Moral Low Ground

War & Peace

U.S. Army ‘Kill Team’ Leader Calvin Gibbs Found Guilty of Murdering Innocent Afghans

An American soldier has been found guilty of murdering innocent Afghan civilians for sport and keeping their body parts as souvenirs.

According to the BBC, Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, age 26, has been convicted of three counts of premeditated murder for his role in leading a “kill team” of rogue soldiers in Afghanistan. Gibbs was sentenced to life imprisonment for 15 convictions related to the murders.

Gibbs, newly arrived at a forward operating base in Kandahar province early in 2010, had previously served in Iraq where he boasted about how easy it was to get away with “stuff.” He hatched a bloody plan that he pitched to his fellow soldiers in the 5th Stryker Brigade:  killing innocent Afghan civilians just for the fun of it. Some of his new buddies were game. They formed a “kill team” that went on a ghastly murder spree in the winter and spring of 2010, blowing up innocent civilians with grenades or shooting them to death. The soldiers collected body parts of their kills as trophies; Gibbs was fond of fingers, while Specialist Michael Wagnon cut off a victim’s head and kept his skull.

“Kill team” members also thought up plans to toss candy to village children and then mow them down with automatic weapons as they rushed to retrieve the treats.

The father of one of the soldiers charged in the killings warned the Army of their murderous plans, but nothing was done to stop them.

It wasn’t long before the horrific truth about the “kill team” got out. Earlier this year, Rolling Stone, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, Moral Low Ground and others published shocking photographs of “kill team” members posing with the mutilated bodies of its victims. In March, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, a team member, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for “acts of unspeakable cruelty”– three counts of murder and one count each of conspiracy, illegal drug use, and obstructing justice. Morlock testified against Gibbs, explaining how he employed “drop weapons”– AK 47s placed near victims to make them appear to be insurgents.

As for the grisly souvenirs, Gibbs testified that he kept fingers from his victims because he was “disassociated” during the stress of combat. Saving body parts as trophies was “like keeping the antlers off a deer you’d shoot,” he explained.

Gibbs’ defense attempted to blame three “kill team” members who pleaded guilty for the murders, but after just four hours of deliberation, the five-person jury handed down its verdict.

Despite the “life” sentence, Gibbs could be released in as few as nine years.

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