US troops ‘goaded’ to kill

THE accused ringleader of what authorities say was a rogue US army platoon in Afghanistan goaded troops into killing innocent Afghan civilians.

He also threatened to kill a soldier if he told anyone about drug use in the platoon, an army investigator testified yesterday.

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, facing three counts of murder in one of the most serious war crimes cases of the US war in Afghanistan, produced a collection of severed fingers taken from Afghan corpses and, along with co-defendant Corporal Jeremy Morlock, used them to intimidate Private Justin Stoner, who already had been stomped on and beaten by half a dozen members of his unit, army investigator Anderson Wagner said his interviews revealed.

“After the assault, he claimed that he had his life threatened by Sergeant Gibbs and Corporal Morlock, when they produced severed fingers and told him if he didn’t want to end up like this guy, he better keep his mouth shut,” Mr Wagner testified.

Corporal Morlock, when brought in for questioning, was initially “scared for his own safety”, Mr Wagner said, but eventually revealed the platoon’s misdeeds had gone far beyond hashish smoking and the beating.

The 22-year-old from Alaska gave detailed accounts of the deliberate and apparently opportunistic killings of three Afghan men encountered on patrols, which Corporal Morlock and others said were incited by Sergeant Gibbs and then staged to look like combat encounters. “He just doesn’t have any problems with . . . killing these people,” Corporal Morlock said.

The Los Angeles Times

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