GIs collecting body part trophies
of murdered Afghan civilians
of murdered Afghan civilians
Recent disclosure of US soldiers killing Afghan civilians for sport and collecting their body parts as trophies has received international condemnation.
"An act like this one is very heinous and will damage the image of the international community, especially the United States, who are pursuing a war in Afghanistan," Afghan political analyst, Saeed Ahmad Khamoush, told Press TV on Thursday.
Twelve infantry soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade based in Washington state face charges over forming a secret "kill team" that blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected body parts as trophies between January and March this year. They had been deployed to Kandahar province a year ago.
Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting another soldier who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses.
"Such incidents, in which American soldiers killed Afghan civilians and collected their fingers as trophies of war, have made many people here in Afghanistan say this is not a real war. It was solely designed to humiliate and hate Afghan people here in Afghanistan," a Press TV correspondent in Afghanistan said.
The horrendous act comes as US-led forces in April admitted to killing two pregnant Afghan women and a teenage girl during a nighttime raid in eastern Afghanistan on February 12.
"Unfortunately, they (crimes) don't get the kind of publicity they should get here. Because people are tired of hearing about the war in Afghanistan, so these kind of incidents that do so much to damage the image of the United States and further the cycle of violence are not widely reported in the US," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CODEPINK — an American women-led grassroots peace and social justice movement — told Press TV.
"It's a despicable act by any standards and naturally when the people of Afghanistan see or hear such a thing their very little confidence is totally destroyed. I think once this kind of atrocities are committed, the only way to at least calm a little bit of the anger down is for summary retrials. We should not look for excuses. If the US military really wants to redeem its credibility, this kind of atrocities should be dealt with swiftly and quickly, and then it should be brought to the attention of the Afghan public," Afghan lawmaker Daoud Sultanzoy told Press TV.
"It is positive that these soldiers are going to trial. But it's only because there was somebody who leaked this information. Unfortunately, abuses have been committed throughout these nine years of war, including abuses that go to very high levels of torture, detention, and of course indefinite detention," Benjamin said.
"These are all international abuses that should be dealt with not by lower level soldiers but people on a higher level who are condoning this. We also hear from soldiers in their boot camps about how they are trained in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan to think of the people in those countries as less-than-equal human beings," she noted.
The incident is a case in which American soldiers are accused of murder. This is not a case of civilians being mistaken for Taliban fighters — as the US repeatedly has claimed — and not a one-time moment of rage. Instead, it happened on different occasions over the past several months.
(R-L) Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges.
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.
In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are said to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army's criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to "toss a grenade at someone and kill them".
Investigators said Gibbs, 25, hatched a plan with another soldier, Jeremy Morlock, 22, and other members of the unit to form a "kill team".
The Army Times reported that a least one of the soldiers collected the fingers of the victims as souvenirs and that some of them posed for photographs with the bodies, all this just for fun.
Five soldiers – Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield – are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges. All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
Source: The Guardian