Afghanistan: Leaked Photos Unveil “Repugnancies” Committed by US Army

This post is part of our special coverage WikiLeaks and the World.

On March 21, 2011, the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel released three horrific photos of Afghan civilians killed by a group of United States (US) soldiers. Two of the three photos show two US soldiers posing next to a partially undressed and blood-stained body. The victim is Gul Mudin, killed on January 15, 2010 in the village of La Mohammed Kalay, reports Der Spiegel. One of the two soldiers was smiling to the camera while holding the head of Gul Mudin. The third photo shows two bloody corpses seated next to each other with their hands tied.

Bloggers have reacted to the photos with shock and indignation. Twitter user @TaniaChaudhry tweets:

Glad Der Spiegel published disturbing photos of U.S soldiers smiling & posing with Afghan corpses.

United States Army soldiers in Afghanistan back in June 2007. Image by Flickr user The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0).

United States Army soldiers in Afghanistan back in June 2007. Image by Flickr user The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0).

Graig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and now a human rights activist writes:

There is something very vile in the culture of the US military, of which this is but one symptom. I won’t say much, as I feel more grief than anger just at the moment. But I leave you these truths. It is more common for US soldiers to possess such trophy photos, than it is for those trophy photos to be exposed to an international magazine. And it is a great deal more common for US soldiers to murder from the enjoyment of their absolute power of life and death, than it is for them to incriminate themselves by recording the event.

This is but the tip of an iceberg of evil.

The US Army's official apology was quick to arrive the same day with the Der Spiegel's publication:

On Tuesday, the US Army issued an apology and said that the acts shown on the photographs are “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army”.

Some considered the US army apology meaningless and worthless.

@Tavlesh tweets:

US Army apology over shocking photos of soldiers with dead Afghans #p2 #tcot #Afghanistan -apology for photos, not acts

@CRUELasNATURE exclaims:


According to the (ASG) analysis, the US and Nato fear that the horrific photographs might further damage the public image of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and ignite protests across the country. On the ASG blog Will Keola Thomas published ““The Kill Team” Photos: The Potential Fallout And The Brutal Reality Of War”, arguing that:

The revelation that American soldiers had plotted the cold-blooded murder of unarmed Afghans was shocking on its own, but Der Spiegel’s recent release of three photographs of the accused soldiers posing with the bodies of dead Afghans threatens to ignite the already volatile relationship between the U.S. and Afghan governments over civilian casualties. U.S. officials have been scrambling to limit the public relations damage while preparing for the possibility of massive protests in Afghanistan. One of the accused, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, is on the record admitting to three counts of murder and will plead guilty in a court martial hearing this week.

US soldier Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty for murder and has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. On Twitter, users were comparing the crimes committed by Jeremy Morlock and the funneling of America's top secrets to Wikileaks by Bradley Manning. Hegemonik published the following picture via Twitpic:

Bradley Manning vs. Jeremey Morlock. Image by Twitpic user @hegemonik.

Bradley Manning vs. Jeremey Morlock. Image by Twitpic user @hegemonik.

@BuckyTurco tweets:

Irony: Jeremy Morlock a soldier who killed Afghan civilians getting better treatment than Bradley Manning a soldier who's yet to be charged.

@xoxoDaisyVo tweets:

Jeremy Morlock faces 24 years in prison for killing Afghan civilians. Bradley Manning may get the death penalty for exposing war crimes.

As reported, Der Spiegel has published only three of 4000 photos and videos that the magazine claims it managed to obtain. The materials reveal atrocities and human rights abuses committed by the US soldiers. @SimoneMoyle tweets:

If Der Spiegel only posted 3 of the reported 4000 photos, I can't begin to imagine how bad the other 3997 must be.

@humpjones tweets:

Der Spiegel has 4000 photos of US Kill Teams posing with their (mostly civilian) trophies and have only released one. That's journalism!

This post is part of our special coverage WikiLeaks and the World.

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