US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians

by Jon Boone
First Published: Mar. 21, 2011 – Guardian

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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11 Comments on “US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians”

  1. Dwight Baker says:

    US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians

    By Dwight Baker
    March 21, 2011

    Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has put our returning vets as potential terrorist. Wonder why?

    Not one thing is new in this sin sick world in which we live. Mercenaries have been needed to do the Kings secret bidding since city-state and nation building came along. And that started right after Noah’s flood.

    So what I cry out ‘What is the cure for this overt sinister soul corruption of our Men?’

    Women it is in your hands. Without the fruit of your womb being allowed to go off and become a viperous villain against our God wars would not exist.

  2. Mark Owen says:

    I would say this is quite the norm after living here now for almost sixty years. For America has devolved into a nation of Psypchopaths.
    The N.W.O. Has almost finished its work here. All that’s left is W.W.3!

  3. Dwight Baker says:


    I pray that you are wrong!

    I have high hopes for the human race—seems we in America have been so dumb down that when we see blood we want more. That is the only crowd that we think is looking in but I think that might be wrong.

    The boom tube is our worst enemy.

    Yet to get beyond all this grief we must be able to do as some of the wisest sages have said.

    “To save just one man is like saving the entire world”,2230417/From-where-does-the-saying-Save-a-life-save-a-whole-world-originate.html

  4. Dwight Baker says:

    Truth has never been hidden from those that were possessed to be free.

    All down through human history there have been men and women that refused to be slaves.

    One dynamic man was Geronimo

    We Okies and others too must not forget about Geronimo
    He was held in prison inside Fort Sill until he died.

    I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.

    I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.

    I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust.

    I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me. Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.

    The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians.

    While living I want to live well.

  5. SOULREAPER says:

    That’s the whole point…….who’s policing the forces? Their superiors supposedly but whats to stop a unit from going ‘rogue’ and answering to nobody?
    These kind of incidents mar the whole operations of the coalition forces, one crazy Sargeant and his squad who decided to carry out their own war ,un-supervised by nobody!
    No wonder the ‘natives’ have a shit-scared expression on their faces when the US roll into town!
    (Falklands vet)

  6. Dwight Baker says:

    My take

    In my 67 years of living I have discovered that good always triumphs over evil, yet sometimes it take years and most of the times it takes those of raw courage to stand up and say enough.

    Now you mentioned a Sergeant taking his men on a rampage to do evil. I have never been in that situation that I could not calm down.

    When one man has the power to take out a group of other men he must be like a Samson. Most times the groups will split up then we have a gangland war one against the other.

    A point of interest in this very good thought provoking article that needs to be said is that our Troops today get all kinds of Head Meds to use at their liking.
    Hitler got that deal going long ago so his troops would not need to sleep or eat for days just fight.

    Small groups of men can come from larger groups of men and often times the smaller groups ideas will prevail over the masses.

    In 1976 I hired two returning Green Beret vets from Viet Nam. They told me this story. They were taken very north to an out post filled with them and native forces. They thought their captain was in charge then they found out it was the CIA. There was a large oppressive hill that was said it needed to be taken, early one morning the small group of Green Berets got that job. As they started up the hill not much went wrong but just a short distance from the peak they began taking gun fire— they called the captain said “We can not go on” he told them to get on up the hill—they said no, Finally it was a shouting match and the gun fire was from the rear ‘intended Friendly fired’ the seven scurried down the hill leaving all behind that slowed them down. Back at camp good things to eat –little chit chat then off to bed. Next morning Captain was found dead.

    My Dad survived the horrors on a Submarine in WWII — he told me a few of the things that went on that saved most of the men and the mission.

    Overt un-civil Forbidden Drug use kills

  7. […] US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians […]

  8. […] US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians […]

  9. […] US Army 'kill team' in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered … Mar 21, 2011 … US Army 'kill team' in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians. by Jon Boone … […]

  10. […] US Army ‘kill team’ in Afghanistan posed for photos of murdered civilians […]

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