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Entries in U.S. Soldier (18)

Monday
Mar192012

American Released by Shiite Militia in Iraq After Nine Months

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- In a move that seemed to take everyone by surprise, a Shiite militia in Iraq freed a former U.S. soldier-turned-contractor over the weekend after he had been held for nine months in captivity.

The man was identified as Randy Michael Hultz, who was apparently the prisoner of the Promised Day Brigade, a Shiite militant group loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and which at one time was one of the most violent foes of the U.S. military in Iraq.

During an unexpected and seemingly spontaneous press conference outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Hultz, who was wearing an Army uniform and standing alongside Iraqi officials, claimed he was abducted by the Promised Day Brigade last June.

Without going into specific details, Hultz said his captors told him his release "is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war."

Hultz was then brought inside the Green Zone, where he was turned over to the United Nations before being brought to the U.S. Embassy in order to verify his identity.

There are records that indicate Hultz began serving in Iraq in 2003, quit the military in 2005 and began working in a civilian capacity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

Report: Army Sergeant Suspected in Afghan Killings 'Snapped'

JANGIR/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With a Seattle law firm hired to assist military attorneys in defending an American Army staff sergeant expected to be charged in last Sunday's slaying of 16 Afghan civilians, The New York Times has quoted a U.S. official as saying that the suspect was drinking on the night that he allegedly went on a shooting spree and "snapped."

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the 38-year-old soldier, who may be identified on Friday, was having marital problems and feeling stress from his fourth deployment in a war zone, having already served three tours before in Iraq.

According to the Times' source, "When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues -- he just snapped."

The sergeant was transferred from Afghanistan to Kuwait earlier in the week but there are reports confirmed by the Pentagon that the Kuwaitis wanted the suspect moved immediately out of the country.  He's expected to arrive at the prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, perhaps as early as Friday.

Meanwhile, attorney John Henry Browne said on Thursday that he was hired by the sergeant's family to represent him, although charges might not be filed for weeks.  The soldier, believed to be from the Midwest, was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.

Disputing reports of the soldier having marital difficulties, Browne said he had suffered both a concussion and a serious foot injury while in Iraq.

As for what might have happened on the night that 16 Afghans were gunned down, Browne claimed that soldiers at the small outpost where the sergeant was deployed in Afghanistan were apparently upset that someone in their unit was "gravely wounded."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Leon Panetta Lands in Afghanistan, Vows US Commitment

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta landed in Afghanistan Wednesday, just days after an American soldier allegedly went on a shooting spree there, killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes as they slept.

The two-day trip was planned before the massacre, which has put a deep strain on the relationship between both countries.

Despite the mounting tension, Panetta met with Afghan tribal leaders on Wednesday and vowed that the U.S. will stay the course, insisting that great progress is being made in the fight against the Taliban.  He is expected to convey that same message to Afghan political leaders, including President Hamid Karzai, during his visit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar132012

Afghan Delegation Comes Under Fire at Site of Massacre

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An Afghan government delegation investigating the murders of 16 civilians by an American soldier came under attack Tuesday while visiting one of the crime scenes.

The delegation includes two brothers of Afghan President Hamid Karzi, senior officials from Kabul and at least a dozen journalists.

According to a cameraman for ABC News, who is traveling with the delegation, the officials were inside a mosque offering their condolences and prayers when they heard small and heavy arms fire.  Security forces traveling with the group responded, exchanging fire with the militants for about 10 minutes.

No one was killed, according to the cameraman, who added that a few bullets hit the exterior of the mosque.  It's unclear it there were any injuries in the shooting.

Meanwhile, in another sign of rising anger over the murders, several hundred students held a demonstration in Jalalabad on Tuesday.  A local eyewitness said the students were shouting that they can't tolerate the crimes of the American forces in Afghanistan and that the Afghan government shouldn't sign the long-term strategic partnership with the U.S.

Although the protest ended peacefully, it was the first major protest outside of the area where the massacre occurred.

The alleged shooter has been identified as a 38-year-old Army staff sergeant based at Fort Lewis in Washington state.  After Sunday morning's rampage, which left nine children and three women among the dead, the soldier is believed to have returned to his Kandahar base on his own and turned himself in.

The soldier has since lawyered up and is refusing to speak with investigators about what allegedly motivated him to gun down the civilians.

ABC News has learned that the soldier suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2010 while on deployment in Iraq.  It is unclear if the injury could have played a role in Sunday's massacre.  Officials said he went through the advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis and was deemed to be fine.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Taliban Vows Revenge for US Soldier's Alleged Deadly Rampage

JANGIR/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- The Taliban has vowed revenge against "sick-minded American savages" after a U.S. soldier was accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage early Sunday morning.

The group said it would "take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr," according to a statement posted on its website, the Times of London reported.

An Army veteran of three tours in Iraq who left his base in the middle of the night is suspected of methodically killing 16 Afghan civilians, most of them children and women.

The soldier's name has not been released, but a U.S. official told ABC News he is a 38-year-old staff sergeant who is married with two children.  He is apparently based at Fort Lewis in Washington state and was on his first tour in Afghanistan.

The soldier wore night-vision goggles during the alleged rampage and has "lawyered up" and declined to talk, according to a source.

The fear now is that this latest incident could set off a fresh wave of violence.  The attack comes just as outrage stemming from burning of several Korans by members of the U.S. military seemed to be calming down.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned foreigners to keep a low profile.

The shooting took place at 3 a.m. Sunday in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, a hotbed for the Taliban insurgency against U.S .forces.  The two villages are a short walk away from the U.S. base where the soldier was stationed.

Nine of the victims were children, and three were women, all shot while they slept in their beds, according to villagers and the Afghan president's office.

After the alleged shooting spree, it's believed the soldier returned to the base on his own, and calmly turned himself in.  He remains in NATO custody.

It's unclear whether the soldier knew the victims or whether the alleged attack was spontaneous and unprovoked.  It's also unknown whether he had any accomplices.

The Afghan parliament has passed a resolution in protest of the killings, and asked for a public trial of the U.S. soldier.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

White House Officials Worried About Alleged Massacre in Afghanistan

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama took the unusual step of telephoning Afghan President Hamid Karzai mid-afternoon Sunday -- which was late at night, Afghanistan time.   Sources say he didn’t want to wait before conveying his condolences for what appears to be a massacre of innocent Afghan civilians, including nine children, by an American soldier.

The president and White House officials find themselves in the seemingly contradictory position of being worried about what this incident might mean -- and doing everything they can to ensure that in terms of the big picture, it doesn't mean much.

To that end, Obama’s message to Karzai was twofold: that there will be accountability for the soldier, and that the U.S. cares about these innocent victims as much as if they were American civilian victims.

The message from the White House, however, will be on focusing on the bigger picture, on handing over control to the Afghan forces and on maintaining the strategy in that country.

One senior national security aide recalled that recent events brought another example of the U.S. “weathering and working through a difficult situation that inflamed Afghan opinion and was exploited by the Taliban -- the Koran burning.  It was very difficult, but within weeks we had resolved a longstanding issue with the Afghans and reached agreement on how to transfer responsibility for detainees to them.”

There is concern within the White House, however, that this incident might prompt a stronger reaction than did the Koran burning incident, possibly inflaming the Kandahar region, if not the entire country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Investigators Seek to Find Motive Behind US Soldier's Killing of Afghans

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Investigators are trying to learn what set off an Army veteran who left his base early Sunday morning and methodically massacred 16 Afghan civilians -- most of them children and women.

The attack comes just as outrage over the burning of several Korans by members of the U.S. military seemed to be calming down. Now there are new fears of retaliation against U.S. troops.

Local villagers responded with outrage, saying American forces are supposed to be there to protect them, not enter their homes and slaughter their families in the middle of the night.

Nine of the victims were children and three were women -- all shot while they slept in their beds, according to villagers and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office.  Karzai called it "an assassination -- one that can not be forgiven."

U.S. officials were quick to condemn the attack.

"I offer my profound regret and deepest condolences to the victims and their families," Gen. John Allen, head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.  "This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people."

After the alleged shooting spree, it's believed the soldier returned to the base on his own and calmly turned himself in.  He remains in NATO custody.  It's unclear whether the soldier knew the victims or whether the alleged attack was spontaneous and unprovoked.  It's also unknown whether he had any accomplices.

The soldier's name has not been released, but a U.S. official told ABC News he is a 38-year-old staff sergeant who is married with two children and served three tours in Iraq.  This was his first tour in Afghanistan, where he has been since early December, the official said.

The shooting took place at 3 a.m. Sunday in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, a hotbed for the Taliban insurgency against U.S forces.  The two villages are a short walk away from the U.S. base where the soldier was stationed.

Photos from the scene show blood-splattered floors and walls inside a villager's home -- one of three believed to have been attacked -- and blood-soaked bodies of victims, including the elderly and young children, wrapped in blankets and placed in the backseat of a van.  Some of the bodies appear to have been burned.

NATO has launched its own investigation, and Karzai has sent his delegation to Kandahar for its own inquiry.

In a statement, the White House said that Obama called "President Karzai to express his shock and sadness at the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. President Obama extended his condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and made clear his Administration's commitment to establish the facts as quickly as possible and to hold fully accountable anyone responsible.  The president reaffirmed our deep respect for the Afghan people and the bonds between our two countries."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy posted a warning on Sunday for U.S. citizens to avoid Kandahar in anticipation of "Anti-American sentiment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

Remains of Last Missing Soldier in Iraq Identified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie, the last American service member still missing in Iraq, have been positively identified.

Altaie was serving as an Army interpreter when he was kidnapped in October 2006, after he snuck off his base in Baghdad to visit his Iraqi wife.

Ever since then, the Iraqi-born soldier from Ann Arbor, Mich., has been listed as Missing-Captured by the Defense Department.

Army spokesman Troy Rolan said that on Saturday, Feb. 25, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover, Del., “used scientific methods on an unknown set of remains and positively identified them as those of missing-captured Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie.”

Army officials did not have further details about the circumstances surrounding his death or how his remains were discovered.  One official said the remains had been found in Iraq earlier in the week.

McClatchy Newspapers first reported the identification of Altaie’s remains, citing family members who told the news service that a military casualty officer had knocked on the family’s home in Ann Arbor at 1 a.m. Sunday to personally convey the news.  An Army official confirmed that account to ABC News.

Altaie’s brother, Hathal Altaie, told McClatchy, “We’ve been waiting for five years, suffering, not knowing if he’s alive or dead.  This was not the news we wanted, of course, but it’s better than staying like that, without ever knowing what happened to him.”

At the time of Altaie’s capture, the U.S. military in Iraq conducted massive efforts to locate the missing soldier.

Relatives told McClatchy the Iraqi government had turned over his remains to the United States on Feb. 22, but the family was only notified after forensics tests at Dover confirmed his identify.

Altaie was presumed to have been kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents who months after his capture released a video showing he was alive, but little more was heard after that.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb052012

Afghan Officials Say US Soldier Shot Officer to Death

Pfc. Cameron Boyd(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An American soldier shot an Afghan guard to death in northern Afghanistan on Friday, apparently out of fear that the latter was about to open fire, according to Afghan officials.

The U.S. soldier was inside the base and having an argument with the Afghan security officer, who guards the outside perimeter and wanted to come inside the base, Afghan police and interior minister officials say. The U.S. soldier allegedly thought the Afghan security guard was about to shoot him -- thinking he was about to raise his weapon -- so the soldier shot first.

The International Security Assistance Force says it is investigating the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov152011

US Soldier Killed in Iraq, Second Death in November

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- A U.S. service member was killed in central Iraq Monday, marking the second American death to be reported in the country this month.

According to the U.S. military, the soldier, whose name is being witheld until family members are notified, was killed while conducting operations.

The military said on Tuesday that the incident is being investigated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio