A group of Navy SEAL commandos from Team 7’s Alpha Platoon allege that they were warned by top brass against reporting their commanding officer for possible war crimes in Iraq.
Special Operations Chief Edward ‘Blade’ Gallagher, 39, a highly decorated platoon chief, has been accused by several members of his platoon of committing atrocities in Iraq. These include: indiscriminately bombarding civilian neighborhoods with rocket and machine-gun fire, opening fire on civilians without provocation and summarily executing a captured, teenage Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighter who was undergoing medical treatment by US medics, by stabbing him repeatedly with a custom-made knife and hatchet.
He was arrested in September on more than a dozen charges including premeditated murder and attempted murder, all of which he denies. He faces life in prison and was detained in the Navy brig following his arrest amid fears he was attempting to intimidate witnesses and undermine the investigation.
Seven members of Gallagher’s platoon called a meeting in March 2018 at Naval Base Coronado outside of San Diego to request a formal investigation but they were rebuffed and told that speaking out could cost them their careers. Prior to the hearing they had repeatedly warned top brass of the behavior and were ignored.
“Stop talking about it,” they were reportedly told by one of the investigators.
Following his arrest, some 40 Republican members of Congress signed a letter calling for Gallagher’s release ahead of his trial. US President Donald Trump later announced in March that Gallagher would be moved to “less restrictive confinement” pending his court martial which is set to begin May 28.
Gallagher’s immediate superior Lt. Jacob Portier has also been charged with failing to report potentially criminal actions and destroying evidence related to the Navy investigation into Gallagher’s conduct in Iraq.