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US Army 'kill team' in Afghanistan posed with photos of murdered civilians [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-3-21 23:44:55 |Display all floors
US Army 'kill team' in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians

Commanders brace for backlash of anti-US sentiment that could be more damaging than after the Abu Ghraib scandal

Jon Boone
The Guardian,         
Monday 21 March 2011

Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of "trophy" photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed.

Senior officials at Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures published by the German news weekly Der Spiegel to the images of US soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-US protests around the world.

They fear that the pictures could be even more damaging as they show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue US Stryker tank unit that operated in the southern province of Kandahar last year.

Some of the activities of the self-styled "kill team" are already public, with 12 men currently on trial in Seattle for their role in the killing of three civilians.

Five of the soldiers are on trial for pre-meditated murder, after they staged killings to make it look like they were defending themselves from Taliban attacks.

Other charges include the mutilation of corpses, the possession of images of human casualties and drug abuse.

All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

The case has already created shock around the world, particularly with the revelations that the men cut "trophies" from the bodies of the people they killed.

An investigation by Der Spiegel has unearthed approximately 4,000 photos and videos taken by the men.

The magazine, which is planning to publish only three images, said that in addition to the crimes the men were on trial for there are "also entire collections of pictures of other victims that some of the defendants were keeping".

The US military has strived to keep the pictures out of the public domain fearing it could inflame feelings at a time when anti-Americanism in Afghanistan is already running high.

In a statement, the army said it apologised for the distress caused by photographs "depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States".

The lengthy Spiegel article that accompanies the photographs contains new details about the sadistic behaviour of the men.

In one incident in May last year, the article says, during a patrol, the team apprehended a mullah who was standing by the road and took him into a ditch where they made him kneel down.

The group's leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, then allegedly threw a grenade at the man while an order was given for him to be shot.

Afterwards, Gibbs is described cutting off one of the man's little fingers and removing a tooth.

The patrol team later claimed to their superiors that the mullah had tried to threaten them with a grenade and that they had no choice but to shoot.

On Sunday night many organisations employing foreign staff, including the United Nations, ordered their staff into a "lockdown", banning all movements around Kabul and requiring people to remain in their compounds.

In addition to the threat from the publication of the photographs, security has been heightened amid fears the Taliban may try to attack Persian new year celebrations.

There could also be attacks because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is due to make a speech declaring which areas of the country should be transferred from international to Afghan control in the coming months.

One security manager for the US company DynCorp sent an email to clients warning that publication of the photos was likely "to incite the local population" as the "severity of the incidents to be revealed are graphic and extreme".

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Post time 2011-3-21 23:50:43 |Display all floors
I still wonder what make the yanks still think they are morally qualified to preach about human rights.

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Post time 2011-3-21 23:51:02 |Display all floors

German news group runs photos of Afghan killings

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Gene Johnson, Associated Press – Sun Mar 20, 10:44 pm ET


By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Gene Johnson, Associated Press – Sun Mar 20, SEATTLE – A photograph of a U.S. soldier smiling as he posed with the bloodied and partially naked corpse of an Afghan civilian was among those published digitally Sunday by a German news organization, despite attempts by Army officials to keep them under wraps as part of a war crimes probe.

The photos published by Der Spiegel were among several seized by Army investigators looking into the deaths of three unarmed Afghans last year. Five soldiers based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle, have been charged with murder and conspiracy in the case.
Officials involved in the courts-martial had issued a strict protective order, seeking to severely limit access to the photographs due to their sensitive nature. Some defense teams had been granted copies but were not allowed to disseminate them.

It was not immediately known how Der Spiegel obtained copies.

One of the published photographs shows a key figure in the investigation, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, grinning as he lifts the head of a corpse by the hair. Der Spiegel identified the body as that of Gul Mudin, whom Morlock was charged with killing on Jan. 15, 2010, in Kandahar Province.

Another photo shows Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes, of Boise, Idaho, holding the head of the same corpse. His lawyer, Daniel Conway, said Sunday that Holmes was ordered "to be in the photo, so he got in the photo. That doesn't make him a murderer."

The photo was taken while the platoon leader, Lt. Roman Ligsay, was present, Conway said. Ligsay has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify in the legal proceedings against his troops.

Conway sought copies of the photographs so that he could present them to a ballistics expert, who he argued might be able to tell whether the victim had been struck by the weapon Holmes was carrying. His request was rejected.

"I'm very disappointed that in an American judicial proceeding, I have to get potentially exculpatory evidence from a German newspaper," Conway said.

A third photo depicts two apparently dead men propped against a small pillar. Der Spiegel said the photo was seized from a member of the platoon, but did not involve the deaths being investigated as war crimes. Soldiers have told investigators that such photos of dead bodies were passed around like trading cards on thumb drives and other digital storage devices.

"Today Der Spiegel published photographs depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army," the Army said in a statement released by Col. Thomas Collins. "We apologize for the distress these photos cause."
The killings at issue occurred during patrols in January, February and May 2010. After the first death, one member of the platoon, Spc. Adam Winfield, sent Facebook messages to his parents, telling them his colleagues had slaughtered one civilian, were planning to kill more and warned him to keep quiet about it.

His father notified a staff sergeant at Lewis-McChord, but no action was taken until May, when a witness in a drug investigation in the unit separately reported the deaths. Winfield is accused of participating in the final killing.

Morlock has given extensive statements claiming the murder plot was led by Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont.; Gibbs maintains the killings were legitimate.

Morlock told investigators he and Holmes shot Mudin without cause; Holmes says that he fired when Morlock told him to, believing that Morlock had perceived a legitimate threat.

Morlock's court martial was scheduled for Wednesday. He has agreed to plead guilty to murder, conspiracy and other charges and to testify against his co-defendants in exchange for a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison.

One of his lawyers, Geoffrey Nathan, said while Morlock might be "physically responsible" for his crimes, including actions depicted in the photograph, "the people who are morally responsible are the American leaders who have us in the wrong war at the wrong time."

In addition to the five soldiers charged in the deaths, seven soldiers in the platoon were charged with lesser crimes, including assaulting the witness in the drug investigation, drug use, firing on unarmed farmers and stabbing a corpse.

___
Associated Press writers Richard Lardner in Washington, D.C., and Kirsten Grieshaber and Tomislav Skaro in Berlin contributed to this report.

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Post time 2011-3-21 23:57:04 |Display all floors
Originally posted by liuyedao at 2011-3-21 23:50
I still wonder what make the yanks still think they are morally qualified to preach about human rights.

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Post time 2011-3-22 01:23:03 |Display all floors
Well you have to give Adam Winfield some credit here for speaking out against it.   Good on him.

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Post time 2011-3-22 07:26:21 |Display all floors
Originally posted by liuyedao at 2011-3-21 23:50
I still wonder what make the yanks still think they are morally qualified to preach about human rights.


A small group of individuals do not equate to the entire country, government, or military.

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Post time 2011-3-22 07:27:56 |Display all floors
The behaviors of these Christian Whites make me sick.

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