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War Is Hell: US Soldiers Killed Iraqi Prisoners For Revenge?

It's a story that shocks a civilian frame of mind and raises so many questions about the effect of war on mankind: Three US Army soldiers murdered four Iraqi prisoners by firing shots to the backs of their heads, execution-style, in the spring of 2007.

The story has surfaced from a source close to one of the soldiers who says after they committed these murders, the US Army officers then dumped the corpses into a Baghdad canal. The killings were meant to avenge the deaths of two of their army comrades, and to this point, all members of Company D, First Battalion, Second Infantry, 172nd Infantry Brigade have not been charged with a crime.

Lawyers representing other members of the platoon who witnessed the slayings, believe the Army officers involved will probably be charged with murder. One of the soldiers involved described in great detail how and why the killings took place.

To see the story,


After receiving small-arms fire, the patrol pursued some men into a building and arrested men who they believed to be the perpetrators. On the way back to the detainment center, they were then informed that they might not have enough evidence to convict and to release the suspects.

Though the soldiers were ordered by army superiors to release the prisoners, one sergeant ordered the soldiers to "take the detainees to a canal and kill them." They then avenged the two fellow soldiers killed by a sniper and executed the suspects themselves by handcuffing, blindfolding, and then shooting them with pistols in the back of their heads, dumping the remains in the canal.

With all we're beginning to know about the effects of PTSD after war, does the warrior mentality change a person? Could these soldiers have been acting under an unspoken military protocol one might not know if one hasn't been in war?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 8 years
Thanks Mafalda! It's a different story, but similar situation, so I think I get why she brought it up.
mafalda_quino mafalda_quino 8 years
Stephley, I think CaterpillarGirl was referring to this: "Jury acquits former Marine in killing of Iraqis" By CHELSEA J. CARTER – 4 hours ago RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Jurors wept and embraced former Marine Jose Luis Nazario Jr. after acquitting him of voluntary manslaughter in the killings of unarmed Iraqi detainees during a fierce 2004 battle. Tears rolled down Nazario's cheeks and courtroom spectators openly sobbed and cheered Thursday. He is the first U.S. veteran tried by a civilian court for alleged actions in combat."
austerity austerity 8 years
Let's just hope this is an isolated event; in my opinion, any war is a war, and especially in the fighting country, you will only hear hero's praise, not the bad stuff. Though it is commendable that this 'isolated incident' has come to light in the American press, I'm sure there are things we don't hear about. What makes this example even worse in America's particular case is that it's preaching democracy and freedom and is supposedly giving that to the Iraqis. Does democracy dictate 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'? How different are you then from the people that you're claiming to re-educate?
stephley stephley 8 years
I don't get your meaning Caterpillar, the article says no one's been charged yet.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
they just acquited one of the soldiers.
Vespa Vespa 8 years
Well, hopefully it's an isolated incident.
Jazz-Z Jazz-Z 8 years
War and the Human Psyche ~ Author, Dave Grossman, quotes the claim by S.L.A. Marshall that fewer than 20 percent of the soldiers who fought in World War II shot at the enemy. Some fired consistently, but others failed to either aim their weapons or pull the trigger, demonstrating a human inhibition against killing. Reducing nonshooters has not taken the terror and stress from the battlefield. In American wars of the 20th century, the chance of becoming a psychiatric casualty was greater than being killed by enemy fire. The sustained tempo of military operations gives the stressed soldier little respite. Grossman concludes that "our physical and logistical capability to sustain combat has completely outstripped our psychological capacity to endure it." The result is that combat can literally cause madness in the ranks. "Fear, combined with exhaustion, hate, horror, and the irreconcilable task of balancing these with the need to kill, eventually drives the soldier so deep into a mire of guilt and horror that he tips over the brink into that region that we call insanity."
supercharger5150 supercharger5150 8 years
I agree that this is not an "all the time" occurrence but it is abysmal none the less.
Jazz-Z Jazz-Z 8 years
At least they weren't tortured ;) I think it is really sad our soldiers have to deal with such horiffic injustices on a regular basis and I can feel for their frustration. I hope they aren't judged too harshly ~ perhaps temporary insanity ;). I'm obviously in agreement with MarinerMandy, but I also agree with HarmonyFrance, Stephley, and Jude.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
This is a terrible story but I think acts like this happen rarely and in no way detract from the honorable work of other troops.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I agree with above posters who hope that incidents like this will not tarnish the image of the military as a whole. We only hear about the bad, but there are far more soldiers serving honorably who just don't get press because they haven't done anything atrocious.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
I hope they are all charged for murder. As someone else said, I don't understand why it's okay for us to murder, but not them. Killing is never right, obviously, but it seems like a war-time double standard. We're all familiar with the public backlash when American soldiers are put in the situation of these Iraqi soldiers. I don't think this is PTSD so much as it was murder in the heat of passion, but that doesn't excuse it either way. Iraq is unfortunate for everything involved; it makes me sick how many otherwise "average" American men and woman have been programmed into killing-mode.
omilawd omilawd 8 years
I can see why they're so upset; their buddies were killed, but people's friends and families are killed every day in this war. You don't see them taking it upon themselves to avenge anyone. I do agree with harmonyfrance, though. It is an isolated event that is separated from the men and women serving honorably.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
This is an isolated event. It's a horrible, inexcusable, hard to understand isolated event...but isolated none the less. It doesn't take away from the men and women who are serving honorably.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Good comment Steph. I'm a big believer in innocent until proven guilty, even though nowadays it seems to be more guilty until proven innocent... and even them maybe still guilty.
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
ugh. its a futile war and the people over there fighting know it - i can see how they'd be frustrated and flip out. doesn't mean i condone it but i can certainly understand. sad for everyone involved - including our reputation.
foxie foxie 8 years
I'd be hard pressed not to be seriously tempted to kill someone who murdered my battle buddies if I knew this insurgent was not going to be dealt with otherwise. That's got to be hard to deal with, regardless of how you feel about war.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
no one said it was okay for us to kill them, hence the investigation and probably charges of murder.... it will all boil down to "i was ordered to" and than go from there.
stephley stephley 8 years
"Could these soldiers have been acting under an unspoken military protocol one might not know if one hasn't been in war?" You risk smearing all military personnel if you're not careful with this line of defense. Too many men and women have served with honor under horrific conditions and not resorted base behavior for this to be a supportable argument.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
So it's okay for us to kill them, but not for them to kill us? Kind of reminds me of a baseball beanball war...except much deadlier. That said, I absolutely think war changes your mentality. I think people do things in those circumstances that they wouldn't normally do. War isn't exactly a stage to parade a commitment to human rights. The problem with this behavior is it does not help us win any hearts or minds; it is very detrimental to that goal and reaches far beyond Iraq. The power of our example rather than the example of our power.
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