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Report details depravity of SEALs’ accuser
Question of the Day
The just-concluded military trials of three exonerated Navy SEALs showed the terrorism suspect at the center of the case to be one of the most dangerous men in Iraq.
Ahmed Hashim Abed initially was described as the insurgent who planned the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004, with two of their charred bodies infamously hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
But the three SEALs who captured Abed — and were court-martialed afterward — nabbed a far more notorious figure, according to trial testimony and an intelligence report.
Abed is thought to have committed a series of killings, including beheadings, in western Anbar province as a leading al Qaeda operative. He remains in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial in that country’s criminal court system.
A SEAL team captured Abed in Iraq in September. The team’s post-capture report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, said Abed had in his possession a loaded pistol, nearly $6,000 in U.S. cash, five identification cards and one passport.
The report also said he was responsible for recruiting insurgents, trafficking weapons and staging ambushes and attacks with improvised explosive devices.
Abed’s status as a most-wanted killer is one reason many Americans rallied around the three SEALs, who were accused of hitting him after capture. They celebrated after the last defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, was found not guilty Thursday of assaulting Abed by a seven-member military jury in Norfolk, Va.
“As they say, SEALs 3 — Terrorist 0,” said a posting on the Facebook page Support the Navy SEALs who Captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, which boasts more than 123,000 members.
Neal Puckett, Petty Officer McCabe’s lead civilian attorney, summoned several senior military officers to the witness stand to tell the jury why the SEALs set out that September night to capture Abed on an Iraqi judge’s warrant.
“We had a high-level SEAL commander testify as to all of the allegations that were still pending against this guy, and why he was a target and why they went out to get him on an Iraqi arrest warrant,” Mr. Puckett told The Times. “Most of it had to do with all the crimes against the Iraq people. He was responsible for I don’t know how many different deaths of Iraqis, in addition to the Fallujah incident.”
Petty Officer McCabe was the only one charged with striking Abed, based on an accusation from the base master-at-arms, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino. Petty Officer McCabe also was exonerated of lying and dereliction of duty. At separate trials in Baghdad last month, Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe were cleared of related charges.
Lawyer Monica Lombardi, who represented Petty Officer Huertas, said charges never should have been filed by Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, who heads the special-operations component of U.S. Central Command.
Gen. Cleveland first moved to punish the three himself at nonjudicial proceedings. But the SEALs maintained their innocence and rejected the punishment. Gen. Cleveland then ordered courts-martial.
Ms. Lombardi, a former U.S. Coast Guard judge advocate, said Gen. Cleveland was not served well by his legal advisers: The only witness, besides accused terrorist Abed, to testify about the supposed beating of the suspect was Petty Officer DeMartino. But trial evidence showed he provided inconsistent statements and had left his post when he was supposed to be watching the captured Abed.
About the Author
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