American Military “Death Squad” Charged With Murder
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The leader of the kill team Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was given life in prison for 15 convictions including three of premeditated murder. He is eligible for parole in 9 years even after he admittied to cutting off fingers and other body parts to keep as trophies of his kills. The three other defendants have pleaded guilty and several accepted plea agreements in turn for lighter sentences. Two testified against Gibbs and all but two have been convicted. In addition to the five soldiers that have been charged with murder seven others were charged with lesser offences that included covering up the crime and intimidating other solders to keep quiet. Most are now serving out their time in military prison.
Source: BBC News
The highest U.S. military court has denied a last-ditch bid to halt prosecution of one of the five U.S. soldiers in Washington state facing court-martial on charges of murdering unarmed Afghan civilians. More at Reuters Army Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the alleged ringleader in the murders, was ordered Friday to face a trial by court martial. Gibbs faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole for charges that include of premeditated murder in the deaths of three unarmed Afghan civilians, including a cleric, in the Afghanistan villages of La Muhammad Kalay in January 2010, of Khari Kleyl in February 2010 and at Qualaday in May 2010, according to court documents. Source: Reuters
Five American soldiers have been charged with murder for acts that they committed while deployed to Afghanistan. The soldiers engaged in a five month killing spree where they targeted random innocent Afghani civilians. The soldiers in some cases staged insurgent attacks so that they could justify shooting anyone who was near them. In one case a soldier threw a hand grenade to simulate an attack and the squad opened fired on an elderly man. The soldiers, who all deny the allegations, even dismembered the bodies of their victims and kept trophies as well as photographs. The original investigation was to determine if the soldiers were smoking hashish until a soldier informed his superiors of the killings.
The soldiers are,
- Staff Sergeant Calvin R. Gibbs
- Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock
- Specalist Michael Wagnon
- Specalist Adam Winfield
- Private First Class Andrew Holmes
The soldiers are accused of killing a total of three civilians in unjustified shootings. The soldiers are facing a court-martial in their home base of Washington state. They’re all from the same unit; 5th Stryker Combat Brigade 2nd Infantry Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. Seven other members of the unit are facing charges of attempting to impede an investigation and for beating up a Private who blew the whistle on the units’ actions.
The first of the killings took place January 15th while the platoon was guarding a meeting of tribal elders in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. An Afghani, Gul Mudin, was approaching the soldiers when one of them tossed a grenade to simulate an “attack” and several of the soldiers opened fire; killing Mudin. Further murders followed in February and May. The killings came at a time when the unit was suffering heavy casualties with 35 killed in combat and 239 were wounded.
Court documents obtained by the Washington Post say that the “death squad” started discussing killing when SSG Calvin Gibbs arrived to the platoon. He boasted about how easy it was to get away with “stuff” when he had been deployed on a previous tour to Iraq. SSG Gibbs is also accused of illegally collecting AK-47s, RPGs, and other weaponry used by the Iraqi Army as well as insurgents so that he could place them around the bodies of those killed. He was trying to justify the shootings by saying they were simply returning fire.
The relatives of one of the accused has said that the Army failed to prevent some of the killings because he called the unit after his son discussed some of their activities and was told to report it once the unit was home. Mr. Winfield said that his son told him he was being threatened by members of his unit and that he feared for his life. The conversation reportedly took place on Facebook and the Army will be investigating that as well to determine if SPC Winfield was forced to commit murder. The unit returned from their deployment in June and all 5 were reportedly arrested as soon as they stepped off the plane.
These are some of the worst alleged crimes committed by soldiers in the 21st century. The acts are not that of the Army nor its soldiers but a rather rouge element of men who need some serious help after a lot of jail time. Simulating attacks to take out the stresses of war on the innocents is incredibly disgusting and these men shouldn’t have been in the Army to begin with. It will be yet another disgusting incident to add to the long list of combat atrocities committed by soldiers at war. I hope that the Army does not sweep this under the rug as they have so many times before forgetting that history repeats itself.