Along with the latest news about the U.S. Army staff sergeant who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians on March 11, we want to note this heart-breaking quote from a man who says he lost almost all his family in that massacre:
“Like anyone, I wanted my children to be doctors, engineers — important people. All my dreams are buried under a pile of dust now,” farmer Muhammad Wazir tells NPR’s Quil Lawrence on today’s Morning Edition.
“My little boy, Habib Shah, is the only one left alive, and I love him very much,” Wazir added. All told, Wazir says, he lost his mother, his wife, his four daughters, two of his sons, a brother, a nephew and a sister-in-law.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, is now at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and NPR’s Tom Bowman tells us that formal charges could be brought against him in the next few days.
Once again this morning, as in other recent days, we’re learning more about him:
— “Bales defrauded an Ohio couple of more than $600,000 when he served as their stock broker in 2000, according to records of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority,” according to Bloomberg News. “An arbitrator in 2003 ordered Bales to pay more than $1.3 million in damages to Gary Liebschner and his wife of Carroll, Ohio.”
“There’s no sign he ever paid what he owned,” NPR’s Martin Kaste reports for our Newscast Desk.
— Bales’ wife Karilyn, in a statement posted by The Seattle Times, said her family sends “condolences to all the people of the Panjawai District … especially to the parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents of the children who perished. … What has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire.”
— Attorney John Henry Browne, who is representing Bales, says the soldier remembers little about the night of March 11, The Associated Press writes. But, NPR’s Kaste adds, Browne also said he would not use the word “amnesia” to describe Bales’ state of mind.
At 10 a.m. ET, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, is due to testify before the House Armed Services Committee. The session is to be webcast. According to the AP, in his prepared testimony Allen gives “no hint of an accelerated timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops in the face of increasing political and public pressure to end the military mission.”