Afghan Massacre Suspect Identified

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Common Dreams

Afghan Massacre Suspect Identified

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales named

by
Common Dreams staff

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, (L) 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. (photo: Department of Defense / Spc. Ryan Hallock)

The suspect behind Sunday's massacre of 16 Afghan civilians including 9 children has been named as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Details on the suspect previously given by the Pentagon included information that he was 38 years old, married and a father of two. He was a 10-year Army veteran who had served three combat tours in Iraq where he was wounded twice, and was deployed to Afghanistan in December with the Army's 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Bales was flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait after the massacre and was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on Friday.

More details on his past have come into light, including being arrested for assault on a girlfriend. He also participated in a bloody January 2007 attack in Iraq where he said he "discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants." Reports indicate he may also have been angry about being passed over for a military promotion.

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McClatchy: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales named as suspect in Afghan massacre

TACOMA, Wash. — U.S. military officials finally named the suspect in the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who was brought late Friday to the military detention facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to face murder charges. [...]

According to Afghan accounts and some press reports, he's a rogue soldier who trudged from hut to hut in two remote Afghan villages picking out women and children to shoot, stab, kill. [...]

His civilian life wasn't as spotless.

The Des Moines Register: Conflicting portrait of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales emerges

According to public records, Bales was charged with criminal assault in in Tacoma, Wash., in August 2002. The Associated Press reported he was arrested for assault on a girlfriend, not the woman he later married.

Bales pleaded not guilty, and the case was dismissed after he underwent 20 hours of anger management counseling. A separate hit-and-run charge was dismissed in a nearby town's municipal court three years ago, according to records.

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Agence France-Presse: US suspect in Afghan massacre named

According to a cached online article, dated February 2009, from the official US Army homepage, Bales participated in one of the bloodiest clashes of the Iraq war -- a January 2007 battle against a messianic Shiite sect in southern Iraq known as the Soldiers of Heaven.

In the 15-hour engagement, according to the US Army article, 250 fighters were killed, all enemy -- and Bales said he was proud his unit "discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us.

"I think that's the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm's way like that," Bales said.

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