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New Photos Show US Soldiers Posing With Afghan Insurgent Remains

United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012.
United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012.
Luis Ramirez

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is promising an investigation, after an American newspaper published photos of U.S. soldiers holding what appear to be the body parts of an Afghan insurgent.

U.S. military officials believe the photos could provoke attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the Pentagon tried to get the newspaper, the Los Angeles Times [Warning: graphic images], not to publish them.

The photos, apparently taken in 2010, show a number of U.S. soldiers holding what appear to be the dismembered legs of at least one Afghan insurgent bomber.  Posing with the Americans are Afghan men wearing uniforms typical of the Afghan national security forces.

A U.S. newspaper's publication of photographs showing U.S. soldiers posing with the remains of suicide bombers comes at a sensitive moment in U.S.-Afghan ties. Several other incidents have also sparked discord:

  • March 11, 2012: U.S. Army sergeant allegedly goes on an early morning shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17 civilians.
  • February 20, 2012: U.S. soldiers inadvertently burn copies of the Quran, said to be filled with extremist messages, in a landfill at the U.S. Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. The burning sparks days of deadly anti-American protests across the country, leaving more than 30 Afghans and American soldiers dead.
  • January 11, 2012: A video surfaces on the Internet showing what appears to be four U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three suspected Taliban fighters. In the less than minute-long video, a soldier is heard saying, "Have a great day, buddy."
  • May 4, 2009: The Afghan government says a U.S. airstrike targeting Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan kills at least 140 civilians, including many children.
  • July 6, 2008: A U.S. airstrike thought be targeting insurgents hits a caravan of Afghan civilians traveling to a wedding. The attack kills 47 people, including 39 women and children.

Reports say the body parts are those of one or more suicide bombers.

Once the newspaper went ahead and published the pictures, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta - in Brussels for a NATO conference - issued a condemnation. “That behavior that was depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations and more importantly our core values," he said.

Panetta said the Pentagon asked the newspaper not to publish the photos. “The reason for that is those kinds of photos are used by the enemy to incite violence and lives have been lost as a result of the publication of similar photos in the past. We regret that they were published," he said.

Panetta said an investigation is under way and promised the individuals responsible will be held accountable for the photos, which U.S. officials are concerned will further damage relations with the Afghans. “This is war.  And I know that war is ugly and it is violent and I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make foolish decisions.  I am not excusing that behavior, but neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or relationship with the Afghan people," he said.

That relationship has been strained by several incidents of misconduct by U.S. service members in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year,  photos circulated on the Internet showing U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan insurgents.  Later, riots broke out after service members inadvertently burned pages of the Quran that had been thrown out as trash.  Last month, 17 Afghan villagers were killed when a U.S. soldier allegedly left his base and opened fire in two villages.

Last year, members of a U.S. army unit were convicted of murder after killing innocent villagers, posing for pictures with Afghans’ bodies, and keeping their body parts as trophies.

Video footage from NATO press conference

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by: Jonathon Galt
April 19, 2012 8:32 AM
While we may still be capable of winning battles, wars are only won when your opponent surrenders unconditionally or have been eliminated totally.

by: William
April 19, 2012 7:06 AM
China's military should go home from tibet!

by: Gazz
April 19, 2012 4:56 AM
i'm all for pulling troops out of Afghanistan and let them moslims get on with what they do best, killing each other.

by: Ash.Shadow
April 19, 2012 3:13 AM
I have no sympathy with suicide bombers. but the incident like this will show the bad aspect of the world most professional army. we should not ignore that the soldier are there to bring peace and freedom for Afghan people.

by: Ash.Shadow
April 19, 2012 2:43 AM
hey Larry,from America;
I'm very sorry if you charge the Afghan people for 9/11. Alqaeida took responsibility for 9/11attack and there bases are inside the Pakistan. US government dare not to streak to Pakistan because they have nuclear missile.I.S.I raising terrorists and send them to Afghanistan to kill the US soldier and Afghan civilians. you people need to update your info about this War.

by: cui
April 19, 2012 2:17 AM
American soldiers should go home from Afhan, or they will hurt themselves.

by: cheng
April 19, 2012 12:48 AM
I feel so sad that the american sodiers do this.Don't you know you just destory US's great image ?you could have a big honor because of your mission in Afganistan but now you just totally ruin this honor by your stupid behavior

by: Peace
April 19, 2012 12:11 AM
USA = dumbest & most violent nation

by: idris sanusi
April 18, 2012 9:53 PM
by now sure america did not espect a happy wellcome in any muslem country in de world considering illegal killings of innocent people & human right violation, American army are de most terreble army in de world ahead of Hitler army.

by: hammar
April 18, 2012 7:16 PM
Suicide is death....nothing more. Faith is beyond...Jesus is Lord and God.
All others are false impressions...pray always.
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