Soldier Accused of Afghanistan Killings “Just Snapped”

Attorney John Henry Browne is representing the U.S. soldier linked to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians in the Panjwai district of Kandahar. The unidentified U.S. soldier may not be charged by U.S. authorities for weeks. ANTHONY BOLANTE/REUTERS

Authorities have not released the name of the U.S. Army sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, yet details about the soldier are beginning to trickle out. The most recent news, the soldier is expected to be returned to the United States as early as Friday.

National Public Radio’s news blog, the Two-Way, offers these snippets:

— “When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues — he just snapped,” a “senior American official” tells The New York Times.

— The 38-year-old soldier’s Seattle-based defense attorney “says the possibility that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by injuries and multiple combat deployments will be foremost among the issues his team will explore,” The Seattle Times writes.

— Attorney John Henry Browne, who has spoken to his client by telephone, also said the soldier (who has not been identified) had a day before seen a friend get a leg blown off near their base in southern Afghanistan, NPR’s Martin Kaste tells our Newscast Desk.

— And Browne said the soldier was unhappy about being deployed to a combat zone for the fourth time.

You can read more up-to-date details on the Afghanistan incident and other breaking news on NPR’s Two-Way.

Suspect Saw Fellow Solder’s Leg Blown Off

The day before the massacre of Afghan civilians, the suspected soldier reportedly witnessed his friend losing a leg according to an article in the Toronto Star.

Seattle attorney John Henry Browne told The Associated Press that his client’s family provided him with details of the injury to another U.S. soldier. The details have not been independently verified.

“His leg was blown off, and my client was standing next to him,” he said.

It isn’t clear whether the incident might have helped prompt the horrific middle-of-the-night attack on civilians in two villages last Sunday. Browne said it affected all of the soldiers at the base.

The suspect had been injured twice during his three previous deployments to Iraq, and didn’t want to go to Afghanistan to begin with, Browne said.

Attack on Panetta Was Serious

The New York Times is reporting that the suicide attack during Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to Camp Leatherneck was more serious than first relayed by military authorities.

It was only on Friday that defense officials said that Mr. Panetta had already landed when the episode occurred, although they did not say how close his plane came to the speeding truck. But one of the officials acknowledged that if the attack had occurred five minutes later, it was “possible” that Mr. Panetta would have been on the tarmac and in the path of the speeding truck along with the commanders, who had been waiting for him as part of a welcoming party.

You can read the full New York Times article HERE.


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