here.

US embassy cables: Afghanistan ‘goes it alone’ on cluster bomb treaty: here.

More WikiLeaks: Cables describe scale of Afghan corruption as overwhelming – NYT: here.

10 thoughts on “US soldiers used Afghan civilians’ corpses as trophies

  1. US grenade ‘killed Linda Norgrove’

    Thursday 2nd December 2010, 1:50PM GMT.

    Members of the US special forces have been disciplined after an investigation into the death of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan revealed she was killed by a grenade thrown by her would-be rescuers.

    The 36-year-old from the Western Isles died in a blast in Kunar province on October 8 during a failed rescue attempt led by American forces.

    Ms Norgrove, a former United Nations employee, was working for the firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) when she was captured in the Dewagal valley during an ambush on September 26.

    Initial reports suggested she was killed when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest.

    An investigation led by US Major General Joseph Votel and British Brigadier Robert Nitsch found that she died when a grenade was thrown into a gully.

    Intelligence suggested the aid worker was being held in a group of buildings higher up the mountain and it was only when they returned that they found her body.

    Reporting to the Commons, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that although US soldiers reported their use of a grenade, senior officers did not become aware until they examined video footage.

    Mr Hague said: “The investigation team found that the failure to disclose information that a grenade was thrown breached US military law.

    “As a result, members of the rescue team have been disciplined for failing to provide a complete and full account of their actions in accordance with US military procedure.

    “I cannot announce any more details of the disciplinary action taken by the military of another nation, but the fact that this action has been taken will confirm to this House how seriously the US authorities regard this matter.”


  2. Canada probing possible U.S. misconduct in Afghanistan

    AFP December 1, 2010

    MONTREAL – The Canadian military is investigating allegations that an elite U.S. military unit unlawfully killed an unarmed man in Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.

    “These allegations are being investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service,” Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay’s spokesman Jay Paxton told AFP, declining to comment further until charges are officially announced.

    Public television CBC reported that a former Canadian soldier has said he witnessed U.S. Special Operations Forces kill a man who was wounded and unarmed in January 2008.

    The investigations have been taking place behind closed doors, prompting calls from lawmakers for public oversight.

    An earlier probe called Sand Trap examined claims that a Canadian member of Canada’s covert Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) unit was involved in the 2006 lethal shooting of an Afghan who had his hands up in the air as he was surrendering. The investigation ended without charges.

    As part of the new probe — Sand Trap Two — the Canadian military is also examining how commanders responded to the allegations that members of JTF2 witnessed the killing by their U.S. peers.

    Operations by Canada’s special forces are largely kept secret by Ottawa, which has however revealed that they are involved in operations targeting al-Qaida and Taliban leaders.

    The two investigations cover a period from 2005 to 2008, when JTF2 forces were working alongside U.S. Special Forces based out of Kandahar, where 2,800 Canadian soldiers are engaged against the Taliban.


  3. AP NewsBreak: Soldier charged with killing Taliban prisoner sent to mental health facility

    * DAN ELLIOTT Associated Press
    * First Posted: December 02, 2010 – 11:26 pm
    Last Updated: December 02, 2010 – 11:55 pm

    DENVER — A Fort Carson soldier charged with fatally shooting a jailed Taliban member in Afghanistan was transferred to a mental health facility on Thursday, his father said.

    Pfc. David Lawrence was admitted for inpatient treatment, Brett Lawrence told The Associated Press. The father said he the facility is in Colorado, but he did not know the name or the city.

    Fort Carson officials said they couldn’t comment because of privacy rules.

    David Lawrence, 20, of Lawrenceburg, Ind., is charged with premeditated murder in the Oct. 17 shooting death of the Taliban member in a cell at a U.S. outpost in southern Afghanistan. If convicted of the charge, he could be sentenced to execution or life in prison.

    The soldier was taking an antidepressant and another drug for sleeping problems at the time, and sometime after the shooting, Army doctors placed him on another drug for schizophrenia, his attorney, James Culp, said.

    It’s not clear whether Army doctors have formally diagnosed the soldier with schizophrenia, but Brett Lawrence said his son told family members before the shooting that he was hearing voices. The father also said others in the family suffer from schizophrenia.

    Culp said Lawrence was transferred to the mental health facility at the direction of the Army psychiatrist overseeing his case. Culp said he too did not know the name or city of the facility.

    “We are very relieved,” Brett Lawrence said, adding that his son needs help.

    David Lawrence had been assigned to guard the prisoner at the time of the shooting.

    At a military judicial hearing this week, Army prosecutors portrayed him as a zealot determined to kill the enemy and suggested he might be faking mental illness.

    Culp said that before the shooting, Lawrence was badly shaken by the deaths of two Army friends in Afghanistan, including a chaplain. Lawrence had sought mental health care in Afghanistan before the shooting, and was prescribed the antidepressant and sleep medicine, Culp said.

    Culp said when Lawrence was returned to his unit after seeing the mental health providers, he didn’t get the care or supervision that he needed and instead was assigned to longer-than-normal shifts on guard duty.


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