German magazine Spiegel has published photos of members of a US Army so-called 'kill team' posing with dead bodies of Afghans they appear to have killed for entertainment. The story has been known about for some time, but only on Monday were the photos published for the first time. I have decided not to publish the photos on this blog, but you can find them via the link above.
In a statement released yesterday the US Army's Colonel Thomas Collins apologized for the suffering the photos have caused. The actions depicted in the photos, the statement read, are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States." A court martial is currently being prepared against 12 members of a group of US soldiers accused of several killings. The photos, the army statement said, stand "in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."
The piece in Spiegel includes three previously unknown photographs. One shows two of the suspected killers posing next to a corpse. The victim in the image is Gul Mudin, an Afghan man killed on 15 Jan 2010 in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. Spiegel says it has obtained a large number of photos and film from the group of soldiers, who are accused of having killed civilians for no reason and then of trying to make it look as though they were killed in self-defence.
According to Spiegel: "In one incident, which has been reconstructed based on documents from the investigation, the soldiers themselves detonate a hand grenade in order to make it look like they were the subjects of an attack before killing a man. One of those who allegedly participated, Adam Winfield, 21, described the incident to his father in a chat on social networking site Facebook". "They made it look like the guy threw a grenade at them and mowed him down," Spiegel quotes Winfield as having written in the chat.
Spiegel continues: "In a second incident on Feb. 22, 2010, one of the members of the "kill team" who had been carrying an old Russian Kalashnikov, fired it before pulling out another gun and shooting 22-year-old Afghan Marach Agha. In a third incident on May 2, 2010, it appears that a hand grenade attack was again staged before the shooting and killing of Mullah Allah Dad."
The 12 men, from a 2nd Infantry Division brigade, accused are also facing further charges of desecration of corpses, illegal possession of photos of corpses, drug abuse and acts of bodily injury against comrades.