News

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

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
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.
Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs