US Marines grilled over desecration video

2012-01-13 22:25

Washington - Two American Marines pictured in a video urinating on the corpses of militants in Afghanistan have been questioned and two other suspects will be grilled soon, a US military official said on Friday.

The online video showed four US troops urinating on three bloodied corpses, and one of the men, apparently aware he was being filmed, saying: "Have a great day, buddy", referring to one of the dead.

All four are from a sniper unit in the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the official said, noting that the two who were questioned by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are on active duty.

Tracking down the second pair of Marines took longer, apparently because they had been transferred from Camp Lejeune but they also face questioning.

"They're not in custody" over the disturbing footage, added the US official, who asked not to be named because of the ongoing probe.

The 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines was deployed in southwestern Afghanistan's Helmand province from March to September last year, and the video "potentially" was shot during that period, the official said.

The images conjured up previous abuses committed by US troops during the decade-long war and also in Iraq and prompted a scramble by US officials to condemn the soldiers.

Simply inhuman

Feared anti-US protests over the video, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai described as "simply inhuman", failed to erupt after Friday prayers in Kabul, but anger ran deep on the streets.

"This is an absolutely savage act and condemnable in any religion," said Waheedullah, a 20-year-old road construction worker, as he left a mosque in Kabul.

"First they kill Afghans in their homeland and then they urinate on them. It is not acceptable - we should do it to them."

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday said the behaviour in the video was "utterly deplorable", while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of her "total dismay" at the acts.

Both vowed that the culprits would be found and punished.

But the mullah at Kabul's biggest mosque did not mention the incident in his sermon on Friday, and worshippers dispersed peacefully. Past protests have been sparked by inflammatory sermons.

"There has been kind of a deliberate effort by people inside the government to cover up the issue," Mati Kharoti, an Afghan analyst and commentator, told AFP.

"But this doesn't mean that nothing will happen. It takes time for people to become aware of the news, thus I believe there is a good possibility we will witness angry reactions in the coming days."

The muted reaction so far echoed a surprisingly measured response by the Taliban, whose Islamic fighters are believed to be the victims in the video.

A Taliban spokesperson condemned the behaviour of the soldiers as "barbaric", but said it would not derail tentative moves towards peace talks between the insurgents and the United States.

"Normally such an issue would be used to bash foreigners, but their reaction could be an indicator that they might be serious about talks," said Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

The Afghan government also appeared to be choosing not to use the issue to inflame anger against its US allies, she said, pointing out that most demonstrations in Kabul tended to be organized, not spontaneous.

The video has been broadcast regularly by major Afghan TV channel Tolo News, but many of the country's more conservative citizens living outside the major cities do not have access to the pictures.

The scandal is the latest in a long line to tarnish the image of the US military in the past decade, from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq to more recent convictions of troops who killed Afghan civilians for sport.

  • RedViolets - 2012-01-13 22:37

    Allen West on the Marines Incident: 'Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell'... “I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq? The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell."

      Ian - 2012-01-13 23:21


      Juan - 2012-01-14 03:13

      He is spot-on

      Sharon Dreyer - 2012-01-14 06:43

      And I suppose US forces killing civilians for 'sport' is all just part of it?? If you sign up in the security forces or military forces do you think it's going to be a tea party?

      Richard - 2012-01-14 07:26

      @ Sharon.. Don't be naive. Like was said above, "unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth." Don't assume that everyone has the same point of life reference as you do. And especially don't assume that war doesn't change a person. And especially especially please don't think that peeing on someone is worse than killing them.

      Zion - 2012-01-15 09:15

      Very little indeed has been said about the FEMALE soldier, I believe a sergeant, Who sexually molested Iraqi prisoners. That is ok. With all these incidents we are compelled to place the Americans at the same "barbaric" level as the Taliban, Iranians, Iraqis and the rest of those who commit these crimes against mankind. One only has to refer to the annals of history to see the actual mentality which existed when the USA were warring in Vietnam. It would apt too if the Americans can:Shut your mouths because you are just as rotten.

  • Fredster - 2012-01-13 22:54

    You can kill them, but dont pee on them...

      Paul - 2012-01-14 07:34

      My point exactly. You point your rifle at me and take my life but don't point your penis at me corps and pee on me.

  • Cracker - 2012-01-13 23:14

    Soldiers fighting a war are supposed to hate their enemy. The politicians and military high brass should stop making the soldiers hate their enemies. Then these incidents will not take place. The hypocrisy and scapegoating of it all are just beyond any kind of decency and honesty imaginable. If you want an effective military then the foot soldiers must HATE the enemy. If not, go and fight the war yourself.

      Eugene - 2012-01-14 06:49

      This is true: these men are soldiers, not policemen, and considering that they are specifically trained to become merciless killers, and the kind of stress they experience on the battlefield, it is not surprising that they turn into cold psychopaths. There is no point in scapegoating these individuals. But it highlights the whole problem here. There is no way America will be able to create order and stability in Afghanistan unless they can "win hearts and minds." Urinating on dead Afghans will not accomplish that. I.e. this is not a job for the military. It is the kind of operation for which you need a scalpel rather than a chainsaw. On the other hand, you also cannot do it without very substantial numbers of men on the ground. Thus it seems to me that the problem in Afghanistan basically cannot be solved by the west. The Afghans must be left alone to do it themselves. One cannot force unwilling people into western-style democracy and liberty.

      Zion - 2012-01-15 17:55

      Killing pow's is a very different kettle of fish. These guys can end up in the dock charged with breach of the Geneva conventions and crimes against mankind etc.

  • Mel - 2012-01-14 00:00

    At least they waited until they where dead..Better to give than to receive.

  • Mel - 2012-01-14 00:07

    Who cares at least they waited until they where dead. It should not have even made world headlines, not news worthy.

      Leon - 2012-01-14 04:56

      not news worthy at all

      Chum Scrubber - 2012-01-14 05:45

      I guess it is newsworthy as it shows just how grim war is, what it brings out in humans.

  • Ian - 2012-01-14 06:24

    the US military is getting weaker and weaker and weaker, innocent people have been maimed, lives have been destroyed because of these bastards and there stinking dirty cowardly acts of terrosim yet all they are worried about is a few men pissing on the corpes of the enemy,its like 24, oh thanks for your service, place him under arrest, idiots

      Werner - 2012-01-14 07:47

      Hey, go play with some anthrax, you taliban loving hippie

  • Renier - 2012-01-14 07:11

    Soldiers must kill, are given weapons that maim people for ever, handle blown up bodies caused by their destructive weapons, constantly watch people die, and... and... remain civilized. Thank God that I do not have to be a soldier.

  • Graziella - 2012-01-15 18:32

    You apologist would scream "INHUMAN MONSTERS" if the taliban were doing it, but when you see it from the other side you cannot accept the reality.. that all humans can be equally disgusting. You all need your bloody heads examined...

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