"Kill Team" Photos Of U.S. Army Abuses In Afghanistan Could Rival Abu Ghraib Scandal
The photos depict members of the rogue tank unit that deliberately killed Afghan civilians, manipulated the scene of the crime to fake evidence that they were acting in self-defense, and posing with the dead bodies in "trophy" photos.
The soldiers also cut trophies from the bodies of the innocent civilians they killed, according to The Guardian.
The United States army is worried that the backlash against the photos may be worse than the massive outcry over the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photo scandal.
The photos are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States," said Colonel Thomas Collins of the US Army in a statement.
The soldiers are to awaiting trial for pre-meditated murder as well as desecration of corpses, illegal possession of photos of corpses, drug abuse and more, according to Der Spiegel.
The suspects are accused of having killed civilians for no reason and then of trying to make it look as though the killings had been acts of self-defense. Some of the accused have said the acts had been tightly scripted.
In one incident, which has been reconstructed based on documents from the investigation, the soldiers themselves detonate a hand grenade in order to make it look like they were the subjects of an attack before killing a man. One of those who allegedly participated, Adam Winfield, 21, described the incident to his father in a chat on the social networking site Facebook. "They made it look like the guy threw a grenade at them and mowed him down," SPIEGEL quotes Winfield as having written in the chat.
In a second incident on Feb. 22, 2010, one of the members of the "kill team" who had been carrying an old Russian Kalashnikov, fired it before pulling out another gun and shooting 22-year-old Afghan Marach Agha. In a third incident on May 2, 2010, it appears that a hand grenade attack was again staged before the shooting and killing of Mullah Allah Dad.
In response to the publication, international organizations including the United Nations that have teams working in Afghanistan placed their workers under "lockdown" in Kabul to protect them against any violent outbursts.