News

US Soldier's Friends Stunned at Afghanistan Rampage Charges

An Afghan boy peeks into a bus carrying the body of a person who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 11, 2012
An Afghan boy peeks into a bus carrying the body of a person who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 11, 2012
Mike O'Sullivan

An American soldier suspected of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, met Monday with his lawyer at the military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Bales, who is based near Tacoma, Washington, is expected to face charges within a week.

Family members said they are stunned by the accusation that Bales left his Afghan base March 11 and went on a killing rampage that left 16 people dead in two villages, including three women and nine children. Military officials have said Bales carried out the attacks after a night of heavy drinking, and that he set many of the victims on fire.

Friends describe a very different man and say the 38-year-old father of two was polite and friendly. Stuart Ness is a neighbor in the suburb south of Seattle where Bales lived with his family. He said the stresses of war can change a man.

“I was in the military, I was in Vietnam, I was an infantry guy like he was," said Ness. "And war does terrible, terrible things to you, and I think everybody would agree that nobody would do something like that if they were really thinking clearly."

Friends in Ohio, where Bales grew up, recall a young man who was captain of his football team and who cared for a disabled neighbor after school. Bales joined the Army shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His attorney, John Henry Browne, said he faces challenges in court. "You couldn't imagine a more difficult case, I don't think," he said. "I mean, every challenge. This case has political ramifications, it has legal ramifications, it has social ramifications, so you couldn't really imagine a bigger case."

Related video by Chris Simkins:

Bales was a decorated solider who had commendations for good conduct and superior performance. He served three tours in Iraq, where he lost part of a foot and suffered a concussive head injury.  

He has had several run-ins with the law. He was charged with assaulting a girlfriend in 2002, but the charges were dropped after Bales took a course in anger management.  He was charged in a hit-and-run traffic accident in 2008, but those charges were also dropped.

Bales' lawyer has denied suggestions that the soldier's marriage was shaky, but like many homeowners, the couple faced financial problems. The value of their house had dropped to a point below the amount that they owe on it, and a second property is in default.

Bale's wife said in an online blog that he was disappointed at being passed over for a promotion, and that he had hoped for a posting in Germany, Italy or Hawaii - some place other than Iraq or Afghanistan.

His lawyer said he will discuss with his client the possibility that Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome that had not been properly diagnosed.

The killings have already strained U.S.-Afghan relations and provoked angry reactions throughout Afghanistan.

 

Friends, Neighbors Stunned at Soldier Rampage Accusation
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs