BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — The Afghan soldier accused of killing 16 U.S. military personnel in a "green-on-blue" attack, many of them asleep in their tents, pleaded guilty to murder Thursday in an effort to avoid the death penalty.
Corporal Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed's plea ensures that he will avoid the most serious punishments from the Afghan court, including death by firing squad, dismemberment, torture with fire, and sex with a woman.
Prosecutors say Mohammed slipped away before dawn on March 11, 2012, from his camp at Bagram Air Field. Armed with an AK-47 rifle and an "I hate infidels" t-shirt, he attacked the tents of multiple U.S. troops, then returned to tell a fellow soldier what he had done.
The soldier believed every word he said and joined him as he again attacked other tents.
The brother of Sgt. Robert Phillips, who was slain in the massacre, told Duffel Blog Thursday that, "If Afghanistan does not apply the death penalty to Mohammed for this criminal and murderous behavior, then it shows Afghanistan is encouraging its soldiers to kill Americans, destroy and torch their tents, then (receive) a Medal of Honor."
Robert Bales, an expert in Afghan criminal law and former U.S. Army soldier, told Duffel Blog this is a clear case of double standards from the legal system.
"Let's just say, hypothetically, that an American soldier goes out and just randomly kills 16 Afghan civilians," Bales told reporters. "Then he comes back, gets put on trial, pleads guilty to the crimes. Of course, we know that soldier would get the death penalty and there would absolutely be no chance he would ever, ever, ever, get parole."
A jury will decide in August whether the soldier will be sentenced to life with or without the possibility of parole. He would serve his prison sentence at the prison complex in Kandahar, until his family bribes the guards to release him, or just decide to murder them instead.
Frank Wuterich, an attorney defending Mohammed, said his client was remorseful and hopes American soldiers serving in Afghanistan do not take retribution against Afghan civilians for his actions.
At press time, the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the mass killings, in addition to a bombing in Sangin, Tropical storm Andrea, and the Kennedy assassination.