By David Zucchino
April 18, 2012
The paratroopers had their assignment: Check out reports that Afghan police had recovered the mangled remains of an insurgent suicide bomber. Try to get iris scans and fingerprints for identification.
The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived at the police station in Afghanistan’s Zabol province in February 2010. They inspected the body parts. Then the mission turned macabre: The paratroopers posed for photos next to Afghan police, grinning while some held — and others squatted beside — the corpse’s severed legs.
A few months later, the same platoon was dispatched to investigate the remains of three insurgents who Afghan police said had accidentally blown themselves up. After obtaining a few fingerprints, they posed next to the remains, again grinning and mugging for photographs. …
Photo: U.S. troops pose with body parts of Afghan bombers (MSNBC News, April 18, 2012 ) – Army officials are conducting a criminal investigation into newly revealed photographs showing U.S. troops posing with body parts of dead Afghan suicide bombers. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (04:43)
By Sohel Uddin (NBC News in Kabul) and F. Brinley Bruton (MSNBC.com) with reporting by Reuters
April 18, 2012
KABUL — The Los Angeles Times published photos showing U.S. troops posing with the body parts of dead suicide bombers in Afghanistan on Wednesday, prompting condemnations from American officials even before the pictures were posted on the newspaper’s website.
A total of 18 pictures showing soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were taken in 2010 and given to the Times by a soldier who served with the 82nd Airborne’s 4th Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Bragg, N.C., the newspaper reported. Only two of the 18 photos appeared on the site. …
[In a press statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta] said: “These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan today. [link added] …
The news comes at a time of growing sensitivity over the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan after a series of damaging and embarrassing incidents involving U.S. troops.
In January  a YouTube video surfaced of U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February , the burning of Qurans at the main American base in the country sparked violent protests and revenge killings of six Americans. Last month March , 17 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in a nighttime rampage, allegedly by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. [links and video added]
Conduct unbecoming (NBC Nightly News, April 18, 2012) – Pictures taken two years ago showing American soldiers posing with the severed legs of a dead Taliban suicide bomber are being condemned by the Pentagon. NBCs Jim Miklaszewski reports. (02:51)
A spike in so-called green-on-blue attacks — by Afghan army and police on U.S. and other foreign forces — has stoked concern that some of that anger is spilling over into the security forces and turning them against their Western allies [link added]. …
Karzai calls for U.S. to hand over security to Afghan troops sooner (MSNBC.com, April 19, 2012) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Thursday for U.S. and other foreign forces in the country to hand over security to his government’s forces sooner than planned, following the publication of photographs showing American troops posing with the body parts of dead suicide bombers. In a statement issued by the presidential palace statement to NBC News and other media outlets Karzai said he strongly condemned the “inhumane and provocative” act. … The statement noted “similar incidents of odious nature in the past that sparked angry reaction by the Afghans and the international community at large.” … Full story
Related reports on this site
Horrific Massacre by American Soldier in Afghanistan (March 13, 2012)
Mounting evidence against Robert Bales (NBC Nightly News, March 23, 2012) – The defense attorney for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier charged Friday with 17 counts of murder, has said the military lacks much of the physical evidence necessary to establish a solid case against his client. But prosecutors say there is ample evidence: surveillance video, shell casings and more. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (02:36)
U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Over Koran Burning (Feb. 24, 2012)
Setback for U.S. in Afghan War (Jan. 13, 2012)
Soldiers Pose with Afghan Corpse (March 21, 2011)
This image shows the body of Gul Mudin, the son of a farmer, who was killed on Jan. 15, 2010. A member of the “kill team” poses behind. (Photo credit: Der Spiegel)
America’s Worn-Out Welcome in Afghanistan (Nov. 21, 2010)
Protesters chant anti-American slogans and burn an effigy of President Barack Obama in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. (Photo credit: Rahmat Gul / AP)
He who wishes to fight must first count the cost. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. … Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. … In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
There is no instance of a country having been benefited from prolonged warfare.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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