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‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her and her family

21 December 2010 General 5 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, Green's 14-year-old victim, whose parents and sister were also murdered in the attack. Green said deaths of two of his colleagues had 'messed him up real bad'

  • Steven Dale launches appeal against five life sentences because he was tried in civilian court
  • He says warzone sent him crazy and deaths of two colleagues had ‘messed me up real bad’
  • An Iraq War veteran serving five life terms for raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her parents and sister says he didn’t think of Iraqi civilians as humans after being exposed to extreme warzone violence.

    Steven Green, a former 101st Airborne soldier, in his first interview since the 2006 killings, claimed that his crimes were fuelled in part by experiences in Iraq’s violent ‘Triangle of Death’ where two of his sergeants were gunned down.

    He also cited a lack of leadership and help from the Army.

    ‘I was crazy,’ Green said in the exclusive telephone interview from federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. ‘I was just all the way out there. I didn’t think I was going to live.’

    Green talked about what led up to the March 12, 2006, attack on a family near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, that left him serving five consecutive life sentences.

    The former soldier, who apologised at sentencing for his crimes, said he wasn’t seeking sympathy nor trying to justify his actions – killings prosecutors described at trial in 2009 as one of the worst crimes of the Iraq war.

    But Green said people should know his actions were a consequence of his circumstances in a war zone.

    ‘If I hadn’t ever been in Iraq, I wouldn’t be in the kind of trouble I’m in now,’ Green said. ‘I’m not happy about that.’

    Green was discharged with a ‘personality disorder’ before federal charges were brought against him.

    Prosecutors sought a death sentence, but a federal jury in Paducah, Kentucky, opted for five life sentences on charges including the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi and the shooting deaths of her mother, father and younger sister.

    Four other soldiers were convicted in military court for various roles in the attack. Three remain in military prison.

    Green is challenging the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows the federal government to charge an American in civilian court for alleged crimes committed overseas. He was the first former soldier convicted under the statute. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments for January 21.

    Green is challenging the constitutionality of that law, saying it gives the executive branch too much leeway over whom to prosecute. Prosecutors say the law should be upheld.

    ‘I’ve got some hope, but I’m not delusional about it,’ said Green, now 25. ‘I hope it works. But, whenever they give you multiple life sentences, they’re not planning on letting you out.’

    Green didn’t testify at trial. During sentencing, he apologized and said he expects to face ‘God’s justice’ when he dies.

    Steven Green, pictured in April 2009, is serving five life sentences for rape and murder in Iraq. He has launched appeal but doesn't have 'much hope' of ever being freed

    A 19-year-old high school dropout from Midland, Texas, Green joined the Army after obtaining his high school equivalency diploma from a correspondence school.

    He said signing up was easy, born of a sense of duty to defend his country and the opportunities that offered.

    ‘I thought I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t,’ Green said. ‘You’ve got a career, you’ve got a job. It gives you opportunities to do things with your life.’

    The military placed Green with the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne. Upon arriving in Iraq, Green said, his training to kill, the rampant violence and derogatory comments by other soldiers against Iraqis served to dehumanise that country’s civilian population.

    A turning point came on December 10, 2005, Green said, when a previously friendly Iraqi approached a traffic checkpoint and opened fire.

    The shots killed Staff Sgt. Travis L. Nelson, 41, instantly. Sgt. Kenith Casica, 32, was hit in the throat. Casica died as soldiers raced him aboard a Humvee to a field hospital.

    Green said those deaths ‘messed me up real bad.’

    The deaths intensified Green’s feelings toward all Iraqis, whom soldiers often called by a derogatory term. ‘There’s not a word that would describe how much I hated these people,’ Green said. ‘I wasn’t thinking these people were humans.’

    Neighbour Hussein Mohammed points to the charred and blood-splattered crime scene where the killings took place in Mahmoudiya, Iraq

    Over the next four months, Green sought help from a military stress counsellor, obtaining small doses of a mood-regulating drug – and a directive to get some sleep before returning to his checkpoint south of Baghdad.

    In the interview, Green described alcohol and drugs being prevalent at the checkpoint. Green said soldiers there frequently felt abandoned by the Army and were given little support after the deaths of Casica and Nelson.

    Spc. James P. Barker of Fresno, California, testified that he pitched the idea of going to the al-Janabi family’s home to Sgt. Paul E. Cortez of Barstow, California, who was in charge of the traffic checkpoint.

    Green, who talked frequently of wanting to kill Iraqis, was brought along.

    Cortez testified that Barker and Green had the idea of having sex with the girl and that he didn’t know the family would be killed.

    Green, then a private,saidhe had ‘an altered state of mind’ at the time. ‘I wasn’t thinking about more than 10 minutes into the future at any given time,’ Green said. ‘I didn’t care.’

    At the Iraqi home, Barker and Cortez pulled Abeer into one room, while Green held the mother, father and youngest daughter in another.

    Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, stood guard in the hall. As Barker and Cortez raped the teen, Green shot the three family members, killing them.

    He then went into the next room and raped Abeer, before shooting her in the head. The soldiers lit her remains on fire before leaving. Another soldier stood watch a few miles away at the checkpoint.

    Since his sentencing on September 4, 2009, Green has been attacked at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was then transferred to Arizona.

    In prison, Green converted to Catholicism and has corresponded with a nun in Louisville about his faith.

    Green described prison life as a ‘lonely existence’ and said other inmates consider those convicted of sex offenses among the lowest, making life ‘hazardous’ among the general prison population.

    For Green, each day is just a matter of getting through 24 hours so he can do it all again the next day. Meanwhile, he lives with memories of the attack that took away the Iraqi family.

    ‘If I thought that was an OK thing now, I wouldn’t be much of a human being,’ Green said.

    Scene of the attack in Al Mahmoudiya on the outsikirts of Baghdad

    Original post: ‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier


    1. I personally think he’s lying about his motivations to do harm to that girl and her family. It’s a convenient excuse for him to exercise his sick and twisted desires. If he hadn’t been caught we would never have heard anything about it and we certainly wouldn’t be hearing this nonsense about his time in Iraq and the situation there being the driving factor in his sick attack. All of this “it’s someone else’s fault I did that” is the biggest load I’ve ever heard. He should be put to death…slowly.

    2. It’s sad that it happen ,the war were young men and women who witnessed and served in the military I experience first hand of those I know personally a change person when they came back from Iraq.It’s close to home of where I am now .Serving to those who serve our country.
      Of the crime he committed I pray for his salvation of this young man.

    3. Let him rot in prison, then if God be true, let him face judgment by him as well.

      This just doesn’t happen to military personnel. Post traumatic stress, yes. Sheer bloody sick and twisted murder does not, or else we’d be hearing stories like this much more often.

      The boy lies. Let him suffer for his insolence.

    4. It’s so sad that so many people’s lives are forever changed and ruined for the hateful and twisted lusts of disenfranchised soldiers in a very scary and increasingly violent situation. I do not feel any pity for this man or any of the others, God’s justice is here on Earth as well as the next life for them. I agree with you Mike ^^^ but I still feel sad that this young man and several others just threw away their lives over something so foolish. The truly tragic thing is that they not only ruined their own lives, but devastated and destroyed that little girl and her entire family… this is just vile and worthy of the torture they claim is “ok” and legal for alleged terrorists… Truly this unit are the REAL terrorists…

    5. How revolting. And we wonder why the Iraqis and the whole middle east hate us. I am 150% sure this is not the first time an american soldier does something like this, nor will it be the last.
      How sick sick sick. I agree, he should be raped 3 times and put to death very very slowly.

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