Panetta: Death Penalty Possible For Soldier in Afghan Massacre


As US officials debated the possibility of reducing the American presence in Afghanistan by an additional 23,000 troops by 2013, militants launched an attack on Afghan officials visiting the site where a US soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday. An Afghan soldier and three militants were killed according to police in Kandahar. Two of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers were in the delegation, which is now heading back to Kandahar from the village of Panjwai where the killings occurred. Witnesses reported “bullets coming like rain” for ten minutes, says Al Jazeera.

In the eastern city of Jahalabad, some 400 students took to the streets chanting “Death to America – Death to Obama” and burning an effigy of the US President.

The violence and demonstrations portend more of the same. According to Al Jazeera, the Taliban in Afghanistan “threatened on Tuesday to behead US troops in revenge for the killings.” Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, a member of the Afghan parliament from Kandahar, said that many local residents were still deciding how to respond and that “once they decide, there will be no army, no force that can stop them.”

Eleven of those killed by the US soldier were all from one family. 60-year-old Abdul Samad had considered his home in Panjwai near an American military base to be safe, says the New York Times. Once a “believer in the offensive against the Taliban,” Samad — after seeing the wounded and burned bodies of his wife, four daughters between the ages of 2 and 6, four sons between 8 and 12 and two other relatives — wants the Americans out of his country.

President Obama has promised a full investigation of the killings. A weekend poll said that most Americans favor an early withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and do not think the war is worth the cost; Obama has still expressed concerns about “a rush for the exits” from Afghanistan where some 130,000 combat troops from the US and its NATO allies are to be stationed until 2014. The US currently has just under 90,000 troops in Afghanistan with 22,000 scheduled to return to the US in September. There is yet no timetable for the remaining 68,000 troops to leave, though Obama has said they will be withdrawn “at a steady pace.”

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta also said that the soldier, who is now in custody after turning himself in following the shootings on Sunday, will be tried under the US military legal code and could face the death penalty.


Related Care2 Coverage

US Soldier Said To Kill 16 in Kandahar; Afghans “Out of Patience”

Hate Slurry Follows Afghan Murders on Right-Wing Websites

Koran Burning: It’s Not Afghans’ #1 Concern


Photo by 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team


Shalvah Landy
Past Member 4 years ago

It saddens me no end to read this comment you just made Patrick F. passing judgment on a fellow human from the safety of your home particularly as you state in your profile that you wish to make a difference and one of your causes you state peace.
Obviously not conscious yet Patrick.
Happy birthday to you I wish you a conscious awakening in this new year of your life!

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Do you really think you can rehabilitate anyone who chooses to murder 16 people, 9 or which are children? Good luck, just turn him over to the enemy and let them make his choices for him. He CHOSE to join the military, what did he think he was doing over there, blowing up balloons for a party?

Sue T.
Susan T.4 years ago

Deborah V are you really that naive? really?

Sue T.
Susan T.4 years ago

why are we there? this area of the world will never change and I am so tired of people bitching about my country, the USA when we are the first to help others in need.

I am all for bringing all our troops home. ALL of them. deal with your own problems. ALL our money should stay in MY country.
NONE of you should be allowed to come here.


Shalvah Landy
Past Member 4 years ago

DeborahVitek, I agree with both your comments and support you, so if "they" ban you, I'll go as well...

Patty K.
Patty K.4 years ago

This man flipped out because our government sent him to war and 4 tours of duty. If you are young and exposed to that crap it is traumatic.

Deborah Vitek
Deborah Vitek4 years ago

How about if the all the U.S. military officers and all of the politicians who support this war and train these kids to kill go to prison for the rest of their lives? The entire thing is their fault and if they hadn't turned this young man into a killing machine, if they weren't killing in a country where they have no business to be at all, this would not have happened. This kid needs emergency mental health care, and frankly,so does anyone that supports war.

Deborah Vitek
Deborah Vitek4 years ago

I may be banned from this site for this opinion, but so be it as it is my long held opinion.

Who in their RIGHT mind would join the U.S. military to go to war? These kids,and overall they are kids, start out as compromised individuals in one way or another and then they are trained to be killing machines by the U.S. military. What do they expect? I would bet that via some convoluted mental processing this poor kid thought that he was following orders or doing his job.

If the U.S. is the "best" country in the world please explain why they can't lead the way to world peace?

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 4 years ago

Jan M. NO NO NO!!! The fact that US soldiers are outside the USA is not "THE CAUSE OF TERRORISM in the world!!!"
The cause of terrorism is breast- fed/community- fed HATE and FEAR of those that are "different" than us!

David L.
David L.4 years ago

Murder is murder, however some people want to rewrite it ~ he killed innocent civilians, NOT enemy combatants ~ and if America has the death sentence on the table for serial killers, then so be it...

AS for the Taliban - why do our governments keep pussyfooting around with them ~ they are NOT true native Afghanis, but invaders of that country ~ they should all be exterminated; otherwise they will always be a cancer eating away at those countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan from the inside out..

DEMOCRACY will never come to places like Afghanistan or Iran, as they themselves DON'T want it ~ the Afghani tribal culture, and the Iranian religious theocracy, both work against either of those cultures accepting democracy being foisted upon them from outside..

But they can still be dragged into achieving more civilised standards for their societies ~ and bought to task for their crimes against humanity.