Sgt. Hassan Akhbar convicted & sentenced to death: Murdered fellow soldiers because 'he was concerned they would kill Muslims in Iraq'
Carried out attack with 'cool mind' to 'acheive maximum carnage' - father portrays his son as the victim
Sgt. Hasan Akbar, left, is led out under tight security at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Grenade Attack Soldier Convicted of Murdering U.S. Army Comrades
Hasan Akbar, 33, now faces a possible death penalty, which the 15-member jury will consider at a hearing that begins Monday.
Prosecutors at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said Akbar told investigators he launched the attack because he was concerned US troops would kill fellow Muslims in Iraq.
They said he coolly carried out the attack to achieve "maximum carnage".
The verdict followed seven days of testimony in a court-martial – the first time since the Vietnam era that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime.
US soldier guilty of camp murders
Posted on: Thursday, April 21st 2005
MIM: Instead of expressing remorse or sympathy for the family of the victims, Akhbar's father has embarked on a media campaign to portray his son as the victim .
Father of Accused Soldier wants probe
By ESTES THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - The father of an Army sergeant accused of killing two officers at the start of the Iraq war urged the military Wednesday to investigate religious and racial harassment he said his son faced from fellow soliders before he unleashed the grenade and rifle attack.
John Akbar's statement to The Associated Press titled "Concerned Father Seeks Justice For Loved Son" came as testimony wrapped up in Sgt. Hasan Akbar's court-martial on murder charges that carry a possible death penalty.
Jurors were to return Thursday for closing arguments and the start of deliberations.
The elder Akbar said his son had complained to superiors about threats, slurs and taunts he faced as the only black and Muslim in his platoon, but little was done before the March 2003 attack, which also wounded 14.
Akbar's father said his son was placed in platoon with "individuals tattooed with Nazi, KKK and Confederate Flag symbols."
"They would mock him while he prayed and say, 'Look at you kissing the ground for your god and praying five times a day. ... You act like them, pray like them, and look like them, so we might just mistake you for one of them."'
Lt. Col. Ed Loomis, spokesman for the 101st at Fort Campbell, Ky., said there was no investigation of incidents described in the father's statement beyond what was happening in the court-martial. He said the division doesn't tolerate extremist behavior.
Akbar allegedly confessed several times to tossing grenades into the tents of sleeping soldiers and then raking them with rifle fire.
Akbar's lawyers don't dispute his responsibility but are trying to spare him a possible death sentence by portraying him as mentally incapable of premeditating the attack.
The statement from Akbar's father is similar to entries from Hasan Akbar's diary that were introduced by the prosecution to show how he had planned the attack.
"I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me," Akbar wrote more than a month before.
"I am not going to do anything about it as long as I stay here. But as soon as I am in Iraq, I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible," he wrote.
According to testimony in the court-martial, Akbar was asked at least twice by officers if he had problems with going into Iraq because he is Muslim and Akbar said he didn't.
The father also said Akbar graduated first in his class from a Los Angeles high school with a dropout rate of 85 percent.
"My concern is how did an upstanding citizen like my son, my pride and joy, get to into this situation?" John Akbar said. "He has absolutely no previous encounters with the law and does not use alcohol or drugs. He has always been a role model for his younger brothers and sisters."
Witness: Soldier laughed at movie attack on U.S. forces
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Weeks before launching a deadly grenade attack on his comrades, Sgt. Hasan Akbar attended a camp showing of the movie "Apocalypse Now" and laughed at a scene of U.S. troops being hit by a grenade, a soldier testified Monday.
The testimony came as Akbar's lawyers opened their defense at his court-martial. Akbar is accused of allegedly ambushing fellow soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division in their tents at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait in March 2003, during the opening days of the Iraq war. An Army captain and an Air Force major were killed.
Akbar's lawyers do not dispute the fact he carried out the attack, but hope to spare him a possible death penalty by showing he was mentally incapable of premeditating it.
Spc. Joshua Rice testified that soldiers were watching the 1979 Vietnam War movie at their camp while they awaited their orders to move into Iraq.
During a scene in which a woman tosses a grenade into a helicopter loaded with wounded American soldiers, Akbar, who was seated at the back of the room, burst out laughing, Rice said. Akbar then got up and walked out, he said.
Prosecutors have said Akbar planned his attack on his fellow soldiers. Last week, they introduced diary entries in which he wrote that he might have to kill his "battle buddies."
Dr. Fred Tuton of Baton Rouge, La., said he first interviewed Akbar in 1986, when Akbar was 14. Local child-protection officials had sent Akbar for evaluation after his 4-year-old sister was found to have been molested by his stepfather.
"He never smiled at any time during my evaluation. That was very significant ... not showing any emotion," Tuton testified.
Tuton also said Akbar's greatest worry was "becoming a nothing" and that he felt guilty because he was the eldest of five children and didn't protect his sister from the abuse.
Several other soldiers testified Monday that Akbar was a loner. One sergeant said he relieved Akbar of his job as a team leader because of poor performance.
Akbar's parents — Quran Bilal of Baton Rouge and John Akbar of Seattle — are attending the trial, but neither has made a public comment. Both are possible defense witnesses.
Charged with murder
Killed in the attack were Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, who was shot in the back, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, who suffered 83 shrapnel wounds. Another 14 soldiers were injured.
The court-martial is the first time since the Vietnam era that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime.