The Massacre in Zangabad, Panjwai: Afghan Testimony, As Reported

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For details of the U.S. Army’s investigation of this mass murder, and the commanding general’s AR 15-6 review, see the Timelines linked in the December 31, 2015 note atop Public Panjwai Massacre Facts

More than a year ago, a horrifying war-crime massacre was committed by at least one American soldier stationed in the Zangabad area of Panjwai district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Seven months ago (or eight months later), the U.S. Army held a pre-trial “Article 32” hearing, in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), at a military base in Washington state, to assess the evidence against SSG Robert Bales, who was taken into custody on March 11, 2012 and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on March 23, 2012. That November, 2012 hearing took sworn testimony from other American soldiers, and from Afghan survivors. The media was allowed to cover the hearing – but not to film it, or record the audio – in an overflow room of the small military courtroom. There, over seven straight days, they saw Americans testify in person, and then, late at night, Pacific time, watched 11 Afghan survivors, 2 Afghan National Army guards, and 1 Afghan Uniform National Police investigator testify by video link from an Army base in Kandahar city.

The official transcript of that pivotal Army Article 32 hearing, however, remains secret – concealed from the public and the press. Thus, the only sworn testimony of Afghan survivors and witnesses, describing what happened that night, exists in the snippets of testimony that the handful of reporters present managed to capture and preserve for the public record, during the three late nights of Afghan testimony heard at the conclusion of seven days of attack testimony. Also concealed from the public is the subsequent report by the investigating officer, based upon the evidence produced at the hearing (including four days of testimony by American soldiers), that formally recommended to the Army that SSG Bales be referred for a court-martial trial (advice that the Army commander implemented in late December, 2012).

The U.S. Army has similarly concealed the names of all of the children listed on their two Charge Sheets for SSG Bales – March 23, 2012 Charge Sheet; June 1, 2012 Charge Sheet – and thus the identities of the victims behind the numbers remained a secret until January 17, 2013, when Gene Johnson of the Associated Press obtained the full list of Charge Sheet victim names from defense attorneys for the accused. (The names of the adult victims on the current Army Charge Sheet were only pried out of the Army by the media in November, 2012.) The AP’s January list confirmed that the only existing, semi-official (Afghan-sourced) public list of massacre victims’ names was not the same as the June 1, 2012 Army Charge Sheet. The AP’s list of victims also publicly confirmed for the first time that there are notnine children” listed among the dead on the current Army Charge Sheet, as has been – and continues to be – unquestioningly accepted, and repeated as fact by members of the media, since President Karzai and U.S. military spokesmen first made unsupported statements to that effect soon after the massacre. Yet such unexplained discrepancies, like all the many other disturbing discrepancies in the U.S. government’s version of this story (for particulars, see my repeatedly-updated July, 2012 post and its maps, in addition to the reporting below), remain unmentioned and uninvestigated by our Free Press (whose reporting is largely responsible for the obvious existence of those discrepancies), and by our representatives in the House and Senate. (While Panjwai Massacre victims still living in the war zone that is Zangabad, like Haji Mohammad Naim – who’s had one son killed since the massacre by a NATO airstrike, and another arrested – now plead for help and justice from “human rights organizations” – see subtitled June 5 video below.)

Congress, to the best of my knowledge, has convened not a single public hearing to examine what happened that night, during the commission of the worst American war crime in decades. Significant monetary compensation from U.S. taxpayers, however, was hurriedly issued by the Department of Defense (or the CIA) to the subsistence farmers affected, the day after Bales was charged – before Army investigators had even made it to the scenes of the crime to investigate.

And today, June 5, 2013, his lawyers announced a week ago, SSG Bales will be pleading guilty, effectively as charged (thus, to 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder), in order to avoid the death penalty – and, evidently, so that the Army can avoid having its evidence tested at trial.

First video-recorded interview of wounded Panjwai Massacre survivor Haji Mohammad Naim of Alkozai, with his nephew Abdul Baqi and victims Samiullah and Haji Baran, filmed in Zangabad June 5, 2013 by Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani

Bales guilty plea: Victims’ reactions, from 2470media on Vimeo. Click on image to play June 5, 2013 video.

June 23rd UPDATE: As blogged by Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times June 5, “During the hearing [Wednes]day, [SSG] Bales did not offer an apology to his victims,” but he did plead guilty, as expected, to all but one of the counts charged to him on June 1, 2012. The one count to which Bales did not plead guilty was an alleged violation of Article 134 of the UCMJ – Charge IV, Specification 1 – which stated that Bales did “wrongfully endeavor to impede an investigation . . . by damaging a laptop computer.” Here’s how Gene Johnson of the Associated Press reported the sworn testimony of U.S. Army Sgt. Ross O’Rourke, in that regard, during November’s Article 32 hearing:

But Bales also deliberately mangled his laptop, said two soldiers assigned to guard him as he gathered his things.

One of them, Sgt. Ross O’Rourke, testified that he removed the laptop from Bales’ rucksack after the defendant told him he didn’t want to take it with him. O’Rourke said Bales then grabbed the computer and folded the screen back, breaking it.

That didn’t damage the hard drive, O’Rourke said, and investigators still could have retrieved information from the computer. O’Rourke didn’t testify about what information might have been uncovered.

On Monday, Cpl. David Godwin testified that Bales asked him to bleach his blood-soaked clothes.

And here’s how Adam Ashton of The News Tribune blog described the pertinent Article 32 testimony of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class James Stillwell:

Two soldiers who guarded him that day said they gave Bales the benefit of the doubt when he told them he wanted to retrieve his laptop while he awaited a helicopter flight out of Belambay. Bales told them he wanted to make sure it wouldn’t get destroyed, [SFC James] Stillwell remembered.

Stillwell lifted it out of a rucksack containing Bales’ clothes and left it for the captive staff sergeant. Bales promptly snapped it, Stillwell testified today.

At the conclusion of the June 5 plea hearing, a press conference was held by defense attorneys, including the military defense counsel for SSG Bales. Hal Bernton attended the news conference, and reported as follows on his Seattle Times blog:

[Defense co-counsel Army Maj. Greg] Malson said that “what [Bales] wants more than anything” is for Afghans to understand that other soldiers now on the ground in Afghanistan had nothing to do with what happened in those two villages.

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I linked above (as an example of “nine children” reporting) to a June 2nd Guardian article by Emma Graham-Harrison and Afghan reporter Mokhtar Amiri, on the Bales plea deal and reactions to it. Notably, this pair of reporters is responsible for one of the Panjwai Massacre’s multiple, never-explained March, 2012 ‘ghost’ victim/witness articles. Meaning reporting about a victim – in this case, the wounded “father” of 26-year-old “Muhammad Zahir” from “just south” of COP Belamby, about whom the Associated Press also reportedwho we now know was not charged to SSG Bales.

Remarkably, this same Guardian pair may have just repeated that feat in their June 2, 2013 article – again without explanation, or apparently any recognition of, or appreciation for, the import of and public interest in what they, or at least Mokhtar Amiri, have reported. Specifically, Afghan journalist Amiri (I assume) reportedly had a conversation, within the last month, with an “eyewitness” to the Panjwai Massacre named “Haji Satar Khan” – no village or location mentioned by the Guardian – whose existence is news to me, and whose “eyewitness” account of the massacre has never been publicly heard in English-language reporting, as far as I know. Furthermore, Amiri (or Graham-Harrison) spoke within the last month to “Abdul Halim Noorzai, a former mujahideen commander from Panjwai district,” who told the Guardian that “[t]wo of his family members were injured in the attack” – again, however, no names, no ages, no village, no location for those victims is mentioned. Noorzai may well be a (close or distant) relative of two of the six Panjwai wounded charged to Bales (all of whom are from one Alkozai neighborhood). For example, Noorzai could be, and I believe would have to be, a relative of the unnamed and uninterviewed wife of wounded Haji Mohammad Naim of Alkozai, and thus of her two wounded children (Parmina and Sadiqullah) – but there’s no way to tell if that’s the case from the Guardian’s reporting. And unless “Haji Satar Khan” is not in fact an “eyewitness,” his unheard account of what he saw that night ought to be considered worthy of recounting by any journalist, given the paucity of massacre accounts by adult eyewitnesses available in English.

Meanwhile, to tout the “local uprising” in the Zangabad region – AFP; embedded NYT; AAN; embedded CBS; embedded LATimes; embedded NPR – in late May this year U.S. Army special forces hosted an embedded CBS News reporter inside Camp Belamby itself – the first visit, to my knowledge, of any U.S. reporter to Camp Belamby (or massacre homes), period, since before the massacre. During her Army-arranged tour, London-based reporter Elizabeth Palmer visited and filmed (screen captures: 1, 2, 3, 4) what may well be Haji Mohammad Naim’s former Alkozai home – now being used as an Afghan Local Police (ALP) post (Palmer doesn’t mention it, but Haji Naim told Mamoon Durrani June 5 that he’s relocated his family to another village, and has himself refused to join the ALP). There, Palmer spoke off-camera to, and filmed on-camera, an unnamed massacre survivor – apparently a witness to his unnamed Alkozai father (perhaps Naim, or one of the two adult male neighbors of Naim who were killed) being “mowed down” – who has joined the ALP. Palmer too assures us, in her one-sided, Army-directed CBS Evening News report, four full months after the Associated Press demonstrated otherwise, that the deaths of “nine children” were charged to SSG Bales.

In lieu of compiling a list of the many unanswered questions that SSG Bales should be, but probably will not be [and, as it turned out, in fact was not], required to answer as part of his plea deal, the rest of this post is my (reporting-derived) version of a public transcript of November’s Article 32 hearing testimony by Afghan survivors – now unable to travel to the U.S. to testify in person at a future court-martial for SSG Bales – as they answered questions about what was done to them in our name. [Unanswered questions like why SSG Robert Bales – while under guard waiting to be airlifted out of COP Belamby – said to a fellow soldier, with regard to the number of people he thought had been killed: “My count is 22” (according to U.S. Army SGT Jason McLaughlin’s sworn testimony). Another reporter in attendance heard (and tweeted) either the prosecutor’s opening argument or actual testimony stating that Bales told a fellow soldier (presumably McLaughlin): “he thought he killed 20 people.” (Including the ‘ghost’ victims in media reports – see the excerpts immediately following the casualty box in the July postI count descriptions of 29 separate deaths in the Panjwai Massacre.)] As with the high-profile Bradley Manning court-martial now underway in Maryland, this effort to create a partial substitute for the official transcript is made necessary because the military is being allowed to close the doors of the UCMJ-governed military justice system, in all but name, by withholding essential court documents from the press and public.

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On January 19, 2014, at Storify.com – as introduced here (this link’s also at the top of the sidebar) – I posted a “partial substitute” for the August, 2013 Bales sentencing hearing transcript, as well. That hearing relayed, for the first time, 32 pages of uncontested facts about the massacre, including, as recorded by reporters who were present, the following undisputed stipulated facts:

He called Afghans “muzzis,” said soldiers could cover up anything they did in Afghanistan

Jury hears #Bales told fellow soldiers under his command not to worry about actions in Afghanistan b/c they could “always cover up” actions

A fellow soldier had a limb blown off. [] #Bales wasn’t there and wasn’t a friend.

After the attack, Sgt Bales told colleagues: “[] My count is 20,” referring to the number of Afghans he believed he had killed.

After returning to Afghan base from his killings, Sgt #Bales said, “My count is 20.” And “we shouldn’t worry about collateral consequences.”

#Bales to soldiers: [] “My count was 20,” referring to number of people killed.

[] #Bales told soldiers “My count was 20” referring to victims he killed #jblm

#Bales “[] My count is 20. That MFer with the PKM won’t bother us anymore.”

#Bales asked a fellow soldier to help him destroy evidence after massacre while being held. He didn’t. Bales did destroy a computer #jblm

[] #Bales destroyed his laptop to get rid of evidence

#Bales stomped on his laptop. [] Bales knew it had porn & video of casualties. []

Then, in unsworn answers to his attorney later in the hearing, SSG Bales finally apologized – apparently mostly to his “Patriot Brotherhood” (as tweeted by reporters who were present):

More #Bales: “I love the army. I’ve stood next to some really good guys, some real heroes. I can’t say I’m sorry to those guys enough.”

#Bales choked up esp when apologizing to soldiers: I love the Army …I can’t say I’m sorry to those guys enough. #Afghanistan

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I believe the long collection of excerpted testimony reports below – supplemented by the few English-language media interviews of survivors that exist – speaks for itself. I’ll only add this sampling of Article 32 testimony by American soldiers at Camp Belamby (testimony that’s not otherwise included in this post, but may be in future, depending on what develops today). This relates to the alleged movements of SSG Bales that night, according to American and Afghan witnesses, in connection with the murders both north of the base, and at the Wazir and Dawood homes south of Camp Belamby:

[Bales defense attorney Emma] Scanlan said the timeline laid out by prosecutors also raises questions, beginning with the Afghan guard who testified that he checked his watch, and was certain that the U.S. soldier he saw — returning from the initial killings in Alkozai, prosecutors allege — had returned to Camp Belambay at 1:30 a.m.

The shots heard from the direction of Alkozai didn’t stop till 1:50 a.m., the defense attorney said [apparently quoting Article 32 testimony that didn’t otherwise make it into the media with such specificity -pow wow].

“I don’t know what that means,” Scanlan said. “But one thing it means is, if you believe what the government is telling you, that Sgt. Bales is the one who came back through that wire at 1:30, then somebody else was firing for another 20 minutes.” – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14, 2012

Emma Scanlan was similarly quoted by Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times on November 13, 2012 (in a hearing/closings summary article that, in introducing this statement, seems to confuse or merge testimony by U.S. soldiers with testimony by an Afghan soldier):

“We need to know why there are shots fired after they say Sgt. Bales returned to the base.”
– Bales defense attorney Emma Scanlan, Nov. 13, 2012

More on the timing from a Najiban woman interviewed on March 11, 2012 about the Wazir home murders, but never again since (a neighbor, and possibly a relative, whose name may be either “Gul Bashra” or “Anar Gul”) – she was already awake when the attack began:

It was 2:00 in the morning [she holds up two fingers, apparently to represent the time -pw]. I woke up for my fasting breakfast. When I turned the light on, I heard noises. I told my son [looks at and gestures toward him on the other side of the minivan -pw] not to speak because the Americans are here. They were telling us to be quiet, and not to come out. When he kicked the door, my door had a stone so it didn’t open. They moved from my door, and went next door and the first thing they did was to shoot the dog, and then there was a muffled bang inside the room – but who could go and see. And then there were two planes overhead.” – The BBC, March 11, 2012

I’ve now (as of June 13th) compiled some of the American and Afghan soldier Article 32 hearing testimony, as reported, into a timeline, along with media accounts from Afghan villagers (the sworn Article 32 testimony entries are bolded, the unsworn media accounts are not):

TIMELINE

12:00 AM, Midnight, March 11: SSG Bales was inside Camp Belamby, and, apparently after a shift on guard duty, was visiting and talking about an earlier IED attack (among other things) with SFC Clayton Blackshear, who was trying to sleep, Blackshear testifed under oath. (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3)

No reported sightings of an original, pre-1:30 AM departure by any soldier from Camp Belamby on March 11.

  • No known Article 32 testimony about a pre-1:30 AM departure by SSG Bales
  • No known media reports from any witnesses of a pre-1:30 AM departure from Camp Belamby of SSG Bales
  • No known Article 32 testimony from victims about the time of the Alkozai attack
  • Ibrahim Khan Houses, Alkozai attack timing said – by injured Samiullah son Rafiullah, in an October, 2012 media interview with Der Spiegel – to be after “one side of sleep”
  • Non-witness Samiullah, whose mother was killed and two children wounded in the Ibrahim Khan Houses neighborhood of Alkozai, said in a recorded March 12, 2013 Al Jazeera interview (as translated): “He killed them at 3:00 o’clock in the morning.”
  • U.S. Army brigade surgeon MAJ Travis Hawks testified at the Article 32 hearing that five Alkozai wounded [Haji Mohammad Naim, his daughter Parmina and son Sadiqullah, and his neighbor’s grandchildren Rafiullah and Zardana, all from Ibrahim Khan Houses] arrived at FOB Zangabad (the a battalion headquarters, location unconfirmed; reportedly either “about 20-30 kilometers” from Camp Belamby, or “just over a mile” from Camp Belamby per “military in the area”) at 3:30 AM (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3, 4)

From about 1:15 AM until about 1:50 AM: Gunfire heard in the direction of Alkozai, per sworn testimony by American soldiers PFC Derek Guinn and PFC Damian Blodgett, who reported it while on guard duty together (on the roof of the Camp Belamby operations center) that night. They used thermal imaging and then shot up a 20-second flare to unsuccessfully try to locate its source. (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

  • Gene Johnson of the Associated Press, November 6:

      Two other soldiers, Pfcs. Derek Guinn and Damian Blodgett, testified Tuesday that they were on a guard shift early March 11 when they heard scattered gunfire coming from Alkozai, the first village attacked. […]

      Blodgett said he reported it to the operations center on base, and a specialist told them to monitor it and let him know if it came toward them.

      The shooting lasted for 30 to 40 minutes, Blodgett said.

  • A CBS News media interview reported on November 8, 2012 (just before the Afghan testimony began) that “[Rafiullah] told us the shooting lasted half an hour.”

1:30 AM: Hurried entry by an American soldier into Camp Belamby from the north, in the midst of ongoing gunfire at Alkozai, per sworn testimony by Afghanistan National Army (ANA) soldier Pvt. Naimatullah (who checked his watch and is certain of the time the soldier arrived during his Midnight-2:00 AM guard shift, but apparently did not hear the Alkozai gunfire), and by American soldiers PFC Derek Guinn and PFC Damian Blodgett (who heard the gunfire, but did not see the soldier entering); all three were on camp guard duty (at two different locations) at that time. (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3)

  • Timing matches Naimatullah’s late March, 2012 media interview with Yalda Hakim of Australian public television
  • Timing also matches a March 23, 2012 account given to Robert Burns of the Associated Press by “members of the Afghan delegation investigating the killings”
  • ANA soldier Naimatullah testifed that the soldier, who was wearing body armor, “seemed nervous,” and when Naimatullah several times asked him to stop, he just said “How are you?” in Pashto and then something in English and pushed on into the base (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3)
  • Bill Rigby of Reuters, November 6:
      Testifying at a pre-trial hearing to determine whether Bales can be sent to a court martial, Private First Class Derek Guinn said he was told by Afghan guards that two U.S. soldiers were seen entering the compound in the early hours of March 11, and one was seen leaving again.

      But Guinn, who spoke to the guards through an interpreter, said he personally did not see anyone leaving or entering Camp Belambay.

  • Adam Ashton of McClatchy/The News Tribune, November 12:
      Last week, a U.S. soldier testified that he and three other junior soldiers at Bales’ outpost approached an Army criminal investigator with a theory that a second sergeant was involved in the killings. They based their speculation on reports from an Afghan guard that two Americans walked into Belambay late on the night of the killings, and one American left the base about 3 [2:30, per testimony? -pw] a.m.
  • Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times, November 6:
      Sitting under guard in the camp’s medical unit, Bales mentioned an earlier incident in Najiban, one of the two villages where the shootings occurred, in which U.S. troops were pinned down for up to half an hour by an insurgent’s PKM machine gun.

      Though aerial surveillance pinpointed the location of the gunner, a decision was made not to drop a bomb on the site because of possible injury to civilians. “He said basically, ‘Your team leader was weak,'” Sgt. 1st Class Derek King said Bales told him.

      “He said, ‘Remember that [expletive] PKM? That’s not going to happen again,'” Bales said, according to Sgt. Ross O’Rourke, who was sitting with King.

  • Adam Ashton of The News Tribune blog, November 6:
      For the second straight day, soldiers who served with Bales at Belambay expressed their disbelief that someone would independently leave a NATO combat outpost to kill Afghan villagers.

      “Utter amazement,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lance Allard, another 7th Special Forces Group Green Beret who was the No. 2 commander at Belambay.

      […]

      Allard explained that soldiers normally dress themselves in body armor and coordinate their plans to protect themselves. Witnesses said Bales did not wear his Kevlar vest when they saw him return to Belambay [from the south (when taken into custody) -pw]. Instead, he had a sheet tied around his neck like a cape.

      [Sgt. 1st Class Derek] King [of the 7th Special Forces Group] also overheard Bales connect his alleged massacre to a previous ambush soldiers encountered near Belambay. At the time, Bales of Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was frustrated that the American Special Forces commander leading the patrol did not have the attacker killed when a surveillance camera spotted the enemy’s position.

  • Laura Myers of Reuters, November 7:
      Several witnesses on the first two days of the hearing testified that Bales had been upset by the lack of action over an attack on a patrol several days [March 8th? -pw] before the shootings in which one soldier had the lower part of a leg blown off by [an IED] bomb.
  • Adam Ashton of The News Tribune blog, November 5:
      Three of the witnesses have suggested that Bales was upset about a March 5 [or March 8? -pw] attack that severely wounded a Navy explosive ordnance technician. Bales wanted to hit the enemy hard, Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Blackshear said, and was disappointed that the soldiers had waited to gather resources and intelligence.
  • Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times, November 6:
      [Bales] was particularly irate that no action had been taken in response to two homemade explosives planted in a nearby village [Mokhoyan, March 8th? -pw] five days before the shootings, one of which blew off the leg of a U.S. soldier.

      Under cross-examination by defense attorney Emma Scanlan, Master Sgt. Clifford Uhrich said he understood that 20 local men had been rounded up near a mosque and questioned about what they knew. [Rare, belated confirmation of a key portion of this important March 21, 2012 Associated Press report by Mirwais Khan. -pow wow]

      But nothing further had been done, unit members said, because the camp was short-staffed, and investigators hadn’t completed their work.

      [Sgt. 1st Class Clayton] Blackshear testified about another eerie middle-of-the-night visit he received as he was almost asleep, shortly before Bales is believed to have left the compound. “A figure came in and sat down on the chair. I recognized the figure … it was Sgt. Bales,” he said. Bales started talking about the IED attack.

      “He expressed quite a bit of concern about, I guess, the [camp’s] actions after the incidents that we hadn’t done enough, or wanted to do more to try to find the people that were responsible,” Blackshear said.

2:00 AM: Shooting started in the Najiban neighborhood of the Mohammad Wazir home, per March 11 media interviews of neighbors Gul Bashra/Anar Gul and Agha Lala.

  • Apparent Mohammad Wazir neighbor and Najiban ‘ear-witness’ Gul Bashra/Anar Gul told the BBC on video March 11 that: “It was 2:00 in the morning. I woke up for my fasting breakfast. When I turned the light on, I heard noises.”
  • Apparent Mohammad Wazir neighbor and Najiban eyewitness Agha Lala told Reuters March 11 that “he was awoken by gunfire at about 2 a.m.”

2:00 AM – 2:15 AM: SSG Bales was present inside Camp Belamby, per sworn testimony by American soldier SGT Jason McLaughlin, where and when Bales woke McLaughlin (whose alarm was set for 2:5030 AM ahead of a 3:00 AM guard shift), and told him: “I’ve just been to Alkozai and I shot up some people.” (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

  • Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times, November 6:

      “He said he’d just been to Alkozai, shot some people…. ‘I shot some military-age males.’ And I said, no you didn’t,” Sgt. Jason McLaughlin testified on the opening day of an Article 32 hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is charged with attacking two small farm villages during assaults that spanned five hours.

2:30 AM: Exit by a “laughing” American soldier from Camp Belamby, per sworn testimony by Afghanistan National Army soldier Pvt. Tosh Ali (who relieved Naimatullah at 2:00 AM, and was warned by Naimatullah to be “on the lookout”). Pvt. Tosh Ali heard gunfire half an hour later (at about 3:00 AM, halfway through his 2:00-4:00 AM guard shift). (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3)

  • Timing matches unnamed second Afghan soldier’s late March, 2012 media interview with Yalda Hakim of Australian public television
  • This timing also matches a March 23, 2012 account given to Robert Burns of the Associated Press by “members of the Afghan delegation investigating the killings”
  • ANA soldier Tosh Ali testifed that when this soldier was asked to stop, he too said “How are you?” in Pashto, and kept going, wearing body armor and a helmet (Testimony reports: 1, 2)

About 2:30 AM: The attack at the Mohammad Wazir home (1+ KM southwest of Camp Belamby) began, per a March 23, 2012 media interview of Mohammad Wazir, quoting (never-interviewed?) eyewitness and Najiban neighbor “Palwasha.”

  • Wazir told BusinessWeek/Bloomberg: “Most of the neighbors heard the attack but they stayed hidden in their homes because they were afraid … Palwasha told me that the gunfire woke her about 2:30 in the night, and she came out and saw the light flashes from guns — not one gun, but different guns — at my house,” Wazir said. “It was too dark to see the soldiers’ uniforms, she told us.”

2:00 or 3:00 AM: The attack at the Mohammad Dawood home (0.50 KM northeast of the Wazir home) began, per non-witness Haji Baran’s March 16 public statement (on behalf of family witnesses) to President Karzai in Kabul.

  • Non-witness Haji Baran told President Karzai March 16, 2012 on video that “it was two or three in the morning” when the Mohammad Dawood home was attacked
  • No known media interviews, or Article 32 testimony, of witnesses Massouma (Dawood’s wife) and Hekmatullah (Dawood’s son) mention what time they think the attack occurred at their home; except that this October 28-29, 2012 DailyBeast/Newsweek statement was apparently drawn from the interview with Massouma that Afghan reporter Muhib Habibi conducted for the article: “The men entered around 3 a.m.”

Around 3:00 AM: The attacker(s) at the Mohammad Dawood home entered the room, per a March, 2012 media interview of apparent witness (and Dawood nephew) Toor Jan/Ali Ahmed.

  • Toor Jan/Ali Ahmed told CNN on video in March, 2012 that “it was around 3 at night that they entered the room” at the Mohammad Dawood home

About 3:15 AM: SSG Bales was not in his Camp Belamby room, per sworn testimony by American soldier SGT Jason McLaughlin [which apparently finally prompted base preparations to ‘rescue’ or find Bales, which included a roll call, going to the gate and calling his name, and shooting up more flares]. (Testimony report: 1, 2)

  • After hearing, right after coming on guard duty at 3:00 AM, from Afghan soldiers about what they’d seen, and from the preceding American guard shift about the gunfire near Alkozai, SGT McLaughlin “ran to see if Staff Sgt. Bales was in his room” at Camp Belamby and found that “Staff Sgt. Bales wasn’t there.” (Testimony report: 1)

3:30 AM: Five Alkozai wounded [Haji Naim, Parmina, Sadiqullah, Rafiullah, and Zardana, all from Ibrahim Khan Houses] arrived at FOB Zangabad – location unconfirmed; reportedly either “about 20-30 kilometers” from Camp Belamby, or “just over a mile” from Camp Belamby according to “military in the area” – per sworn testimony by American Army medic MAJ Travis Hawks, who treated them, and by Haji Mohammad Naim’s son Faizullah, who drove them there. Notably, before SSG Bales returned to the base (at about 4:45 AM), COP Belamby received “reports of civilian casualties” (presumably including from FOB Zangabad after these five wounded arrived). (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3, 4)

4:36 AM: A balloon-mounted surveillance camera at FOB Zangabad spotted and recorded Bales headed toward Camp Belamby “from the direction of Najiban,” per Army video evidence shown at the Article 32 hearing – where American soldier SFC Clayton Blackshear testified that he saw Bales apprehended by fellow soldiers at about 4:45 AM. CPL David Godwin (who apprehended Bales with SGT Jason McLaughlin) testified that Bales was not wearing body armor, but had his helmet and night vision goggles, and was carrying a pistol and an M4 rifle with a grenade launcher. (Testimony reports: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

  • Bill Rigby of Reuters reported the Article 32 opening statement by Army prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Joseph “Jay” Morse, about the return of SSG Bales, this way:

      He is seen being confronted by three soldiers, including the two men prosecutors said he had been drinking with, who ordered him to drop his weapons and took him into custody as he is heard saying, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
  • Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times reported the same opening statement this way:
      A video surveillance camera from a helium balloon captured images of Bales, with a cape across his shoulder, approaching the base and being apprehended.

      [LTC Jay] Morse said Bales appeared surprised by his detention.

      His first reaction was, “Are you (expletive) kidding me,” Morse said. According to the prosecutor, Bales also asked a Special Forces soldier, “Did you rat me out?”

  • Adam Ashton of The News Tribune describing the opening statement video, and the subsequent witness testimony about the return of SSG Bales:
      [LTC] Morse capped his opening argument with a silent, 15-minute surveillance video that prosecutors say shows Bales returning from the second village. In it, a caped figure slinks along mud walls as he approaches the entrance to Bales’ outpost.

      The figure jogs to the gate, where he is met by armed U.S. soldiers. The man in the video drops an M4 rifle, a grenade launcher and a pistol. He puts his hands on his head and is escorted inside.

      McLaughlin and Godwin were the two soldiers who brought Bales into custody about 4:45 a.m. that day. They remembered him as bloodied from his face to his boots.

      […]

      Each thought Bales had a strange appearance – heavily armed, not wearing his Kevlar vest, but wearing a sheet like a cape. They figured he wore it like that because he’d heard Taliban insurgents were using tarps to conceal themselves from American surveillance cameras.

  • Also from Adam Ashton, at The News Tribune blog:
      “Are you (expletive) kidding me?” [Bales] shouted at two soldiers who raised their weapons at him while he jogged into Belambay, three witnesses have testified.
  • From Gene Johnson’s Associated Press testimony summary:
      When Bales returned, [Sgt. Jason] McLaughlin testifies, he was one of the soldiers to confront him and tell him to surrender his weapons: “The first words out of his mouth were, ‘Are you (expletive) kidding me?'”

Of the 11 Afghan family members who testified at the Article 32 hearing, the prosecution apparently called nine (all male), and the defense two (both young girls, one of whom was the only survivor called to testify about the deaths of Haji Nazar Mohammad and his two-year-old daughter Tora/Gulalai). The lone adult eyewitness present during the attack who was called to testify was Haji Mohammad Naim of Alkozai (Naim was shot three times at close range, and lost consciousness for four days). Apparently Leona Mansapit – the U.S. Army investigator who had interviewed Massouma, eyewitness widow of Mohammad Dawood – was a defense witness too; Mansapit was called to testify (on November 10-11) about what Massouma had privately told Mansapit in June, 2012. (See the foot of the post for Massouma’s accounts.) “The prosecution says that 17 Afghans have said they are willing to testify via video,” Ernesto Londono of The Washington Post wrote during the early portion of the Article 32 hearing, when Americans were testifying. Of the 14 Afghans (including two Army soldiers and a police investigator) who in fact testified by video link later that week, I’ve never seen English-language media interviews of Faizullah or Quadratullah from Alkozai, or of Khamal Adin about the Najiban scene he sorted through, or of Major Khudai Dad about the Afghan police investigation. Most of the other Afghans who testified have been interviewed very rarely by English-language reporters – only once or twice each, in general, as documented below. And, as noted at the beginning of my July, 2012 post, multiple (often key female) eyewitnesses have never been heard from at all (in the media or in the Article 32 hearing), including the eyewitness widow of Haji Nazar Mohammad of Alkozai.

This is the order in which the Afghans appear to have given their testimony in November (I followed a different order below):

Fri-Sat PT, Nov. 9-10, 2012

ANA soldier Naimatullah (12:00-2:00 AM Camp Belamby guard shift 3/11)
ANA soldier Tosh Ali (2:00-4:00 AM Camp Belamby guard shift 3/11, relieving Naimatullah)

Khamal Adin – (Najiban); Mohammad Wazir cousin
Faizullah – (Alkozai); Mohammad Naim son
Sadiqullah – Alkozai; Mohammad Naim son
Quadratullah – Alkozai; Mohammad Naim son
Mohammad Naim – Alkozai

Sat-Sun PT, Nov. 10-11, 2012

Samiullah – (Alkozai); Sayed Jan son
Zardana – Alkozai; Sayed Jan granddaughter
Rafiullah – Alkozai; Sayed Jan grandson
Robina – Alkozai; Nazar Mohammad daughter
Hekmatullah “Khan” Gul – South of Belamby; Mohammad Dawood son
Mullah Baraan – (South of Belamby); Mohammad Dawood brother

Sun-Mon PT, Nov. 11-12, 2012

Major Khudai Dad/Khudaydad,
Chief of Criminal Techniques,
Afghan Uniform Police

Map made possible by the invaluable on-the-ground Zangabad research of Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani. Superimposed graphic design by Lela Ahmadzai of 2470Media

Rare map made possible by Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani‘s invaluable on-site Zangabad research. Superimposed graphic design by Lela Ahmadzai of 2470Media. Click for larger version. *The identities of the victims listed on the still-redacted June 1, 2012 Army Charge Sheet are only known because of a January 17, 2013 Associated Press report that named them.

________________________________________________________________

ALKOZAI
(Ibrahim Khan Houses & Mosque)

(About 0.60 kilometer north of Camp Belamby; 4 killed; 7 wounded) ________________________________________________________________

Before I begin quoting the Article 32 reporting about Rafiullah’s testimony (which is quite abbreviated and confusing), this is my summary – based on a careful transcription of the translation of a lengthy interview of Rafiullah conducted in Kabul in October, 2012 (the month before the sworn Article 32 testimony quoted below was given) – of much of what Rafiullah said he experienced that night, first in his own home, and then in the home of his neighbor to the east, Haji Mohammad Naim, during the attack at the Ibrahim Khan Houses neighborhood of Alkozai village (north of COP Belamby):

Rafiullah is the grandson of farmer or “gardener” Haji Sayed Jan and his wife Nikmarghah – who’d raised him since he was one month old. Rafiullah’s grandmother Khalida (aka Nikmarghah, the wife of Sayed Jan) was shot and killed on March 11 while trying to protect her grandchildren from an American soldier – first in her own home, and then in the home of her neighbor Haji Mohammad Naim, where she and her family had fled. Rafiullah first awoke that night when a bare-headed American soldier (wearing no helmet) kicked open the door of the room in which he, his younger sister and grandmother were sleeping, in the home of his grandfather Haji Sayed Jan, and his grandmother began to scream. Upon awaking, Rafiullah saw the soldier standing in the doorway and heard his grandmother’s screams. Rafiullah too began to scream. The soldier beckoned them outside, while saying something Rafiullah did not understand. His sister Zardana ran ahead, and his grandmother and Rafiullah soon followed, first to an unused or damaged area of their home where they kept animals, and then east to the nearby home of their neighbor Haji Mohammad Naim. Left behind in a guest room of the Sayed Jan home was farm laborer Khudaydad (a cousin of Rafiullah’s father Samiullah), who was killed sometime during the attack (possibly while running to help in response to their screams, based on an April, 2013 Associated Press interview of Zardana – her first media interview). The family cow followed them part way to Haji Mohammad Naim’s home next door, and at some point was shot but not killed. The three fled to the middle room of three in an area of the home of Haji Mohammad Naim (next to the room of Naim and his wife) where Naim’s son Sadiqullah and daughter Parmina were present, and Rafiullah lit the lantern and warned them that “an American guy is here.” At least two family members of Haji Nazar Mohammad (two young daughters, neither of whom testified, or have ever been interviewed) apparently also ran to that room from their home (on the east side of the Naim residence) during the 30-minute attack, before a soldier entered and started shooting. The seven in that room at Haji Naim’s when the shooting began, according to Rafiullah, were Zulheja and her sister “Rubbinah”/”Robina” (both young daughters of Haji Nazar Mohammad, from a home that shared the east wall – with a connecting door – of Haji Naim’s); Rafiullah, Zardana, and Nikmarghah (from a detached home on the west side of Haji Naim’s); and Haji Naim’s son Sadiqullah and daughter Parmina. The soldier shot Rafiullah in both legs with a pistol (a single bullet hit him in the left thigh – possibly after he’d jumped under a bed – ricocheted off the wall, and then hit him in the right thigh), causing Rafiullah to lose consciousness, and his 7-year-old sister Zardana was shot in the head and critically wounded. Rafiullah stated that, of the seven people present in that room when a soldier started shooting, Zulheja was the only one who was not injured – and yet her name (but not those of her sisters) appears on Al Jazeera’s unsourced March, 2012 list of Panjwai wounded. Rafiullah repeatedly stated during the October interview that on his way from Haji Sayed Jan’s home to Haji Mohammad Naim’s home with a soldier behind him (that is, while running between the high walls of the neighboring “compounds”), he “saw many lights in the garden” at different levels, and “heard footsteps,” indicating the presence of other soldiers. (The first media interview of Zardana, by the Associated Press in April, 2013, appears to corroborate this account by her brother.) Rafiullah’s parents (his father Samiullah and mother, whose name is unknown to me) were then (as Rafiullah is now) residing in Kandahar city with his older brother and younger sister Zardana – who was on a brief visit to the home of her grandparents in Alkozai on the night of the attack. Rafiullah’s grandfather Haji Sayed Jan was away from home that night because he was delivering firewood to heat Rafiullah’s father’s Kandahar city home. (See also 2470media’s important, English/German-subtitled October, 2012 video interview of Rafiullah.)

The reports of November, 2012 testimony given – under oath – by Afghan witnesses and survivors of the attack – as recorded by members of the media in attendance during the Bales Article 32 hearing (who struggled to hear the translated testimony, conveyed via late-night video link from Afghanistan to a military courtroom) – are collected and enclosed in gray boxes below. Normal background is used for other, non-Article 32 reporting. [Underlining/emphasis is mine.]

RAFIULLAH – grandson of Haji Sayed Jan & Nikmarghah, who raised him; son of Samiullah and wife

Rafiullah, Zardana’s brother, said the two of them were staying with their grandmother and younger sibling [the second younger sibling is new information to me -pow wow] when the gunman entered, a blazing light on his gun, and pointed his pistol at his sister.

His grandmother, Na’ikmarga, “tackled” the gunman as Zardana and Rafiullah bolted next door, he said. Na’ikmarga eventually caught up with the two youngsters, but the gunman followed and shot all three of them, killing Na’ikmarga and several other people who were at the adjoining compound [according to the Army Charge Sheet victim list, no one but Na’ikmarga was killed at the Haji Naim home -pow wow]. Rafiullah was hit in the leg. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD – Holding back tears, 15-year-old Rafiullah described how his grandmother wrestled with a uniformed gunman who put a pistol in his sister’s mouth.

In the end, he added, the man shot all three of them, one by one.

[…]

Rafiullah, who spoke in Pashtun [Pashto -pw] and donned traditional garb, said he was sleeping next to his grandmother, Na’ikmarga, and his sister, Zardana, when there was a knock on the door.

After his grandmother got up to see what was going on, the man “came into the room and asked me to come outside and we started shouting … he was wearing a uniform,” Rafiullah said, sniffing as he recounted the night’s events.

Asked if the uniform worn by the man resembled those of US soldiers, he said “yes.”

“He had rifle and a pistol,” Rafiullah said of the man. “He put a pistol in my sister’s mouth and then my grandmother started to wrestle with him. At that time I ran out of the door … My sister and I were running. As soon as he left the room, my grandmother ran too.”

When asked what happened next, Rafiullah responded: “He shot my grandmother and then my sister, and then me. He shot me on my legs. Zardana was shot on her head.”
Agence France-Presse, Nov. 12, 2012

One of the villagers, a 15-year-old boy who was wounded in the rampage in Alkozai but survived by hiding, testified to the hearing at a U.S. Army base in Washington state that the shooter wore a U.S. military uniform.

“He put his pistol in my sister’s mouth and then my grandmother started wrestling with him,” the boy, introduced to the court by the single name of Rafiullah, said via video link from Kandahar Air Field. “He shot me in my legs.”
– Bill Rigby, Reuters, Nov. 11, 2012

Defense attorney John Henry Browne reminded Rafiullah that he has told another one of Bales’ defense attorneys that multiple soldiers were in the fields around his home. […]

The boy said he was scared that more Americans were in the fields around his village of Alkozai.

“I might have told (the defense attorney) that, but I don’t remember,” he said.
– Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 10, 2012

A 15-year-old boy named Rafiullah, speaking through an interpreter, described being shot in the legs on the morning of March 11 in Kandahar Province. […]

Did he remember telling an interviewer from the defense team just last month that he had seen “many soldiers”? Sergeant Bales’s lead defense lawyer, John Henry Browne, asked.

“There might have been some soldiers,” the boy answered. “We were scared.”

[…]

“How many Americans did you see?” Maj. John Riesenberg, one of the prosecutors, asked during the Saturday night session.

“I just saw one,” the boy answered. But then he quickly added, “There might have been more — I just saw one.”– Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 11, 2012

Rafiullah’s first interview in the English-language media, by Jon Stephenson of McClatchy, was published May 16, 2012 (with an important accompanying graphic; Stephenson’s graphic, however, is evidently inaccurate in certain key respects, based on both the lengthy Rafiullah interview summarized above, and the quoted Article 32 testimony – as is his article’s opening description of how Rafiullah awoke that night):

Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By Jon Stephenson | McClatchy Newspapers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It was early in the morning, perhaps 2 a.m., when gunfire awoke 14-year-old Rafiullah.

He looked outside the house he’d been sleeping in with his grandmother, an aunt, two cousins and his sister, and he saw a man with a weapon walk to a shed that housed the family cow and open fire, shooting the animal dead.

“I told the women inside our room: ‘Let’s run! Let’s get out of here,'” recalled Rafiullah, who like many Afghans goes by only one name. In the next compound, a short distance from the house where Rafiullah had been sleeping, Haji Mohammad Naim awoke to the sound of dogs barking wildly in the street.

[…]

How valuable Naim’s and Rafiullah’s testimony would be in a U.S. military court is unclear. Both said they didn’t see the shooter’s face clearly enough to identify him, and both are uncertain about the exact time, noting that no one in the houses had a watch. Officials haven’t divulged which village they think was attacked first.

[…] Before the shooting ended in Alkozai, Rafiullah’s grandmother [Nikmarghah -pw] was dead, his sister [Zardana -pw] was critically wounded, three other people had been killed and five others were wounded in three adjacent houses. Most of the victims were related by blood or marriage.

[…]

Terror unfolded in the crowded space [at the Haji Naim home -pw], the frightened faces of women and children illuminated only by a light that Rafiullah said appeared to be affixed to an assault rifle. The shooter drove everyone before him, herding and hunting his victims like animals.

Spotting Rafiullah, he seized one of the boy’s arms. Rafiullah said his grandmother seized his other arm, to try to stop the soldier from dragging him away. The soldier turned on her.

“He shot my grandmother, he wounded my sister Zardana and wounded me,” Rafiullah said. “He opened fire on Naim’s son, Sadiqullah, and also opened fire on Naim’s daughter. Then the soldier left.”

Help for the wounded eventually arrived, although Rafiullah – like Naim – had fallen unconscious, and was unable later to say how long it took to get there. The survivors were rushed, by a relative who’d borrowed a car, to a nearby U.S.-Afghan base [FOB Zangabad -pw], then flown by helicopter to a U.S. military hospital at Kandahar airfield.

Rafiullah, who had a gunshot wound to each leg, found himself in a bed next to Naim’s son, Sadiqullah, who’d received a bullet wound to his right earlobe.

Rafiullah told McClatchy that Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, phoned him in the aftermath of the attack and U.S. authorities later interviewed him while he was in the hospital. “Two times they talked to me,” he said.

A day or two after the massacre, he also spoke to the man Karzai had appointed as his chief investigator into the killings, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan army chief .

“To all of them I said the same thing,” Rafiullah said. “I saw only one shooter.”

[…]

Rafiullah has largely recovered from the physical wounds.

Rafiullah’s second English-language media interview was published on the eve of the Article 32 hearing in November by the Los Angeles Times, and, like the summary above, was also based on a lengthy early October interview of Rafiullah in Kabul:

November 04, 2012|By Kim Murphy and Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times

“I saw the man in the door and my grandmother crying and screaming,” said a teenager named Rafiullah, who, like many Afghans, uses only one name. Rafiullah said he, his sister and grandmother ran next door and joined several others at the home of Haji Naim.

“The room was a mess, everyone was screaming…. Haji Naim stood up and demanded what is going on. And the American shot him,” he said. “We were seven people in the room when we were shot. My grandmother, my sister, me, two of Haji Naim’s kids [Parmina and Sadiqullah -pw] and two of Haji Nizar’s kids [evidently Haji Nazar’s young daughters Rubbinah and Zulheja -pw].”

The youth swept his hand in front of him as if raking a room with gunfire. “He used a pistol,” he said. Four people, including Rafiullah’s grandmother, died in Alkozai. Six people, among them Rafiullah and his sister, were injured.

[…]

Both youths [Rafiullah, from north of COP Belamby, and Mohammad Dawood’s son Hekmatullah, from south of COP Belamby -pw] described seeing bright lights outside the houses during the attacks.

[…]

Only one family is left in the area of Alkozai where Rafiullah lived; he and his grandfather moved to another village [and/or to the Kandahar city home of Rafiullah’s father Samiullah -pw]. Najiban is a ghost town; residents fled, fearing the Americans and the Taliban. Wazir has moved 2 1/2 hours away to live with his brother in Spin Buldak. He and the others are still haunted by the killings.

Rafiullah said: “I see his face in my dreams, and sometimes I hear my sister waking up at the same time, screaming. I am praying every night, please God don’t make this happen again.”

Then there’s a brief CBS News television interview of Rafiullah, aired the night before Afghan testimony began at the Article 32 hearing, which includes footage of one of Rafiullah’s leg wounds:

November 8, 2012 7:34 PM

Afghans recall massacre horror ahead of soldier’s trial

By Kelly Cobiella

At night, a survivor of the massacre named Rafiullah told CBS News, the nightmares return.

“I see everything clearly,” he said in [Pashto -pw], “Over and over.”

The 15-year-old is one of the few [male… -pw] eyewitnesses to survive the massacre.

Rafiullah said he was at home asleep on March 11th when a man broke down the door.

“He pushed me against the wall, and put the pistol to my sister’s head,” he said. “We all started shouting: ‘Don’t kill her.'”

When the shooting started, Rafiullah ran to another room.

“We heard gunshots,” he said. “My uncle [presumably meaning his great-uncle Nazar Mohammad (brother of Rafiullah’s grandfather Sayed Jan) -pw], my little cousin [Nazar Mohammad’s two-year-old daughter Toraki/Gulalai/Khatima -pw] and my grandmother [Khalida/Nikmarghah -pw] were killed. I was told to put my hands on the wall, and then he shot my sister [pre-teen Zardana -pw] in the head.

Rafiullah was wounded in both thighs. He told us the shooting lasted half an hour. When we asked how many gunmen he had seen that night, Rafiullah answered “One.”

“He wore an American uniform,” he said. “He had a gun but no helmet. He shot us with a pistol.”

Rafiullah’s next English-language media interview was conducted five months after the Article 32 hearing, by Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press, and published May 16, 2013:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP)

From another home that was attacked that night, 16-year-old Rafiullah remembers the American soldier smashing through the door waving his pistol. Awakened in a small room with his grandmother and his sister Zardana, he said he didn’t know what to do. “We just ran and he ran after us.”

[…]

Gesturing with his hand as if spraying the room with gunfire, Rafiullah said the soldier “just went bang, bang, bang.”

Rafiullah was wounded in both his legs, his grandmother was killed and Zardana was shot in the head.

ZARDANA – granddaughter of Haji Sayed Jan & Nikmarghah; daughter of Samiullah and wife

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Looking gravely across a courtroom in Afghanistan, 7-year-old Zardana raised her hand Saturday and swore to testify truthfully about the night a man who prosecutors say was a U.S. soldier shot her in the head, shot her brother in the leg and killed her grandmother.

[…]

“Yes I do, and I’m not going to lie,” said Zardana, wearing a lavender headscarf and fiddling with a juice box as her image was beamed by video to another courtroom in Washington state, where U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with 16 counts of murder.

Alternately grave and smiling while sitting at the long witness table next to an interpreter, Zardana was asked to testify only about the color of the T-shirt her attacker was wearing during the predawn attack March 11 in the village of Alkozai.

“He was wearing pants like this color,” Zardana said, pointing to the interpreter’s khaki shirt, “and also a T-shirt like you’re wearing,” nodding toward defense lawyer John Henry Browne’s black T-shirt.

Even that brief testimony was an accomplishment: Doctors at a remote U.S. Army post near Kandahar, seeing pieces of brain in her hair after the shootings, had given her up as hopeless. They turned to other, less injured patients. Then when they were finished, they discovered that the little girl was, against all odds, still breathing. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

Zardana, who was seven when she was allegedly shot by Bales and received treatment at a US military hospital, also testified.
Wearing a purple head scarf and sipping from a juice box, she confirmed that her shooter was wearing a khaki-colored T-shirt. Agence France-Presse, Nov. 12, 2012

Another 7-year-old testified she was wounded during the rampage, shot in the head by a man who she described as wearing tan pants and a black t-shirt.

Survivors who took the stand on Saturday [Haji Mohammad Naim and his son Quadratullah – pow wow] described the shooter as an American wearing camouflage pants and a tan t-shirt. – Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 11, 2012

Robina’s friend, Zardana, now 8, also testified, but only briefly to describe what the shooter was wearing.

Zardana suffered a gunshot wound to the top of her head, and when she arrived at a nearby military base, the doctors focused on treating the other injured victims first. They figured Zardana had no chance of surviving.

After two months at a military hospital in Afghanistan and three more at a Navy hospital in San Diego, she can walk and talk again.

Before she testified, Zardana sat at the witness table sipping from a pink juice box through a pink straw. A loose head covering and a barrette held her dark brown hair out of her face. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 11, 2012

The other 7-year-old girl had more trouble walking. Zardana was shot in the head and nearly died on the night of the killings. The military sent her to a Navy hospital in San Diego for advanced care.

She and her father, Samiullah, spent three months there. They even went sight-seeing, Samiullah testified tonight.

Zardana wore a shiny purple dress and she wrapped her hair with a purple scarf. She smiled at a screen showing the Lewis-McChord courtroom at the NATO base in Kandahar in which she testified [the Kandahar base was Camp Nathan Smith, according to Adam’s account here -pow wow].

“I’m not going to lie,” she said when she was sworn in.

Both girls were wounded in the village of Alkozai, the first community Bales allegedly attacked on March 11.– Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 10, 2012

On May 16, 2012, Jon Stephenson of McClatchy reported:

Zardana, Rafiullah’s sister, is the victim most in need of specialized care. Shot in the head, she remains partially paralyzed in the U.S. base hospital. Her uncle, Juma Khan, said U.S. officials had yet to follow through on a pledge to get her more sophisticated care in the United States.

“If the Americans can’t organize these simple things, they should return Zardana to us so the world can see her condition,” he said. “If America can’t help us, we will ask the international community for help.”

Zardana’s first, and so far only, English-language media interview was in April, 2013 with Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press, for a May 16, 2013 story (a year to the day after Stephenson’s valuable, singular report about Zardana’s condition):

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP)

Zardana, 11, said a cousin [Khudaydad, killed at the home of Haji Sayed Jan -pw] dashed over to help. He was shot and killed, she said. “We couldn’t stop. We just wanted somewhere to hide. I was holding on to my grandmother and we ran to our neighbors.” Their neighbor, Naim, came out of his house to see what the noise was all about and was shot and wounded. His daughter then ran to him but was killed [injured, if that daughter is Parmina -pw] by the American soldier, Zardana said, struggling to remember and fiddling with her green scarf decorated with tiny sequins.

Zardana, who said she saw soldiers in a nearby field as she ran from one house to the next, remembers trying to hide behind her grandmother at the neighbor’s house. But the soldier found them.

[…]

She removed her scarf to show where the wound had healed; the effects will last a lifetime. She suffered nerve damage on her left side and has to walk with a cane. Her hand is too weak to hold anything heavy.

Zardana spent about two months recovering at the Kandahar Air Base hospital and three more at a naval hospital in San Diego receiving rehabilitation therapy, accompanied by her father, Samiullah.

[…]

“They showed me so much love,” she said with a tiny smile. “They asked me about what happened and when I told them how my grandmother died and how afraid I was and how I was shot, they cried and cried.”

SAMIULLAH – of Kandahar city; son of Haji Sayed Jan & Nikmarghah; father of Rafiullah & Zardana

Samiullah, Rafiullah and Zardana’s father who was in Kandahar City at the time of the attack, recalled the horror of coming home to carnage.
Upon arrival, he saw the bodies of four Afghans on the ground – including those of a father and his daughter [Haji Nazar Mohammad and his two-year-old daughter Tora/Toraki, from the home east of Haji Naim’s -pow wow]. “She was laying by her father’s side,” he said of the girl. “She was shot on her head and her head was all bloody.” Agence France-Presse, Nov. 12, 2012

[Rafiullah’s] father, Samiullah, was away when the shootings occurred, and testified that by the time he returned the next morning, his two wounded children had been driven to a base for treatment. He found his mother among the four corpses at the compound.

“I just saw her, I cried, and I could not look on her face,” he said. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 11, 2012

On Saturday, a man who was away from his village when the massacre took place returned home to find his mother’s body [Nikmarghah, grandmother of Rafiullah and Zardana, from the home west of Haji Naim’s].

“I just saw her, I cried and I could not look on her face,” said Samiullah.

Samiullah said his 7-year-old daughter Zardana was shot in the head in the attack and was later treated at a Navy hospital in San Diego. He said she can now walk and talk again.
– Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10-11, 2012

Zardana spent three months in a U.S. Navy hospital in San Diego over the summer. “The first time I saw her, I wasn’t sure she was going to live,” her father, Samiullah, testified Saturday. “The only thing she was doing was opening her eyes.”

But in the U.S., he said, she underwent successful medical treatment. “They tried their best and they helped a lot…. She’s better now.”– Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

In addition to a passing reference to a comment of his in April, 2013, during the first English-language media interview of his injured daughter Zardana (with whom Samiullah spent 2-3 months at a Navy hospital in San Diego in 2012), comments from Samiullah (a Kandahar city resident) have appeared in English-language media accounts about the massacre in March, 2012, March, 2013 (including for the first time on video) and June, 2013, as follows:

First, by Afghan reporter Sayed Salahuddin for the Washington Post, March 23, 2012:

Samisami-Ullah, a 30-year-old farmer, identified those [Alkozai -pw] victims as his mother, uncle and two cousins. Three others in his family were wounded, he said, along with three from his neighbors’ families. Five of the six wounded were transported to a U.S. military hospital, where three victims remain.

One girl, superficially wounded, was treated at a local hospital, villagers said.

[…]

To date [March 23rd, 2012, the date that Bales was charged with 17 murders -pw], the U.S. military has not contacted any witnesses or those who lost relatives, said [Mohammad -pw] Wazir, provincial officials and others who have talked to the massacre victims’ families. “None of them have come to investigate, or to talk to us, or seen the village,” Wazir said angrily. “We want justice.”

[…]

Samisami-Ullah said that wounded relatives told him, “There were 10 soldiers in our neighborhood alone.”


Second, by Afghan reporter Ibrahim Speasaly for Deutsche Welle, March 11, 2013:

Samiullah cannot forget how the members of his family lay there in a pool of blood. The images continue to give him nightmares a year later. He has trouble sleeping at night. He will forever be haunted by the scene, he says.

“The first person I saw dead on the floor was my old mother. Then I saw my old uncle Nazar Mohammad Aka, with his long, white beard. My [adult male cousin Khudaydad -pw] was also dead as well as my cousin, Tora. She was precious.”

Samiullah takes a deep breath. “These four people are martyrs. Then I saw my small children – my son [Rafiullah -pw] and daughter [Zardana -pw] and also my niece [presumably meaning one of the wounded sisters of his cousin Tora/Toraki (his father Haji Sayed Jan’s nieces) – Robina/Noorbinak, or Rubbinah -pw]. All three were injured.”

[…]

“We have waited for exactly a year now. Our government is weak and has not paid any attention to us,” the 35-year-old says angrily. “The trial should have taken place in Afghanistan. The murders were, after all, committed in Afghanistan. We lost members of our families. The injustice was done to us; the oppressors have done wrong and we are the ones who suffer from it. We want those responsible to be brought to justice.”

Third, on video, by Jennifer Glasse for Al Jazeera, March 12, 2013 (as transcribed):

“This ruthless man should be sentenced. He killed our women and children. He killed them at 3:00 o’clock in the morning. It was incredible brutality.

The president promised us there would be no bombing; no civilians would be killed. You can see it happening in Kandahar, Uruzgan, Kunar; in every area civilians are being killed. They haven’t fulfilled any of their promises.”

Fourth, by Kathy Gannon for the Associated Press, May 16, 2013:

Listening as she spoke, Samiullah smiled at his lanky daughter [Zardana -pw], encouraging her to say the only English phrase she knows: “Thank you.”

Fifth, by Hal Bernton for the Seattle Times, June 5-6, 2013:

Samiullah, another relative of the victims, also expressed dismay that Bales avoided a death sentence.

“We want the suspect to be punished. What can someone poor do against so much power?” he told [Lela] Ahmadzai.

SADIQULLAH – a son of Haji Mohammad Naim and his never-interviewed wife (name unknown)

A boy who was awoken by a neighbour during a massacre in Afghanistan in March testified at a hearing for the U.S. soldier accused in the attack about hiding in a storage room and being struck by a bullet.

Sadiquallah, a slight boy whose head rose just above the back of the seat he was sitting in, testified by live video feed from Kandahar during a hearing at a military base outside Seattle for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

[…]

Speaking through an interpreter, the boy said a neighbour woke him up when she screamed that an American had “killed our men.”

He said he and another boy ran to hide in a storage room and ducked behind a curtain.

Sadiquallah said the shooter had a gun and a light, but he did not identify the person as Bales. Doctors have said a bullet grazed the boy’s head, and that the other child was hit in the thigh and also survived.

“I was hiding behind the curtains. A bullet hit me,” the boy said, who is 13 or 14 and whose ears stuck out from beneath his white cap. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10, 2012

Sadiquallah, a slight boy of about 13 or 14 whose head rose just above his chair at the witness table, described being awakened by a neighbor screaming that an American had “killed our men.”

He said he and another boy, Zardana’s brother, ran to hide in a storage room and ducked behind a curtain. It provided no protection from the bullet that grazed his head and fractured his skull. Sadiquallah said the shooter had a gun and a light, but he could not identify the man. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 11, 2012

“Yes, I saw him, he came after me, I went to another room,” said Naim’s son Sadiquallah, who said he was 13 or 14 years old. He described how he hid behind a curtain in a storage room with one other child, and was hit in the ear with a bullet, but did not see who fired the shot.

“How many Americans did you see?” one of the prosecution attorneys asked Sadiquallah. “One,” he replied. – Bill Rigby, Reuters, Nov. 10, 2012

Another witness, a boy named Sadiquallah, who said he was “around 13 or 14,” ran with another boy and hid behind some curtains in a back room. Sadiquallah said he had seen a man with a gun and a light, but had been more intent on hiding than looking around.

“In that room where I was hiding behind the curtains, a bullet hit me,” he said. The bullet struck one of his ears, but he said he had not heard the gunfire. The boy hiding with him [evidently Rafiullah -pw] was wounded as well, Sadiquallah said. – Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 9-10, 2012

Naim’s son, 13-year-old Sadiquallah, testified he was awakened by a neighbor screaming that an American was killing people.

The teen said he ran to a storeroom, hiding behind the curtain that covered the entrance way. Still, he said, he suffered a wound when he was grazed in the head by a bullet.

“I saw him once,” Sadiquallah said of the shooter. That was when he entered the compound and “shot up the family.”
– Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 10, 2012

Sadiquallah Naim was asleep in his room when his neighbors came knocking on the door of his mud-walled house in a remote village in southern Afghanistan on March 11, in the dead of night.

The Americans are here,” they said.

[…]

The boy was one of seven witnesses to take the stand at a proceeding that began at 7:30 p.m. Friday and lasted until after 2 a.m. that night, because it took place on Afghanistan time. Two guards and five villagers spoke in graphic detail of the brutal middle-of-the-night attack on their homes and families.

[…]

The hearing was at times impossible to follow, due to problems with interpreters, and the inherent challenge of cross-examining a witness via the Army’s version of Skype. Reporters sat in a nearby overflow room during the late-night proceeding, quizzing one another on whether the witness said he was shot in the “ear” or in his “hair.”

[…]

They [Haji Naim and his son Quadratullah -pw] saw just one man, wearing a black T-shirt and camouflage pants, a headlight obscuring his face, wielding an assault rifle with a light attached to it, […]

Sadiquallah’s neighbors told his family that night, “They shot our family“—a woman he knew well “told us he killed our men,” the boy testified—before an American soldier burst into his room. He ran, he said, and hid behind a curtain, but was shot in the ear by one of the many bullets that were being fired in his house.

“Were you scared?” the military prosecutor asked the boy. “Yes,” he replied, his face bowed. “How many Americans did you see?” the officer asked. “One,” answered Sadiquallah.
– Winston Ross, The Daily Beast, Nov. 10, 2012 [There are evidently some major errors in the linked Daily Beast post with regard to the testimony about who was killed in the Naim household that night. I’ve excluded those errors (which are common in first-pass reporting about the massacre) from the excerpts in this post. -pw]

“How many Americans did you see?” the military prosecutor asked.

[…]

“One,” said Sadiquallah. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 10, 2012

1:50 a.m. update: Two children of Haji Mohammed Naim woke up early March 11 with a neighbor’s wife screaming “He killed my man.”

A chaotic and violent scene followed, with children screaming and running for cover from an American soldier armed with a rifle mounted with an intimidating flashlight, the brothers Sadiquallah and Quadratullah remembered in testimony piped into Joint Base Lewis-McChord tonight.

They testified at an Army evidence hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 Afghans and wounded six more. One of his alleged victims is known as Nazar Mohamed, the husband of the woman who ran into the brothers’ home wailing on the night of the massacre.

Sadiquallah is a soft-spoken 13-year old who was shot in the ear on the night of the killings. He fidgeted through his testimony, and frequently looked down at the ground while he answered questions through an interpreter.

He hid behind a curtain while the American soldier shot up his home, he said.

“He came after me,” Sadiquallah said. – Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 9-10, 2012

Sadiqullah (aka “Sediqullah”) gave his first (and only?) English-language media account of his experiences that night to Yalda Hakim of Australia’s DatelineSBS program, in late March, 2012:

[Yalda Hakim:] I wanted to ask survivors of the attack what they had seen, but I was blocked by the US military. The survivors were children, I was told, and the Americans now treating them said they didn’t want them traumatised by my questions. It was only after personal intervention by President Karzai himself that I was finally granted permission to see the survivors, and to hear the chilling accounts of what they’d been through.

SEDIQULLAH (Translation): The bullet hit my ear like this and went through here scraped here and came out here. When my father came out, he shot my father and then he entered our room. We ran from that room to the other room – he came and shot us in that room and then he left.

When Jon Stephenson of McClatchy interviewed Haji Mohammad Naim and Rafiullah in Kandahar in May, 2012, he also spoke to Sadiqullah, after which he reported:

A third survivor, Naim’s 11-year-old son, Sadiqullah, also was interviewed. But he said he’d remained hidden behind a curtain throughout the violence, and it was uncertain what he’d seen.

[…]

Sadiqullah had been wounded earlier by shrapnel from an American mortar round that had landed near his home.

Sadiqullah underwent surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Kandahar after that attack, too, and his wound had barely healed by the night of the massacre.

Haji MOHAMMAD NAIM – husband of never-interviewed wife (name unknown); father of teenagers Parmina (shot in chest & groin) and Sadiqullah (shot through ear); shared wall with east-side neighbor Haji Nazar Mohammad; neighbor on west side (no shared wall) was Haji Sayed Jan; father of at least 9 sons (married Naim son, and witness, Habibullah was killed by a NATO airstrike in September, 2012)

2:15 a.m. update: A night of haunting testimony from witnesses to a March massacre in Afghan villages concluded with Haji Mohammed Naim testifying [that] an American soldier shot him in the neck at extremely close range.

The shooter “was as close as this bottle,” he said, gesturing to a water bottle a few feet from his face.

He pointed to three spots on his neck and upper chest, saying the gunman shot him “here, here and here.”

[…]

Naim said he woke up early on the night of a mass shooting in his village to the sound of barking dogs and gunfire. He figured Afghan National Army soldiers were preparing to search his village, Alkozai.

Instead, an American with a rifle and a blinding flashlight on his weapon jumped a wall and appeared in his family compound, he testified tonight.

“What are you doing?” Naim said he asked the American.

Naim did not get a reply.– Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 9-10, 2012

“He shot me right here,” said Haji Mohamed Naim, the father of nine sons in the village of Alkozai, the scene of the first shootings.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said all he could see was a strong light on the head of a soldier who was not more than half a yard away from him when he started shooting.

Naim said he was awoken in the night by sounds of shots and dogs barking, and then children from the next door house knocked on his door. He then described how an “American” jumped from a wall before confronting him and starting to shoot.
– Bill Rigby, Reuters, Nov. 10, 2012

The boys’ father, Haji Mohammed Naim, was the first person shot at the home. He testified that he was awoken by shots and dogs barking. He asked his wife to light a lantern, and saw the shooter climb over a compound wall.

“He jumped from the wall, and I just saw the light on his head,” Naim said. “He just started shooting me.”

Asked how close the gunman was to him when he was shot, the thick-bearded Naim gestured toward a water bottle on the table in front of him, less than an arm’s length away: “He was as close as this bottle.”
– Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10, 2012

Next, Quadratullah’s father, a farmer named Haji Naim, took the stand, in a long white beard and turban. He awoke to dogs barking and gunshots, he said, and turned on a kerosene lantern to see what was going on. He thought maybe the Afghan National Army had come to the village, searching for someone.

Moments later, an American soldier stormed into his room, Naim said. He didn’t get a great look at the soldier’s face, just “the light on his head.” Then, “he just started shooting,” Naim testified, pointing at his own neck, his collarbone, and his shoulder before the interpreter translated: “He shot me right here, and right here, and right here.” The shooter was only a foot or two away from him, Naim said.

“My son told him, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ He didn’t say anything. He just stood right here, shooting at me.”
– Winston Ross, The Daily Beast, Nov. 10, 2012

” ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ ” one witness, a farmer named Haji Naim, said he had shouted to the American soldier, whom he described as wearing a blindingly bright headlamp in a house that, without electricity, was pitch black. The gunman said nothing, Mr. Naim said, and simply kept firing.

“He shot me right here, right here, and right here,” he said, indicating wounds from which he has apparently recovered. – Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 9-10, 2012

It was the middle of the night in southern Afghanistan’s Panjwai district when Haji Naim says he was awakened by the sound of barking dogs and gunshots.

Moments later, a man clothed in U.S. military fatigues and a T-shirt burst through the door of Naim’s home and opened fire, hitting him in the neck, Naim testified early Saturday at a hearing for an Army soldier accused in a mass killing of Afghan civilians.

“I said ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ Naim told the court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington, during a live satellite uplink from a base in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“He didn’t say anything …He just started shooting.”
– Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 10, 2012

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — First, there were dogs barking in the middle of the night. Then, two or three gunshots from the housing compound next door [Nazar Mohammad and his daughter Tora/Toraki were killed at the “housing compound next door” on the east side of Naim’s; Khudaydad was killed at Sayed Jan’s “housing compound next door” on the west side of Naim’s -pow wow]. Haji Mohammed Naim, a farmer from the southern Afghanistan village of Alkozai, awoke with a start.

Then came knocks on the door from terrified neighbors, fleeing what they said was a gunman wearing U.S. military gear.

The gunman wasn’t far behind. All Naim could see was the blinding headlamp strapped around his forehead as he moved over a wall from the compound next door.

“I didn’t recognize him. He was an American. I just saw the light on his head,” Naim testified early Saturday at a military hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murder in a five-hour shooting spree in two Afghan villages in March.

[…]

“I was standing here, and he was standing there,” Naim said, indicating a space as close as the water bottle on the table in front of him. “And he just started shooting me.”

“Did he say anything before he shot you?” a military prosecutor asked.

“I don’t remember, but my son told me that he … heard me talking with him, [saying -pw] ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?'” Naim said. “He didn’t say anything to me. When he came, he stood right here, and he just started shooting at me.”

He forgot most of what happened after that, Naim said, except for one thing: “He shot the children.” – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 10, 2012

In his only English-language media interview – with a New Zealand McClatchy correspondent in May, 2012 – before the June 5, 2013 video above, Haji Mohammad Naim said more:

Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By Jon Stephenson | McClatchy Newspapers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — […]

In the next compound, a short distance from the house where Rafiullah had been sleeping, Haji Mohammad Naim awoke to the sound of dogs barking wildly in the street.

“Then there was shooting, and the dogs stopped barking,” said Naim, who’s in his 50s. Shortly afterward, there was pandemonium at Naim’s front door as Rafiullah and a handful of terrified women and children poured into his yard, seeking shelter. Minutes later, another woman and a young girl emerged from the darkness.

“She was screaming and crying,” Naim said of the woman. “She said, ‘My husband has been martyred,'” meaning that he’d been killed.

Suddenly a silhouette appeared, moving rapidly behind a bright light. Naim thought that U.S. forces were raiding his village, and he expected a squad of soldiers to arrive. Instead, he saw just one man.

“He got closer, and then he started shooting at me,” Naim said.

[…]

The gunfire seemed to come at him in bursts, perhaps as many as 10 shots altogether, Naim recalled, some fired from just feet away.

Two struck him in the upper left side of his chest and one ripped skin from the left side of his jaw. Then everything went black.

The shooter stepped past Naim’s unconscious body and entered his home, confronting Rafiullah and his relatives who’d taken refuge in the main room.

[…]

Help for the wounded eventually arrived, although Rafiullah – like Naim – had fallen unconscious, and was unable later to say how long it took to get there.

[…]

Naim, who said he regained consciousness four days after the attack, also told McClatchy that U.S. investigators had interviewed him in the hospital. But he said their Afghan counterparts hadn’t interviewed him, despite him being one of a handful of adults to survive the shootings.

[…]

The only official contact he’d had since his discharge from the hospital was when he was summoned, still wounded, to Kandahar city and interrogated by an officer from Afghanistan’s much-feared intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.

“That man was a bastard,” Naim said. “He accused me of having laid IEDs” – improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs – “before the massacre to target the American forces.”

QUADRATULLAH – a son of Haji Mohammad Naim & his never-interviewed wife (name unknown)

The boy’s 14-year-old brother, Quadratullah, took the stand next, smiling and curious, until the officer asked him to remember that night, and his face fell. He testified that a woman with most of her clothes ripped off had come running to their house, screaming, “They shot my man! They shot my man!”

Then came the American soldier, shooting indiscriminantly, scattering Quadratullah’s eight brothers and sisters. They yelled at him in Farsi [Pashto? -pw], he said, again and again, “We are children! We are children!” But that did not quell the rampage, said Quadratullah. […]

Quadratullah hopped on his motorcycle, he said, to try to find help for his wounded family members, including his father, shot three times. – Winston Ross, The Daily Beast, Nov. 10, 2012

The other child [Rafiullah, who hid with Sadiqullah -pw] was hit in the thigh and also survived. He is scheduled to testify Saturday night.

As those two [Sadiqullah and his neighbor Rafiullah -pw] were hiding [in the Haji Naim home -pw], Sadiquallah’s older brother, Quadratullah, sought refuge with other children in a different part of the house. When the gunman found them, Quadratullah testified, the children scrambled, yelling “We are children! We are children!” – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 9-10, 2012

Two children of Haji Mohammed Naim woke up early March 11 with a neighbor’s wife screaming “He killed my man.”

A chaotic and violent scene followed, with children screaming and running for cover from an American soldier armed with a rifle mounted with an intimidating flashlight, the brothers Sadiquallah and Quadratullah remembered in testimony piped into Joint Base Lewis-McChord tonight.

They testified at an Army evidence hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 Afghans and wounded six more. One of his alleged victims is known as Nazar Mohamed, the husband of the woman who ran into the brothers’ home wailing on the night of the massacre.

[…]

Quadratullah is a year or so older than Sadiquallah. He escaped injury on March 11, but witnessed a neighbor’s grandmother being shot to death. He also saw at least one of his siblings being wounded.

“We kept saying we are children, we are children,” Quadratullah remembered. “Then he shot, he shot one of the children.”

Quadratullah spoke more confidently than his younger brother. He grabbed a neighbor’s motorcycle after the attack and alerted an older brother about the violence in their father’s home.

The brother, Faizullah, gathered five wounded villagers at the house and took them to a nearby American forward base [FOB Zangabad, reportedly “just over a mile” away from COP Belamby -pow wow] for medical care.

In the morning, Quadratullah found footprints from what he assumed was the American soldier who attacked his home. They led back to an American outpost, he said.

Both boys said they saw one American soldier that night. Quadratullah recognized that the soldier was an American because of his American combat pants and his weapon.

Quadratullah said the American wore only a T-shirt on his torso, which corroborates testimony from U.S. soldiers who apprehended Bales at their outpost. It contradicts statements from two Afghan guards who saw an American walk into the base and an American leave their camp. The Afghan guards said the man wore an armored vest that night. – Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 9-10, 2012

A 14-year-old boy named Quadratullah said he had known the shooter was an American because of the pants he wore. He also said the man had worn a T-shirt, which matches what other witnesses said Sergeant Bales had been wearing when he returned to his base. Quadratullah said he had followed footprints back to the American base after the sun had come up.

Speaking in a matter-of-fact tone but sometimes animatedly gesturing with a finger — creating the image of a pointed gun as a translator communicated his words to the courtroom — Quadratullah described “a grandmother” whose name he did not know. She came running to their house, he said, her clothes having been “ripped off.” A few minutes later, he added, “she was shot and she was dead.” – Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 9-10, 2012

Naim’s 15-year-old son, Quadratullah, wore an embroidered cap as he calmly related through an interpreter the events of the night that has come to be called the Kandahar massacre.

“We were all in one room, and then he came to that room. … All the children were running,” Quadratullah said. I placed most of the kids [aside] and said, ‘We are children! We are children!’ And he shot one of the kids.”

[…]

“How many Americans did you see?” the military prosecutor asked.

“I saw one,” said Quadratullah, holding a single finger up.
– Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 10, 2012

His older brother Quadratullah, who said he was 14, was unscathed in the attack, but said he saw a U.S. soldier shooting other children.

“Yes I saw the American,” he answered a government attorney. “I said ‘We are children, we are children’, and he shot one of the kids,” Quadratullah said, through an interpreter.

“We saw only one American,” he added. – Bill Rigby, Reuters, Nov. 10, 2012

Sadiquallah’s older brother testified the man was wearing military camouflage pants and a T-shirt, and was carrying a rifle with a flashlight.

Neither Naim nor his sons identified Bales as the shooter. – Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 10, 2012

FAIZULLAH – a son of Haji Mohammad Naim & wife (name unknown); lived elsewhere in Alkozai

[Quadratullah] grabbed a neighbor’s motorcycle after the attack and alerted an older brother about the violence in their father’s home.

The brother, Faizullah, gathered five wounded villagers at the house and took them to a nearby American forward base [FOB Zangabad, reportedly “just over a mile” away from COP Belamby -pow wow] for medical care.– Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 9-10, 2012

Sadiquallah’s older brother, Faizullah, testified about rushing to his father’s home to find his father with a gunshot wound to the throat. Faizullah’s sister was also wounded, as were two neighbour siblings. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10, 2012

One older [Naim] son, Faizullah, recalled being awoken by someone telling him there had been a shooting at his father’s compound. He rushed there to find him with a gunshot wound to the throat. One of Naim’s daughters was also wounded, as were two neighbor siblings.

Faizullah said he loaded the wounded into a car, using a blanket to lift some of them. They were treated at a nearby base [FOB Zangabad -pw], then flown to a bigger military hospital in Kandahar [at Kandahar Airfield, southeast of Kandahar city -pw]. All five survived.
– Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10-11, 2012

In connection with that Associated Press statement that “all five [wounded who were treated in U.S./ISAF military hospitals] survived,” note the following three (still unexplained and unreconciled) statements given to the media by U.S. Army spokesmen [5 of the 6 Alkozai wounded victims charged to Bales testified in November after these reports; only never-interviewed teenager Parmina, wounded daughter of Haji Mohammad Naim (and one of the referenced 5 treated at FOB Zangabad), did not testify]:

1.
The day that SSG Bales was first charged (on March 23, 2012) with 17 murders:

KABUL — The U.S. military’s decision to formally charge Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in the killing of 17 Afghan villagers on Friday did nothing to dampen the anger of Mohammed Wazir, who lost 11 family members — including his mother, wife, four daughters and two sons — in the rampage.

[…]

Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, said none of the five people wounded in the shootings has died. He also ruled out the possibility that one of the slain women was pregnant.
– Richard Leiby & Sayed Salahuddin, The Washington Post, March 23, 2012


2.
Three days after SSG Bales was first charged (on March 23, 2012) with 17 murders:

Early in the day, an Afghan police official in Kandahar Province, where the killings took place, said the 17th victim could be accounted for because a pregnant woman was among the dead. But he later retracted that assertion, and American military officials restated that their investigation showed evidence for 17 murder charges.

“At this time, the evidence available to the prosecution team indicates 17 victims of premeditated murder and 6 victims of assault and attempted premeditated murder,” Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings Jr. said by telephone. “There were no wounded who died, and no fetus.”

He continued: “That breaks down to 4 males, 4 females and 9 children were murdered. One male, one woman and 4 children were wounded.” – Rod Nordland, The New York Times, March 26, 2012

3. Just before the SSG Bales Article 32 hearing began in November – five months after a murder count was, without explanation, dropped, and Bales was charged instead (on June 1, 2012) with 16 murders:

The pretrial hearing could include testimony from some of those wounded in the attack.

Of the six wounded, four were treated in coalition medical facilities and released in March and one was released from a coalition facility care in August. Another victim wounded in the attack died while under coalition care, according to Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, deputy public-affairs officer for I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Dangerfield did not comment on whether that death would result in an additional murder charge being filed in the case.

Since this case involves Special Forces, the secrecy surrounding their operations may make it more difficult to ferret out evidence. “I would say it definitely creates another barrier that would not exist otherwise,” said Eric Montalvo, a military trial lawyer. – Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, November 5, 2012

Before turning to the sole witness at the Article 32 hearing (or ever interviewed by the media) from the Haji Nazar Mohammad home (the east-side neighbor of Haji Naim in Alkozai), here’s what Habibullah – another son of Mohammad Naim – said he heard and saw that night, in his only English-language media interview, before being killed by a NATO airstrike in late September, 2012 (according to the reporting of Afghan journalist Mamoon Durrani, and, indirectly, that of other Afghan reporters who interviewed Habibullah’s cousin Abdul Baqi):

Habibullah, a 28-year-old farmer who saw parts of the massacre unfold, was one of those who met [President] Karzai [in Kabul on March 16, 2012; the video is linked here -pow wow]. He told GlobalPost he saw several soldiers in his compound when his father was shot. But he also admits he can’t remember everything that happened.

“My mind is too confused,” he said.

Habibullah tried his best to describe the shooting for GlobalPost. He drew a map of the three houses in his village, Alkozai, where four people were killed. His house was in the middle. He said his wife woke him up early in the morning — he can’t recall the exact time — shouting that American soldiers were at the house next door. Habibullah told her not to worry.

“This is a night raid,” he remembered telling her.

Night raids — surprise attacks by US soldiers on houses they suspect are associated with the Taliban, are common in this volatile region. “The Americans usually pick one house to raid, and then they leave.”

But a few moments later residents from neighboring houses began fleeing to Habibullah’s, telling everyone to hide. The attacker — or attackers — soon followed, he said.

“I didn’t hear a lot of shooting and I didn’t hear helicopters,” Habibullah recalled. But he did see “two or three Americans” enter his compound, “using lights and firing at my father, who was wounded.”– Bette Dam, GlobalPost, March 23, 2012

ROBINA/NOORBINAK – daughter of Haji Nazar Mohammad and wife (“Maryam”? “Shah Babo”?)

One child, 7-year-old Robina, said she saw her father shot to death right in front of her, taking bullets to the neck and chest. She said she hid behind Nazar Mohamed and was shot in the knee herself.

“I didn’t realize I was shot until later,” said the small girl wrapped in a red scarf. The chatty girl said she’s fine now, describing months of recuperation.

[…]

The Afghans testified on the fifth and sixth days of the evidence hearing over a video link that piped their testimony into a Lewis-McChord courtroom from Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. Their testimony came in clearly, with attorneys in both countries interacting with witnesses and interpreters. – Adam Ashton, Tacoma News Tribune, Nov. 11, 2012

10:40 p.m. update: A 7-year-old Afghan girl said she was hiding behind her father in their home when he was shot to death by an American soldier.

[…]

Robina’s father, Nazar Mohammed, was among the dead. She said he was cursing at the American who entered a home belonging to her family that night when the soldier shot her father in the neck and chest.

A bullet struck her in the knee as she hid behind him.

“I didn’t realize I was shot until later,” she said.

Robina said she is fine now. She described several months of recovery in a hospital, and she seemed to walk fine from the tight images of her that appeared in court at Lewis-McChord.

[…]

Both girls were wounded in the village of Alkozai, the first community Bales allegedly attacked on March 11. – Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 10, 2012

Several children who testified via video link from Kandahar said they saw lights around their homes, as if other soldiers were outside. One young girl wounded in Alkozai also said she saw multiple lights that night. But Robina, 7, said “I saw one guy who came inside the home.”– Adam Ashton, The (Tacoma) News Tribune, Nov. 12, 2012

Robina and another child were called to testify by Bales’ attorney, John Henry Brown[e], who appeared to try to establish discrepancies between their testimonies and those of survivors who took the stand a day earlier.

Robina recounted via satellite from a base in Kandahar province how in the early morning hours a gunman came into her family’s compound near Camp Belambay, a small U.S. outpost.

Her father, she said, cursed when he was shot in the legs. Then he was shot in the throat and the chest, she said.

One of the bullets also hit her in the leg.

“I didn’t realize I was shot until later,” she said. – Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 11, 2012

Robina, wearing a deep red scarf and talking animatedly as she folded her fingers together, described how she hid behind her father for protection, only to get hit by a bullet when he was shot.

“My father … was cursing the person as he was coming in the house. Then they shot my father right through the throat and the chest,” she said. “At the same time, the bullet penetrated my body, and hit me in the leg.”

[…]

Robina insisted she had seen “a lot of lights” outside the family compound. “It almost made it like daylight,” she said. “There were too many lights.”
– Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

“I was standing behind my father,” she testified simply, by video feed from Afghanistan Saturday night during a hearing for the soldier accused of killing 16 civilians, including nine children, in Kandahar Province. “He shot my father.”

One of the bullets struck her in the leg, but she didn’t realize it right away, she said.
– Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 11, 2012

There may be an AP courtroom sketch of Robina drawn by Lois Silver (who sketched many of the Afghan and American Article 32 witnesses), but, if so, I have yet to locate it. Such a sketch might make it possible to confirm, one way or the other, whether the “Robina” who testified at the Article 32 hearing is the same girl as “Noorbinak,” who was interviewed by Yalda Hakim for Australian public television’s DatelineSBS program in March, 2012. DatelineSBS did not identify Noorbinak’s village or parents, but in July, 2012, I learned through Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani that Noorbinak is a daughter of Haji Nazar Mohammad. Noorbinak’s eyewitness mother (name unknown, but possibly “Maryam” or “Shah Babo”) has never been interviewed. If Nazar Mohammad is Noorbinak’s father (and Noorbinak’s account to DatelineSBS does closely parallel “Robina’s” Article 32 testimony above), Noorbinak lost not only her father, but also a younger sister (Tora/Toraki) that night – yet neither the Article 32 testimony of Robina nor the SBS interview of Noorbinak mentions that fact. There have been no other media interviews of Noorbinak (and none of a girl named “Robina”) since the DatelineSBS broadcast in March, 2012. No reporting that I’ve seen from the Article 32 hearing – where only those in attendance could see Robina on the monitor and compare her with public footage of Noorbinak – publicly connects Robina with Noorbinak. In fact, it appears that only one journalist at the Article 32 hearing – Adam Ashton – even mentions the name of Robina’s father.

Here’s what “8-year-old Noorbinak” told Yalda Hakim in late March, 2012 (from the SBS transcription of their television broadcast):

REPORTER: Yalda Hakim

MAN (Translation): You know where your father is?

CHILD (Translation): He died.

REPORTER: How did he die?

CHILD (Translation): The Americans.

[…]

NOORBINAK (Translation): He was shooting, he shot my father’s dog first, and then he shot my father in the foot, then he dragged my mother by the hair. My mother was screaming and he held a gun to her and my father said “Leave her alone” and then he shot him right there.

As 8-year-old Noorbinak watched her parents desperately trying to fend off the intruder, he turned his gun on her and shot her in the leg.

NOORBINAK (Translation): One entered the room and the others were standing in the yard, holding lights.

________________________________________________________________

NAJIBAN
(aka Najebyan or Balandi)

(1.25 kilometers south/southwest of Camp Belamby; 11 killed; 0 wounded) ________________________________________________________________

Only one man testified at the Article 32 hearing about the slaughter of the 11 people – Ages 2 to 60 – who were sleeping at the Mohammad Wazir residence in Najiban/Balandi on March 11th. At least one female eyewitness of the attack there – “Palwasha,” as described by Wazir to BusinessWeek/Bloomberg in late March, 2012 – was said to be willing to give testimony in court, but has apparently never been interviewed since [“Palwasha told me that the gunfire woke her about 2:30 in the night, and she came out and saw the light flashes from guns — not one gun, but different guns — at my house,” Wazir said.]. Another witness of the Najiban attack at or near the Wazir home – see the Reuters quotes below – was killed in an auto accident on June 30, 2012, Panjwai family members told Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani in early July. The man who testified at the Article 32 hearing, Khamal Adin, evidently a resident of Kandahar city, did not witness the attack, but was the family member who was called (while Mohammad Wazir was still hours away in Spin Boldak with his sole surviving child) to deal with its gruesome aftermath. To supplement Khamal Adin’s testimony about what he confronted that morning, this is my summary of the translation of a lengthy interview of Haji Mohammad Wazir that was conducted in Kabul in October, 2012 (one month before the sworn Article 32 testimony of Khamal Adin):

Haji Mohammad Wazir was born and was living in his late father’s home in Belamby village – where he and his family were fourth-generation farmers growing grapes, pomegranates, mulberries and wheat – but after Combat Outpost Belamby was established in the village (more than a year before the massacre), Wazir moved his family to Najiban (about 1.25 KM southwest of COP Belamby). Soon, like Wazir, all remaining residents left Belamby village to try to avoid being caught in the crossfire between American and Afghan government forces and the Taliban. Wazir clearly describes in the interview the five rooms in which his family lived in Najiban, and the fifth room (at one end of the home) was the kitchen. Wazir makes clear that 10-11 burning bodies of his family were found by neighbors in the middle room of five, in what was usually the bedroom of his mother, three sons, and nephew (the son of his brother Mohammad Hussain of Spin Boldak, who Wazir and his youngest son Habib Shah were visiting on the night of the attack). The room closest to the main gate was a “guesthouse,” or guestroom/living room, which was not occupied that night. Wazir and his neighbors deduced from the aftermath of the slaughter that, with Wazir away from home, his wife and four daughters moved from the room in which they normally slept with Wazir (the room between his mother’s room and the guestroom), into the room of his mother, where they were all killed and burned. Notably, and contrary to the counts in the June 1 Army Charge Sheet for SSG Bales, Wazir (and neighbors?) seem to believe that Wazir’s mother Shah Tarina was shot at the main gate to the yard, while answering the door (as is the Afghan custom when the male head of household is away), but that her body was afterwards carried into the middle room and set on fire with the others. [The Article 32 testimony of Khamal Adin, however, appears to contradict the theory that Shah Tarina was burned; perhaps Wazir was not told the full details about the condition in which Khamal Adin found Shah Tarina’s body in the main gate entranceway where he testifed he found her?] Wazir’s younger brother Akhtar Mohammad and his wife of one year slept in the room between the kitchen and the middle, mother’s room. Based on evidence the neighbors and Wazir (and Adin, no doubt) found afterwards, Akhtar Mohammad and his wife Nadia were killed in their room, and then they too were carried into the middle room and burned. Also shot that night was a puppy dog in the yard – which survived, unlike the caged bird, visible in photos, kept by Wazir’s wife Bibi Zahra, which succumbed in the smoke from the burning bodies. (See also 2470media’s important, subtitled October, 2012 video interview of Haji Mohammad Wazir.)

KHAMAL ADIN – Cousin of Haji Mohammad Wazir of Najiban (son of a brother of Wazir’s father)

Speaking through an interpreter, one Afghan closed his remarks with the words: “My request is to get justice.”

[…]

Khamal Adin, who had a beard and was wearing a turban, sat at the witness table with his arms folded, his head tilted to the left. He described the carnage at the second village, Najiban.

The morning after the rampage, Adin said he arrived at a compound belonging to his cousin, Mohammed Wazir. Wazir had been away on a trip, and he found Wazir’s mother lying dead in a doorway, a gunshot to her head.

Further inside, Adin said, he found the bodies of six of his cousin’s seven children, the man’s wife, and other relatives. The fire that burned the bodies was out, but he said he could still smell smoke.

When Adin began to testify, Bales moved from his seat to be closer to the courtroom monitor.

Adin was asked if he could say he personally saw the bodies. He answered: “Yes. I have seen each individual and took them out by myself.” Asked to describe the injuries, he said: “Everybody was shot on the head. … I didn’t pay attention to the rest of the wounds.” – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 10, 2012

“Their brains were still on the pillows,” said Mullah Khamal Adin, 39, staring into the camera with his arms folded on the table, describing the 11 members of his cousin’s family he found dead in the family compound — most of the bodies burned in a pile in one room.

Mr. Adin, in a hearing that started here late Friday, was asked about the smell. Was there an odor of gasoline or kerosene?

Just bodies and burned plastic, he replied through a translator.

[…]

Mr. Adin, who was summoned to his cousin’s compound by a telephone call early the next morning, told of boot prints that were on some bodies, including the head of a child who had apparently been shot and stomped or kicked. Mr. Adin talked about a small child who he said appeared to have been “grabbed from her bed and thrown on the fire.” But Mr. Adin never saw the gunman, arriving after the fact.

[…]

Mr. Adin, for instance, was asked whether he believed the clothing had been stripped off or burned off the pile of bodies from his cousin’s family. He answered with a practical, if horrific, observation.

“Nobody was alive to ask whether they were naked before they were burned or killed,” he said.
– Kirk Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 10, 2012

Earlier, Kandahar resident Khamal Adin told of being called early on the morning of the shootings to the home of his cousin, Haji Mohammed Wazir, where 11 people, including most of Wazir’s family, had been shot to death.

He described a grisly scene of bodies, many of them naked, burned in a pile; of women and children who had been shot directly in the head; of Nabiyah, less than 2, who it appeared was not shot. “It seems like she was just brought alive from her bed and put on fire,” Adin testified.

Two of the children, 4-year-old Fareeda, and 3-year-old Palwasha, had boot marks on their faces. “It appears she was kicked, because I saw some shoe mark on her face,” Adin said of Fareeda. The other child, he said, had such marks on both her head and the rest of her body.

The hearing officer thanked him at the conclusion of his testimony, and Adin nodded gravely. “My request is to get justice,” he said.
– Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 10, 2012

A man named Khamal Adin testified that he came to the village from nearby Kandahar City that night after his cousin, who lived there, called him on his cellphone. Adin arrived to his cousin’s house to find bodies, stacked atop one another and smoldering from a fire.

Adin saw his cousin’s mother by the door, he testified.

“She was shot on her head, and the brain was outside,” Adin said, his arms folded, frowning. “I had not seen her other injuries. When I grabbed her, half of her head fell down, with her eyes on the ground.”

The man spoke in generalities, of the stack of bodies he saw, of separating the males and females from the pile and dragging them outside, to be driven to the Army base.

“They were all shot up on the heads,” Adin said. “One woman, her brains were still on the pillow.”

The prosecutor asked him to slow down.

“I’m sorry, but I want to ask you about the bodies, one at a time,” the officer said. “I would like to ask you about the children.”

One by one, Adin described their bodies. Everybody was shot in the head, he said. One was split in two. They were all burned. A 4-year-old was shot in the face, and it looked like she was kicked there, too, he said, “because I saw some foot shoe mark on her face.” A 3-year-old was also shot in the face, he said, also with a shoe print.

Then he talked of the baby, Nadia, who the officer said was between 18 months and 2 years old.

“Did you see her wounds?” the officer asked.

“No, I have not seen her wounds,” Adin said. “It seems like she was just grabbed alive from her bed and thrown on the fire.”

Adin was asked if the bodies were naked, and he said yes. He asked if it appeared that their clothes were removed, or if they had burned off in the fire.

“Nobody was alive that we could ask if the clothes were burned off if they were naked before they were burned,” Adin said.

When he finished testifying, Deneke thanked him, and Adin rose.

“This is my only request,” he said, “to get the justice.” – Winston Ross, The Daily Beast, Nov. 10, 2012

“They were all shot in their heads,” Mullah Khamal Adin said. “Their brains were still on their pillows.”

Khamal is a cousin to Mohammed Wazir, whose home in the village of Najiban was among the compounds Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly attacked.

Mohammed Wazir was not home during the killings. He was traveling in Spin Boldak with one of his sons. Wazir is in Mecca this week and is unlikely to testify. He lost six of his children in the killings.

Khamal gave blunt and chilling testimony as he spoke to attorneys in Kandahar tonight, answering questions from lawyers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in Afghanistan.

“This is my request: To give justice,” he told Army investigating officer Col. Lee Deneke.

Khamal said villagers in Najiban called him on the morning of March 11, the morning of the massacre. He traveled there from the city of Kandahar to find a crowd of people gathered around his cousin’s home.

He said he found the first body in the entrance to the home. It was Shatara, the wife of one of his uncles.

“When I grabbed her, half of her head fell down and her eyes fell on the ground.”

Khamal said he walked into another room, where he found the pile of bodies. They were no longer burning when he got there some time after 7 a.m., but he could smell smoke.

Khamal noticed that some of the youngest victims appeared to have boot marks on their faces. He speculated that 2-year-old Palwasha was thrown on the fire while she was still alive.

Prosecutors had Wazir estimate the ages of the 11 bodies he found in Naijiban. Seven were 15 or younger. Four were younger than 5.

He separated the males from the females in the pile, and then took their bodies to Bales’ combat outpost – Village Stability Platform Belambay. There, villagers from Najiban protested the massacre before burying the bodies.

Defense attorneys were gentle with Khamal. Bales’ lead attorney, John Henry Browne, began his questioning by saying, “I am sorry for your loss.”

Defense attorney Maj. Gregory Malson asked Khamal to describe how many people moved through the Wazir family compound that day. Several were there, and Wazir gave his belongings to the villagers.

Wazir “left everything behind and he has never come to the compound again.” – Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 9-10, 2012

The two newspaper accounts of apparent Najiban witness Agha Lala – not to be confused with the Kandahar Provincial Council member named Agha Lalai, who’s on the right in that screen capture, seated next to Haji Naim’s son Habibullah – follow. Agha Lala was reportedly killed in a car accident on June 30, 2012. These are the only two English-language media interviews of Agha Lala I’ve seen, although Lala was photographed and video-recorded on March 11 inside and outside the room where burned bodies were found at Mohammad Wazir’s; video-recorded while seated in the back row at the March 16, 2012 meeting with President Karzai in Kabul; and video-recorded during Yalda Hakim’s group interview at Kandahar Airfield military hospital in late March, 2012.

The first Reuters account:

By Ahmad Haroon

BELANDAI, Afghanistan | Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:22pm EDT

[…]

Another witness, Agha Lala who is in his 40s, said he was awoken by gunfire at about 2 a.m.

I watched them from a wall for a while. Then they opened fire on me. The bullets hit the wall. They were laughing. They did not seem normal. It was like they were drunk,” he said.

After rushing to his home and hiding all night, Lala, who is no relation to Jan Agha, went to check on the neighbors.

“It was a slaughter. The bullet-riddled bodies were all over the room and it seemed they were burned with curtains and blankets that were torched,” he said.

“Is this what the Americans call an assistance force? They are beasts and have no humanity. The Taliban are much better than them.”

Blood was splattered in one house in the village and there were bullet holes in the walls.

The second Reuters account published later the same day:

By Ahmad Nadem and Ahmad Haroon

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan | Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:19pm EDT

The walls of the [Mohammad Wazir] house were blood-splattered.

“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” [Abdul] Samad [Wazir’s uncle] told Reuters at the scene.

Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.

“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place.

“Their (the victims’) bodies were riddled with bullets.”

________________________________________________________________

DAWOOD HOME

(0.75 KM south of COP Belamby & .50 KM northeast of Wazir’s home; 1 killed; 0 wounded) ________________________________________________________________

At the isolated home of Mohammad Dawood – located .50 KM northeast of the Mohammad Wazir home, and .75 KM south of COP Belamby – six childen were apparently sleeping together in one room with their parents (Mohammad Dawood and his wife Massouma) on the night of March 11th. (A November, 2012 media account said the Dawood home had 11 rooms; a May, 2013 account said it had 2 rooms. Two March 11, 2012 photographs – 1, 2 – evidently show the Dawood home, and reveal some of the other family members and neighbors who were present.) The oldest Dawood boy – Hekmatullah “Khan” Gul, about Age 10 – was the only eyewitness from that home to testify at the Article 32 hearing. But the eyewitness account of Hekmatullah’s mother Massouma was indirectly conveyed to the Article 32 hearing, through the testimony of an Army investigator named Leona Mansapit. Massouma had been interviewed in June by the U.S. Army and her private account to the Army, as conveyed by Mansapit in November at the request of the defense, matched the three public interviews Massouma gave before November, 2012, as well as the testimony in November of her son Hekmatullah. Here’s part of the account that Hekmatullah gave in his 2470media video interview in Kabul, a month before he testified at the Article 32 hearing:

My father is Mohammad Dawood
One person was in front of the door,
One person came inside.
When he came in,
first he stepped on me,
then he stumbled over my brother.
He pulled my father out of his bed.
My mother ran after him.
Then he shot my father in front of the room,
and closed the curtains.
He said “Don’t come out or I’ll shoot you.”
Outside, there was bright light.
My father said only “Fazal ka” – have mercy,
when the man pulled him by his arm.

[…]

That night there were helicopters flying above us,
and there were lights outside.
In that night it was so bright in the yard,
as if it were noon.
Hekmatullah “Khan” Gul, October, 2012

But someone else at that November hearing contradicted Massouma and Hekmatullah – for the first time since the massacre – as to the number of soldiers seen at the Dawood home (that is – not just as to the number who came inside, but as to the number of soldiers both inside and outside the home). That someone else was non-eyewitness Haji Baran (aka Mullah Barraan, Baran Akhon, Nabaryan) of Kandahar city, the cousin and brother-in-law of Massouma, and a brother of Mohammad Dawood. Haji Baran is repeatedly recorded on video (more frequently than Massouma) giving the same version of events as Massouma – until the Article 32 hearing in November, 2012, where Baran testified but Massouma did not, for disputed reasons:

Army officials said Dawood did not testify because of “cultural differences,” and the reluctance of Afghan families to allow a woman to testify in an American courtroom, even by remote video from Afghanistan. But sources in Afghanistan have told the Los Angeles Times that Dawood was, in fact, willing to testify. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14, 2012

No media interview of Haji Baran subsequent to the Article 32 hearing was conducted (although repeated efforts were made by a few to speak to him and/or to Massouma) until Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press traveled to Kandahar city in mid-April and succeeded in obtaining a four-hour interview with Massouma, in the presence of Haji Baran. Gannon’s interview – published May 16, 2013 – confirmed for the first time that Haji Baran had indeed changed his months-long story, and, as of Gannon’s April, 2013, interview, Massouma’s year-long eyewitness account as well, with regard to the number of soldiers present at her home on the night that she saw her husband killed.

Again I’ll let these accounts speak for themselves; collected together below – in chronological order – are all the accounts I’ve seen about the murder in the Mohammad Dawood home.

From Mamoon Durrani reporting for Agence France-Presse, March 11, 2012:

“May God kill the only son of Karzai, so he feels what we feel.”

Name UnknownMother of Dawood’s wife Massouma, and Aunt of Dawood; grandmother of their six children

From a translation by Lela Ahmadzai of 2470media (correcting an erroneous Agence France-Presse translation of 16 seconds of footage filmed by Mamoon Durrani on March 11, 2012):

The murdered man [Mohammad Dawood] is my son-in-law and nephew [she used the non-specific Pashto word “lala” for Dawood; exact relationship confirmed by her nephew Haji Mullah Barraan, via Mamoon Durrani]. It happened last night, right here [she gestured toward the bloodstained rug on the floor]. The child [apparently meaning her 6-month-old grandson Hazratullah, seen here in his mother’s arms]: he held the gun in his mouth; pulled the woman’s hair [apparently meaning her daughter Massouma, Dawood’s wife]. He beat her head against the wall. I saw only one person. May I be blinded if I lie. I saw only one person.
(16 seconds in a 1:00 video uploaded March 12) Name Unknown – Mother of Dawood’s wife Massouma, and Aunt of Dawood; grandmother of their six children

10 seconds in a March 12, 2012 BBC video:

“I saw one man. I can’t lie. I didn’t see another. There was one man and he dragged a woman by her hair, and banged her head repeatedly against the wall. She didn’t say a word.” Name Unknown – Mother of Dawood’s wife Massouma, and Aunt of Dawood; grandmother of their six children

11 seconds in a March 13, 2012 CNN video:

“One guy came in and pulled [Mohammad Dawood] from his sleep and he shot him in this doorway. Then they came back inside the room and put a gun in the mouth of another child and stomped on another boy.” Name Unknown – Mother of Dawood’s wife Massouma, and Aunt of Dawood; grandmother of their six children

Haji Baran’s comments to President Karzai in Kabul, on Friday, March 16, 2012, as partly translated by Afghan journalist Mujib Mashal for a March 18th Al Jazeera article:

Brother of victim Mohamed Dawood [Mullah Baraan/Baran Akhon]: My brother, who the Americans martyred, we had left him behind to take care of our plot of land, irrigate it. For God’s sake, think about it: he has six children.

[…]

He was lying down with his children, it was two or three in the morning. … [The foreigner who speaks English] brings [Mohammad Dawood] to the door, where another holds a gun to [Dawood] and says “Taliban!” Where were Taliban there? This area was near the American base. … When my brother’s wife recounts the story… she says the Americans came and took him by the left hand and said ‘Taliban Taliban’. Another comes and hits him in the head with a gun. I filled a pot with his brains. Another American goes and holds a gun to his six-month-old son, Hazratullah. And she pleads him in God’s name… She asks him in God’s name, and he slaps her away.

[…]

[Mohammad Dawood’s] brother [Mullah Baraan/Baran Akhon]:
When he [the US soldier] hits her [Massouma, Dawood’s wife] with a slap and she pleads him in God’s name, half of [Mohammad Dawood’s] body is lying inside, martyred, half of his body outside, martyred. She gets up and she is forced back to her place and she carries out the Islamic ritual for the dead and she lights the lamp and the place is full of Americans, who raised their voices that it was one American – and that, too, he was insane? […]

Then my sister-in-law got up and performed the rituals for my martyred brother Mohamed Dawood until the morning. For God’s sake, you think about it for a second: until the morning, the woman is sitting with the martyr lying in front of her. Then I get a call in the morning, and in what condition I make my way there? – Haji Mullah Baran, cousin and brother-in-law of Dawood widow Massouma

From a March 19, 2012 CNN report:

Ali Ahmad, one of the villagers, holds a blood-stained pillow in his home, then goes to his neighbor’s home and shows blood splatter on a wall as he describes what he remembers.

“It was around 3 at night that they entered the room. They took my uncle [Haji Mohammad Dawood -pw] out of the room and shot him after asking him, ‘Where is the Taliban?’

“My uncle replied that he didn’t know,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad used “they” but did not say more than one soldier was in his home. [Adds CNN, inexplicably – confusing rather than clarifying their translation of Ahmad’s words, which seem to belie this statement. -pow wow]

[…]

Most of the villagers say they do not believe the U.S. version of events, but accounts from eyewitnesses conflict.

One of the young [Dawood -pw] boys [Hekmatullah Gul -pw] who were there recounted it this way:

“He said, “Hello, hello Taliban, Taliban. We told him there is no Taliban here, but he broke the cupboards.” He added, “He was an American.”

Another boy [Hekmatullah’s younger brother Nasibullah -pw] chimes in: “It was just one person.”

And although some adults in the village said they have evidence more than one soldier was involved, none has said that more than one soldier was firing a weapon.

“They went through the field of wheat and there were the footprints of no less than 15 people. There were signs of knee prints as well.” Ahmad said. Toor Jan aka Ali Ahmad – Brother of Haji Mohammad Dawood (from south of COP Belamby) & Haji Mullah Baran (of Kandahar city)

March 22, 2012 in the Wall Street Journal:

“The only people who have remained are those who couldn’t afford the expense of moving their families to the city,” says Mullah Baran [Akhon -pw], a 38-year-old whose brother, Mohammad Dawood, was the first [Balandi/Najiban? -pw] victim of the March 11 rampage, according to witnesses to the shooting, and other villagers. “The Americans said they came here to bring peace and security, but the opposite happened. Now, this village is a nest of ghosts.”

Mr. Baran, who says he had to scrape his brother’s brain and pieces of skull from the floor of their home, lost only one relative. His brother’s wife started screaming at the intruder, he says, and the gunman spared her and her six children.

March 23, 2012 in GlobalPost:

[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai also spoke to Mullah Baran [Akhon -pw]. Baran’s brother [Mohammad Dawood -pw] was killed in the shooting spree, but he [Baran Akhon -pw] didn’t see the shooting happen. Baran said he told Karzai what his sister-in-law [Dawood’s widow -pw], who was at the scene, had told him.

When GlobalPost asked Baran to speak directly with his sister-in-law [Dawood’s widow -pw], he initially refused.

“You don’t need to talk her,” Baran said. “I did, and I can tell you the story.”

Eventually Baran relented, allowing GlobalPost to interview her [Dawood’s widow -pw] by phone.

Massouma [widow of Mohammad Dawood -pw], who lives in the neighboring village of Najiban, where 12 people were killed, said she heard helicopters fly overhead as a uniformed soldier entered her home. She said he flashed a “big, white light,” and yelled, “Taliban! Taliban! Taliban!”

Massouma said the soldier shouted “walkie-talkie, walkie-talkie.” The rules of engagement in hostile areas in Afghanistan permit US soldiers to shoot Afghans holding walkie-talkies because they could be Taliban spotters.

“He had a radio antenna on his shoulder. He had a walkie-talkie himself, and he was speaking into it,” she said.

After the soldier with the walkie-talkie killed her husband, she said he lingered in the doorway of her home.

“While he stood there, I secretly looked through the curtains and saw at least 20 Americans, with heavy weapons, searching all the rooms in our compound, as well as my bathroom,” she said.

After they completed their search, the men left, Massouma said. She said that all seven of her children [there are actually six Dawood children, including an infant -pw] saw the attackers, but she refused to let GlobalPost speak with them.

An Afghan journalist who went to Massouma’s home in the days after the shooting and spoke with one of her sons, aged seven, said the boy told him he looked through the curtains and saw a number of soldiers — although he couldn’t say how many.

March 24, 2012 in The Associated Press:

Baran Akhon, whose brother Mohammad Dawood was also killed in Balandi, said he’s not sure how he is going to support his brother’s family. He has brought all of them to live with him in Kandahar city, but he barely makes enough selling cigarettes and other small items from his pushcart to support his own family.

From Haji Baran’s interview with Yalda Hakim for DatelineSBS, aired March 27, 2012:

MULLAH BARRAAN [aka Baran Ahkon, brother of Mohammad Dawood -pw] (Transcript/Translation): The Americans left the room, my brother’s children say they saw in the yard many Americans with lights on their heads and they had lights at the ends of their guns as well. They don’t know whether there were 15 or 20, or however many there were.

Haji Mullah Baran – brother of Haji Mohammad Dawood & cousin of Dawood’s wife Massouma

From the same March 27, 2012 DatelineSBS television interview:

[Yalda Hakim:] I travelled back to the city of Kandahar, where I want to speak to one more survivor – Aminea – not her real name – now lives here [in Dawood’s brother’s home -pw] with her six children in a mud hut with no electricity.

AMINEA [Dawood’s widow -pw] (Translation): As I was dragging him [Mohammad Dawood -pw] to the house, his brain fell into my hand and I put it into a clean handkerchief. There was so much blood – as if three sheep had been slaughtered.

Of all the stories I heard on this trip, hers was the most wrenching account of how the killings have changed this country. And how Afghan people now fear the soldiers who had promised to help them and protect them.

AMINEA [Dawood’s widow -pw] (Translation): I had no feeling other than… if I could lay my hands on them, if I could lay my hands on those infidels, I would rip them apart with my bare hands.

(See also Yalda Hakim’s further description of what “Aminea” told her, here.)

From a July 4, 2012 interview on Press TV (a state-run Iranian outlet) by Fayez Khorshid (the translation has some errors; those errors are excluded from this excerpt):

Mullah Baran is another victim of this attack. It was not one person who did this. Other U.S forces were guarding outside our homes during the shooting, Baran said.

From an October 28-29, 2012 The Daily Beast/Newsweek article posted by Raymond Bonner a week before the Article 32 hearing got underway (Bonner’s article mistakenly states that Dawood’s six children were also murdered, and included in the murder charges against Bales; those errors are excluded from this excerpt):

“Two Americans came into the room, and the kids started screaming,” said Bibi Massoma, whose husband, Mohammed Dawood, [was] murdered. The men entered around 3 a.m. One of the soldiers grabbed her husband and forced him to stand in the doorway, she said; a second soldier shot him. His brains were scattered in the doorway. Massoma later gathered them in a plastic bag. One of the soldiers stuck a pistol into the mouth of six-month-old Hazaratullah, put his finger to his lips and said if the child did not stop crying he would kill all of them [].

On the eve of the Article 32 hearing in November, the Los Angeles Times printed the first English-language media interview of Hekmatullah “Khan” Gul since the brief March 19, 2012 CNN footage quoted above. The interview from which Hekmatullah’s comments were drawn for this article was conducted in Kabul in early October, 2012, and, as Article 32 reporting by the same paper a week later demonstrates (see below), at least one significant October statement made to the Los Angeles Times by Hekmatullah Gul did not make it into this account:

November 04, 2012|By Kim Murphy and Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times

He was muttering “Taliban, Taliban” as he pulled Daoud [Mohammad Dawood -pw] out of his bed, said Daoud’s 10-year-old son, Hikmatullah Gul, who hid under a blanket.

He said his father was calling “Have mercy!” before he was shot. “There was so much blood from my father,” he said. “But the American came again and tore everything apart. Broke windows. Threw a closet to the floor…. The whole house cried.”

Both youths [Mohammad Dawood’s son Hekmatullah Gul, from south of COP Belamby, and Rafiullah, from north of COP Belamby -pw] described seeing bright lights outside the houses during the attacks.

From a CBS News television interview aired the night before Afghan Article 32 testimony began (Cobiella’s account mistakenly states that Dawood’s youngest child Hazratullah – Haji Baran’s 6-month-old nephew – was also murdered; that error is excluded from this excerpt):

November 8, 2012 7:34 PM

Afghans recall massacre horror ahead of soldier’s trial

By Kelly Cobiella

Another villager, Nabaryan [Haji Baran -pw], told us his brother [Mohammad Dawood -pw] had been killed. His brother’s wife survived — and he said she’d seen more than one gunman.

“She told me they had lights on their heads,” he said in [Pashto -pw]. “They were searching the house, and they told her to be quiet or they’d kill her, too.”

From a November 11, 2012 article, by Ali M Latifi and Abdullah Shahood for Al Jazeera, published as Afghans were testifying at the Article 32 hearing:

Kandahar, Afghanistan – Having just completed his dawn prayer, Mullah Baran was rolling up his prayer mat when he received the phone call: “The Americans came last night,” a voice on the other end told him.

“They raided your house and martyred your brother.”

[…]

Initially, “they wouldn’t even admit to us it was their man”, Baran says of the US forces.

When he returned to his 11-room house the following morning, Baran was confronted with the physical and emotional evidence: broken cupboards and doorways, bullet holes from the gunfire that had awoken his youngest nephew asleep in his crib.

The Article 32 testimony about the murder of Mohammad Dawood follows (Army CIC special agent Leona Mansapit was apparently the first witness of the evening on Saturday, November 10, while witness Hekmatullah “Khan” Gul and non-witness Haji Baran were apparently the last of the Afghan family members to testify, late Saturday/early Sunday):

LEONA MANSAPIT – U.S. Army criminal investigator; interviewed M. Dawood widow Massouma

Army criminal investigations agent Leona Mansapit testified that Dawud’s wife, Masuma, told her that two U.S. soldiers had entered her home. One led her husband out the door. As she tried to follow, another pushed her back and then grabbed on to her husband.

“The other soldier had a pistol to his head, and pulled the trigger and shot him,” Mansapit said she was told by the widow, who so far has not testified, reportedly because of reluctance on the part of conservative male family members to allow Afghan women to participate in the proceedings.

“She mentioned that she heard other Americans speaking English among themselves, like they were searching other rooms in the compound,” Mansapit added.

Asked by co-defense counsel Emma Scanlan if she had any reason to doubt Dawud’s account, Mansapit said no. “I wasn’t questioning her credibility, or anything like that.” – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

On Saturday, a U.S. investigator told the hearing that the wife of one of the victims told her during questioning in June that she saw more than one soldier on the night in question.

Army criminal investigator Leona Mansapit said the wife of Mohamed Dawood, who was killed in the village of Najiban, recalled a gunman entering the couple’s room shouting about the Taliban, while another man, a U.S. soldier, stood at the door.

This woman was persuaded by male family members not to testify to the hearing, an Army source, who asked not to be named, said on Sunday. – Laura L. Myers, Reuters, Nov. 12, 2012

[Defense attorney John Henry] Brown[e] also questioned the testimony of an Army criminal investigator, who interviewed a victim’s wife, who said two American soldiers broke into her home during the rampage. – Chuck Conder, CNN, Nov. 11, 2012

Tonight, the defense called a Criminal Investigation Command agent who interviewed the wife of a man killed in Najiban on March 11. The widow reported seeing two Americans enter her room, take her husband Mohammed Dawood outside and execute him with a pistol to his head.

The widow told 1st Agent Leona Mansapit that she overheard multiple Americans speaking English in the compounds [yard? -pw] around her home. The widow also reported hearing helicopters overhead and seeing multiple flares shot in the sky.

No Americans have testified about hearing helicopters on the night of the killings. Several said they shot flares, either to investigate gunfire they heard [toward Alkozai, north of COP Belamby, before 2:00 AM -pw] or to look for Bales when they realized he was missing [starting at about 3:30 AM, after a roll-call -pw]. – Adam Ashton, The News Tribune blog, Nov. 10, 2012

Better evidence could come from Masooma, the widow of a man killed in Najiban. She told an Army Criminal Investigative Command agent in June that she saw two American soldiers enter her home, shout about the Taliban, take her husband Mohammed Dawood outside and execute him with a pistol to his head.

Mohammed Dawood’s widow told 1st Agent Leona Mansapit that she overheard multiple Americans speaking English in the compounds around her home. The widow also reported hearing helicopters overhead and seeing multiple flares shot in the sky.

Mansapit, who presented Masooma’s version of events in court Sunday, said she had no reason to doubt the credibility of the widow.

No other witnesses in the past week of testimony have described helicopters near Najiban that night. Several American soldiers have said they shot flares called illumination rounds in the sky when they heard gunfire about 1:30 a.m. on March 11 and again about 3:30 a.m. when they realized Bales was missing.

[…]

Masooma did not testify at Bales’ evidence hearing. Her family does not want her to testify because she is a woman, a Lewis-McChord official said.

“We’re still trying to bridge that gap,” the official said. – Adam Ashton, McClatchy/The News Tribune, Nov. 12, 2012

One Army Criminal Investigations Command special agent testified that several months after the massacre, she took a statement from one woman whose husband was killed. The woman reported that there were two soldiers in her room — one took her husband out of the room and shot him, and the other held her back when she tried to follow. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 11, 2012

Criminal Investigation Command special agent Leona Mansapit testifies that months after the killings, she was able to interview the wife of one of the victims. The woman clearly recounted having seen two U.S. soldiers in her room, and said one took her husband from the room and shot him as the other held her back, Mansapit recalls. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 12, 2012

During testimony, a special agent testified that months after the killings, she was able to interview the wife of one of the victims, who recounted having seen two U.S. soldiers. Later, however, the woman’s brother-in-law, Mullah Baraan, who was not present at the shootings, testified that the woman says there was only one shooter. The woman herself did not testify. – Rachel La Corte, The Associated Press, Nov. 13, 2012

TACOMA, Wash., Nov 10 (Reuters) – The wife of an Afghan villager killed in a rampage blamed on a decorated U.S. officer told an Army investigator that more than one soldier was present when her husband was shot dead at their home in March, the investigator testified on Saturday.

[…]

The wife’s account, relayed by Army criminal investigator Leona Mansapit, appeared to cast doubt on the government’s case that Bales alone was responsible for the deaths, although survivors have so far testified to seeing only a single soldier.

[…]

Mansapit said that the wife of Mohamed Dawood, who was killed in the village of Najiban, recalled a gunman entering the couple’s room shouting about the Taliban, while another man, a U.S. soldier, stood at the door.

[…]

Mansapit said the wife, who spoke to her through an interpreter, said one of the men pulled her husband out of the door, while the other stopped her from following. One of the men then put a gun to her husband’s head and killed him, while the other continued to yell about the Taliban, grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head against the wall, she said.

Mansapit, who was called by the defense, recalled the woman as saying that outside there were more soldiers “speaking English among themselves“. She put the woman’s age at about 25 but did not name her. It was not immediately clear whether the wife would testify to the hearing herself. – Bill Rigby, Reuters, Nov. 10-11, 2012

HEKMATULLAH “KHAN” GUL – Oldest of six children of Massouma and Mohammad Dawood

Another witness was a young boy named Khan, dressed in black shirt and a traditional white cap who appeared to be several years older than Zardana, who watched his father being killed that night. Agence France-Presse, Nov. 12, 2012

In an earlier [October -pw] interview with the Los Angeles Times, Hikmatullah Gul, who usually goes by “Khan,” said two U.S. soldiers were in the room where his father, Mohammad Dawud, was killed in front of his family.

“One held my father, and one shot him,” he said in that interview.

On the witness stand Saturday, Khan didn’t repeat that assertion but did say he saw something outside. “There was light outside and there were soldiers,” he said. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

[NO other media accounts of Hekmatullah’s Article 32 testimony..?]

Haji MULLAH BARAN – Brother of Mohammad Dawood, and cousin of Dawood’s widow Massouma

Masooma did not testify at Bales’ evidence hearing.

[…]

Instead, [Masooma’s] brother-in-law, Mullah Baraan, spoke for her. He insisted that she told him only one soldier attacked her home.

“I talked to my brother’s wife and I had her tell me exactly what happened,” he said.

Bales’ defense attorney, John Henry Browne, asked if Baraan had received a $50,000 payment from the U.S. government. Baraan confirmed that he had, to take care of the children, he said. That’s the sum the U.S. has given to relatives of each of Bales’ alleged victims. – Adam Ashton, McClatchy/The News Tribune, Nov. 12, 2012

But then Mohammad Dawud’s brother, Mullah Baraan, said he double checked with Masuma shortly before the hearing and concluded that her initial report to investigators that she had seen two U.S. soldiers in the house was “a mistake.”

“Right now, I’m saying only one person,” Baraan testified. – Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012

The woman clearly recounted having seen two U.S. soldiers in her room, and said one took her husband from the room and shot him as the other held her back, Mansapit recalls. Later, however, the woman’s brother-in-law, Mullah Baraan, who was not present at the shootings, testifies that the woman says there was only one shooter. The woman herself has not testified. – Gene Johnson, The Associated Press, Nov. 12, 2012

During testimony, a special agent testified that months after the killings, she was able to interview the wife of one of the victims, who recounted having seen two U.S. soldiers. Later, however, the woman’s brother-in-law, Mullah Baraan, who was not present at the shootings, testified that the woman says there was only one shooter. The woman herself did not testify. – Rachel La Corte, The Associated Press, Nov. 13, 2012

On November 11, 2012 (after Haji Baran had unexpectedly contradicted all of his previous accounts about the number of soldiers seen at the Dawood home, with his testimony at the Article 32 hearing), the Los Angeles Times reported that they’d also interviewed Baran [in Kabul in early October] before the Article 32 hearing began:

November 11, 2012|By Kim Murphy

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — […]

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, [Mullah] Baraan said villagers simply find it hard to believe that Bales could have carried out two separate attacks over a five-hour period without anyone at Camp Belambay being aware of it.

“They say it is only one person. We think this is crazy.… They never go around alone. Never, ever a soldier goes by himself, unless they have a helicopter, they don’t go out … because they are scared,” Baraan said.

He said villagers also will be skeptical of any attempt by Bales’ defense to claim he was mentally incapacitated.

“If someone is crazy, he would shoot the people at the gate. But he passes everybody, and goes to shoot these people [in the villages] he maybe met once before, and shoots them one by one? Why didn’t he shoot the soldiers on the way? Why didn’t he shoot his friends if he was so crazy? This is our question,” he said. “We aren’t stupid. We can count. They want to pin it on a crazy guy.”

In April, 2013, five months after the Article 32 hearing at which part of Massouma’s consistent eyewitness account about the murder of her husband was seemingly changed, via the testimony of her non-witness brother-in-law Haji Mullah Baran, the Associated Press conducted a four-hour interview of Massouma, in the presence of Haji Baran, at Baran’s Kandahar city home – the first media interview of Massouma (or Haji Baran) recounting the attack since Baran’s November, 2012 testimony:

By KATHY GANNON — May. 16 [2013] 2:39 PM EDT

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — […] Hidden from view, [Masooma’s] words burst forth as she told her side of what happened to her family sometime before dawn on March 11, 2012.

According to Masooma, an American soldier wearing a helmet equipped with a flashlight burst into her two-room mud home while everyone slept. […]

“We were asleep. He came in and he was shouting, saying something about Taliban, Taliban, and then he pulled my husband up. I screamed and screamed and said, ‘We are not Taliban, we are not government. We are no one. Please don’t hurt us,'” she said.

The soldier wasn’t listening. He pointed his pistol at Masooma to quiet her and pushed her husband into the living room.

“My husband just looked back at me and said, ‘I will be back.'” Seconds later she heard gunshots, she recalled, her voice cracking as she was momentarily unable to speak. Her husband was dead.

[…]

Masooma said that the soldier returned to the family’s bedroom after killing her husband. She stood in terror. Her children hid under their blankets. The soldier moved slowly and seemed angry. Gesturing to show how he hit her in the arms and shoved her to the ground, Masooma said he then moved toward her son Hikmatullah, then 7.

Her son said he remembers the sight of the attacker in full military uniform. “I was so afraid. I pretended I was asleep,” he said.

[…]

She said the soldier then found her 2-year-old daughter, Shahara. He grabbed her pigtails and violently shook her head back and forth.

He then went to the crying baby Hazratullah and shoved the muzzle of his black pistol into the infant’s mouth, she said.

“He just held it there in his mouth. I screamed and screamed, ‘He is just a baby. Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him.’ But he just kept the gun in his mouth. He didn’t say anything. He just stared at him,” she recalled.

[…]

After some time, she said, the soldier took the gun from the baby’s mouth and walked back into the living room. Masooma dug her bare foot into the dirt to demonstrate how the soldier slipped his foot beneath her husband’s head to lift it from the floor, as if to be sure he was really dead. The soldier looked down at her husband, shrugged his shoulders and returned to searching her home. After he finished rifling through their belongings, he left.

[…]

For example, Masooma gave [a] telephone interview to a reporter [Bette Dam of GlobalPost -pw] days after the attack, with Baraan, her brother-in-law, acting as a translator. According to the resulting story, she described a single attacker in her home, but said she saw many soldiers outside.

Three months later, her family allowed a female Army investigator to question her. The investigator testified at a hearing last fall that Masooma clearly stated two soldiers carried out the attack. The investigator said she had no reason to doubt Masooma’s credibility.

At the same hearing, Baraan testified, insisting Masooma was mistaken when she said there were two soldiers. Lawyers for the soldier accused in the killings suggested Baraan might be influencing Masooma — especially since the defense was not allowed to speak with her.

[…]

In the interview with the AP, Masooma did not waver in her insistence that one soldier attacked her home [south of COP Belamby -pw], and Baraan denied that she ever reported seeing many soldiers outside. Masooma did recall flares lighting the sky until “night seemed like day” — which is consistent with testimony from the hearing, as guards said they fired a flare that illuminated the sky for 20 seconds after hearing gunshots [1-2 hours earlier, during the half-hour attack on Alkozai, north of COP Belamby -pw]. Masooma also said she heard helicopters overhead; there was no corroborating testimony at the hearing.

Masooma is absolutely certain of one thing: what it will take for her to find closure.

“I just want to see him killed,” she said of Bales. “I want to see him dead. Then I can let go.”

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