By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press
Federal prosecutors charged a veteran of the Iraq war with murder and rape Monday in connection with the killing of an Iraqi woman and members of her family.
Steven D. Green, a 21-year-old former private first class who was discharged from the Army, appeared in a federal magistrate’s courtroom in Charlotte Monday. He could face death. Others still may face charges.
The charges today grew out of a military investigation involving up to five soldiers in the March rape and killing of the woman in Mahmoudiya and three of her relatives.
Prosecutors said Green and other soldiers entered the home of a family of Iraqi civilians, where he and others raped a member of the family before Green shot her and three of her relatives to death.
Green was arrested in recent days in North Carolina, two federal law enforcement officials said Monday. He is being held without bond pending a transfer to Louisville, Ky. Green had served with the 101st Airborne, based at Fort Campbell, Ky. Green was discharged from the Army due to an unspecified “personality disorder.”
The New York Times reports that an F.B.I. affidavit “portrays a crime at once chilling and calculated. Before raping one woman, Private Green confined her relatives to a bedroom, the document states. Shots were heard inside, after which Private Green came to the door and said, ‘I just killed them, all are dead,’ the affidavit goes on. Then Private Green and another ‘known participant’ were seen raping the woman before Private Green shot her in the head ‘two to three times,’ the document states.”
The Washington Post’s veteran Baghdad correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer revealed earlier Monday that the woman allegedly raped, killed and then burned by U.S. troops in Iraq in March was only 15 years old, and her name was Abeer Qasim Hamza.
Soldiers had apparently made advances toward the attractive teen in the days before she was killed in Mahmudiyah. Her mother felt the soldiers might come to seize her during the night, and she planned to let her sleep at a neighbor’s house.
But attackers came to the girl’s house the next day. After the rape, the attackers allegedly shot four family members — Knickmeyer identifies one of them as Abeer’s sister, age 7 — and tried to set Abeer’s body on fire, according to, among others, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator.
The U.S. military is investigating at least five soldiers in the incident.
“The U.S. military has not identified the victims,” Knickmeyer writes. “U.S. military officials contacted this weekend said they did not know the names of the people involved or most other details of the case, although one military official confirmed that according to preliminary information gathered by investigators, the family lived near a U.S. checkpoint and the killings happened about March 12.
“The military official pointed to one discrepancy in the accounts, however. Preliminary information in the military investigation put the age of the alleged rape victim at 20, rather than 15, as reported by her neighbors, officials and hospital records and officials in Mahmudiyah.
“U.S. soldiers at the scene initially ascribed the killings to Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area, the U.S. military and local residents said. That puzzled villagers, who knew that the family was Sunni, Janabi said. Other residents assumed the killings were sectarian, with Shiite Muslim militiamen as the likely culprit.
“But on June 23, three months after the incident, two soldiers of the 502nd came forward to say that soldiers of the unit were responsible, a U.S. military official said last week. The U.S. military began an investigation the next day, the official said.”
“The case is at least the fourth American military investigation announced since March of alleged atrocities by U.S. forces in Iraq.
“The rape allegation makes the Mahmudiyah case potentially incendiary in Iraq. Rape is seen as a crime smearing the honor of the family as well as the victim in conservative communities here.”
Knickmeyer closes her account with this:
“Reached by telephone Saturday at his home in Iskandariyah, south of Mahmudiyah, a member of the extended family would not discuss the incident. ‘What is the benefit of publishing this story?’ said Abeer’s uncle, Bassem. ‘People will read about this crime. And they will forget about it the next day.'”