These are some of gruesome pictures taken by members of a US Army ‘Kill Team’ have been released by German publisher Der Spiegel following an undercover investigation by their reporters. The US Dept of Defense has been working hard to keep this under wraps as they fear a backlash from all right thinking people. One assumes a similar damage limitation operation is under way as when its soldiers – as well as private contract staff from the same company hired to carry out the upcoming Irish census – where found to have forced innocent Iraqis into sexually submissive position so that the US troops could take trophy photos.
The images released are of a much more vile and upsetting in nature as they show how US marines not only murdered innocent people in Afghanistan, but that they posed with the bodies of the recently murdered in macabre ‘trophy’ photos. Its likely that these photos will cause a massive revulsion, and more publically organised opposition to the continued imperial actions of the US government.
Currently there is rising resistance to the US Military within the US particularly around the state continued torture of 23 year old Bradley Manning, being held in isolation on alledged charges of passing US diplomatic cables to wikileaks. Whilst Manning’s case has become a focus for anti war activists and Wikileaks supporters and groups like Anonymous, its likely that these images will galvanised a much stronger global revulsions and likely much more immediate riots within Afghanistan. As as the experiences of history show such callous brutality only ever serves to foster a more militant and agressive reaction. It would not be cynical to suggest that the beneficiaries of this itself would of course be the military industrial complex within the US
The Guardian reports here that
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 Guardian report here also says that Der Spiegel uncovered over 4,000 pictures and video and included evidence that body part where removed from victims for fun.
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, 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.
Whilst no doubt much of the reporting will attempt to portray this as a rogue element with the US army it worth noting significant changes in recent practice that enable and indeed foster a culture of dehumanised barbarism with the military. Much of this is a actually a result of fewer and fewer american’s actually sigining up for the US continual military programme in support of neo-liberal expansionism. So much so that the Army dropped its prohibition on neo-nazi’s joining the army in 2009. Matt Kennard writing in July 2009 said
I spoke with neo-Nazi soldiers who had served in Iraq and the picture they painted was truly awful: the level of hatred for Arabs they evinced made me shudder to think what effect this had in the war zone. I talked to non-extremist veterans who said the general culture of racism towards Iraqis or “hajjis” would make it difficult even to notice a white supremacist soldier, as everybody was at it, including the brass. One veteran told me he had heard a general call the Iraqis “fucking hajjis” at a meeting outside Tikrit.
You can read his full report into neo nazi grouping in the US army here
However there have been even more recent signs both of encitment and the increasing neo-liberal privatisation of the US military and internal police force against Muslims in general. Journalists investigating the role of private contractors training ‘counter-terrorism’ paint a scary picture of racists and charlatans more interested in making money than anthing else.
The revelations of the sickening ritual and celebration of murder, which Der Spiegel broke here comes at a difficult time for both President Obama, and Irish Taoiseacht Enda Kenny just days after Obama annouced a visit to Ireland. During a TV set piece atter a St Patricks Day visit to the Whitehouse, Obama thanked Kenny, after the bland special relationship bullshit that accompanies most meeting with a US President, very specifically for Irelands continued complicity(and compliance ) in the US’ global military infrastructure. Not only that but also thanked Ireland for providing ‘trainers’ as part of the US occupation.
We want to thank him for the operations at Shannon that are so vital for us moving our troops into Afghanistan. It is a testimony to Ireland’s friendship to us. In addition, Ireland actually has trainers in Afghanistan that have provided us great assistance. And I expressed my appreciation for those sacrifices.
Very different from the guy talking here
Wikileaks recently made public cables suggesting just how important Shannon airport is to the US
“For the United States, geography makes Shannon a key transit point for military flights and military contract flights carrying personnel and materiel to Iraq and the Middle East/Gulf theatre in the global war on terror, as well as to Europe and Africa. In 2005, roughly 340,000 U.S. troops passed through Shannon on nearly 2,500 contract carrier flights; about 450 equipment-related/distinguished-visitor transit milair (sic) flights and thousands of airspace overflights also took place.”
Ive written here about how close – unknowns to ourselves- the anti war movement in Ireland came to making the political price for political parties here too high, and also about how the movement made a strategic mistakes in the past by removing its focus from popular direct actions at the airport itself, in preference for publicity/party building in Dublin. The cables themselves show the folly of that mistake, and its one we should learn from both politically and pragmatically
The recent overturning of Mary Kellys case as well as the eventual accquittal of the PitstopPloughshares suggests that public opinion support direct actions and the smashing up of US planes in Ireland.
The last time a US president visited Ireland was back in 2004, when many of us made it pretty clear that Bush was not welcome. Our actions require the irish state to role out the biggest military and internalpolicing operation in the history of that state.
We still managed to disrupt the TV spectacle but holding up the bus full of journalists
Here some images from back then. 7 years later and US troops are still murdering with impunity and, sickenly it seems, for fun.