US troops ordered to kill ‘all military age males’


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Accused troops: We were under orders to kill

Soldiers say officers commanded them to Œkill all military age males¹ in Iraq

The Associated Press

Updated: 4:56 p.m. ET July 21, 2006

EL PASO, Texas - Four U.S. soldiers accused of murdering suspected insurgents 
during a raid in Iraq said they were under orders to ³kill all military age 
males,² according to sworn statements obtained by The Associated Press.

The soldiers first took some of the men into custody because they were using two
women and a toddler as human shields. They shot three of the men after the women
and child were safe and say the men attacked them.

³The ROE (rule of engagement) was to kill all military age males on Objective 
Murray,² Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard told investigators, referring to the 
target by its code name.

That target, an island on a canal in the northern Salhuddin province, was 
believed to be an al-Qaida training camp. The soldiers said officers in their 
chain of command gave them the order and explained that special forces had tried
before to target the island and had come under fire from insurgents.

Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, and Spc. Juston R. 
Graber are charged with murder and other offenses in the shooting deaths of 
three of the men during the May 9 raid.

Girouard, Hunsaker and Clagett are also charged with obstruction of justice for 
allegedly threatening to kill another soldier if he told authorities what 

ŒThey did it admirably¹

In sworn statements obtained this week by the AP, Girouard, Hunsaker, Clagett, 
and a witness, Sgt. Leonel Lemus, told Army investigators they were ordered to 
attack an island in northern Salahuddin province on May 9 and kill anti-Iraqi 
fighters with ties to al-Qaida.

All four soldiers charged are members of the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 3rd 
Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They have been 
jailed in Kuwait since their June arrests. Their first hearing is Aug. 1 near 
Tikrit, Iraq.

Michael Waddington, Hunsaker¹s civilian lawyer, said his client followed orders 
and killed the detainees in self-defense after he and Clagett were attacked.

³They did (their job) honorably, they did it admirably,² said Paul Bergrin, 
Clagett¹s civilian attorney. ³If they did want to kill these men, they could 
have and been within the rules of engagement.²

Officers from their unit initially cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing. Charges 
were filed when witnesses changed their testimony after repeated interviews with
Army investigators, Bergrin said.

Military declines to comment

Reached by e-mail in Iraq, Girouard¹s Army lawyer, Capt. Theodore Miller, 
declined to comment because the investigation was continuing.

An Army prosecutor, also deployed to Iraq, did not respond to an e-mail request 
for comment.

Army spokesman Sheldon Smith asked that a request for comment be e-mailed to him
in Virginia. He did not immediately respond.

Military officials have released few details of the case.

But statements from Girouard, Hunsaker and Clagett describe a tense early 
morning scene, with soldiers immediately opening fire on buildings.

Girouard told investigators he expected he and his comrades would immediately be
attacked when they landed on the island. Intelligence officials had warned that 
at least 20 al-Qaida operatives were hiding there.

But it was only once the men moved to the northern half of the island that they 
found anyone, Girouard said. He said he and others shot and killed a man they 
spied in a window in one building and then rushed into a house where they found 
three other men hiding behind two women.

A fifth man, holding a 2-year-old girl in front of him, later came out of 
another building, Girouard and Hunsaker told investigators.

ŒStruck on the face¹

Girouard said the four surviving men were not immediately killed because of the 
human shields. Once the women and child were moved to safety, he told 
investigators, the men did not appear to pose a threat and the soldiers took 
them into custody.

But Hunsaker said three of the men then attacked him and Clagett as the soldiers
were trying to bind the men¹s hands with heavy-duty plastic ties.

³I had felt this action necessary for they had tried to use deadly force on me 
and my comrade,² Hunsaker wrote about the shooting.

Hunsaker told investigators he was stabbed. Clagett said he was ³struck on the 
face with a fist or something.²

Lemus, who only saw the men fall to the ground, told investigators he thought 
the killings were justified.

³Proper escalation of force was used when the detainee became hostile and armed 
himself with a weapon and wounded one soldier and struck another,² Lemus said. 
³Our actions ... were in accordance to the ROE (rule of engagement) briefed to 
us prior to our mission and moments before our air assault was conducted.²

ŒTelling the truth¹

Girouard said he did not see the shooting either but was immediately told what 

³I think they are telling the truth,² Girouard¹s statement said. ³If it would 
have happened another way they would have told me and the story has been the 
same the whole time.²

Clagett and Hunsaker also told investigators they found AK-47 assault rifles, 
ammunition and gun parts after the men were killed.

Bergrin said the weapons and other evidence not mentioned in the statements were
proof that the Iraqi men were a threat.

Several other service members face similar charges in unrelated cases involving 
the deaths of civilians in Iraq.

According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the maximum penalty for 
murder is death, but it was unclear if the government will seek the death 
penalty in any of the pending cases.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be 
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


© 2006

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