THE KILL TEAM | AFGHANISTAN
Photo captions (scroll down to read the full story):
Top photo: Cpl. Jeremy Morlock posing with an Afghan child. The photos collected by soldiers included many shots of local children, often filed alongside images of bloody casualties. At one point, soldiers in 3rd Platoon talked about throwing candy out of a Stryker vehicle as they drove through a village and shooting the children who came running to pick up the sweets. According to one soldier, members of 3rd Platoon also talked about a scenario in which they “would throw candy out in front and in the rear of the Stryker; the Stryker would then run the children over.”
Near Kandahar, they had executed an unarmed Afghan boy named Gul Mudin in the village of La Mohammad Kalay. Reports by soldiers at the scene indicate that Mudin was about 15 years old. According to sworn statements, two soldiers – Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes – staged the killing to make it look like they had been under attack. Ordering the boy to stand still, they crouched behind a mud wall, tossed a grenade at him and opened fire from close range. In a break with protocol, the soldiers also took photographs of themselves celebrating their kill. In the photos, Morlock grins and gives a thumbs-up sign as he poses with Mudin’s body. Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs reportedly used a pair of razor-sharp medic’s shears to cut off the boy’s finger, which he presented to Holmes as a trophy for ‘killing his first Afghan’.
A pistol found at the scene of the helicopter strike. Gibbs routinely collected such weapons and planted them on the bodies of unarmed civilians they killed, in order to frame their victim as enemy combatants.
During the first five months of last year, a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan went on a shooting spree, killing at least four unarmed civilians and mutilating several of the corpses. The “kill team” – members of the 5th Stryker Brigade stationed near Kandahar – took scores of photos chronicling their kills and their time in Afghanistan. Even before the war crimes became public, the Pentagon went to extraordinary measures to suppress the photos, launching a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib.
The images – more than 150 of which have been obtained by Rolling Stone – portray a front-line culture among U.S. troops in which killing innocent civilians is seen as a cause for celebration. “Most people within the unit disliked the Afghan people,” one of the soldiers told Army investigators. “Everyone would say they’re savages.”
Many of the photos depict explicit images of violent deaths that have yet to be identified by the Pentagon. Among the soldiers, the collection was treated like a war memento. It was passed from man to man on thumb drives and hard drives, the gruesome images of corpses and war atrocities filed alongside clips of TV shows, UFC fights and films such as Iron Man 2. One soldier kept a complete set, which he made available to anyone who asked.
These photos and the story was published by The Rolling Stone in 2011. Some of the photos include extremely graphic and disturbing images of violent deaths, which I won’t be posting out of respect for the families of the dead.
Your fucking precious “veterans,” America.