Afghan President Hamid Karzai today said he was “shocked and hurt” by photos of Afghan civilians allegedly murdered last year by Stryker soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“They killed our youth for entertainment,” he said in remarks published today by Der Spiegel.
His statements were his first public remarks about the alleged “kill team” in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division whose members reportedly murdered three civilians and kept body parts as war trophies.
Karzai has known about the Army’s investigation into the soldiers since May, but he didn’t comment on them until Germany’s Der Spiegel newsmagazine and Rolling Stone published photos of American infantrymen posing over the corpse of one of their suspected victims.
“Without a doubt the Americans are very good people, just like the Afghan people and other peoples of the world. They are not cruel people, they helped us with their own resources to develop our education and health sectors. They are working day and night to help us,” Karzai also said during the speech, according to The Associated Press. But he added that he wanted Americans to know that U.S. soldiers “killed a 15-year-old boy and an old man in front of their families.”
Five soldiers in the brigade are accused of helping to carry out the murders. One, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, has pled guilty and been sentenced to 24 years in prison. Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the alleged ringleader and the main target of the Army’s investigation, contends the killings took place in legitimate combat.
Two others, Pfc. Andrew Holmes and Spc. Michael Wagnon, contend they didn’t knowingly participate in premeditated murders. Another, Spc. Adam Winfield, confessed to shooting at a noncombatant in May, but he says he purposely missed and participated in the incident because he feared retribution from Gibbs.