KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – In a statement released by the International Security Assistance Force, Gen. John R. Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, “strongly condemned” a U.S. newspaper’s release of photos that allegedly depicted U.S. soldiers posing with the remains of a suicide bomber in 2010.
"The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of ISAF or the U.S. Army," Allen is quoted as saying. "This behavior and these images are entirely inconsistent with the values of ISAF and all service members of the fifty ISAF countries serving in Afghanistan."
The Los Angeles Times, in a story published Wednesday, wrote that it was given 18 photos by a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division. The photos showed fellow paratroops grinning as they posed with the remains of a suicide bomber in Zabul province in 2010.
"These actions undermine the daily sacrifices of thousands of ISAF troops who continue to serve honorably in Afghanistan," Allen goes on to say in the news release. "We will collaborate with Afghan authorities and carefully examine the facts and circumstances shown in these photos. As part of this process, we will determine responsibility and accountability of those involved.”
The photos have emerged at a particularly sensitive moment in U.S.-Afghan relations, the Times noted. In January, a video appeared on the Internet showing four U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, the inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran at a U.S. base triggered riots that left 30 dead and led to the deaths of six Americans. In March, a U.S. Army sergeant went on a nighttime shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17.
According to the Times, the soldier who provided the 18 photos did so on condition of anonymity. He served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bragg, N.C. The Times added that the soldier said the photos point to a breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops.
U.S. military officials asked the Times not to publish the pictures.
But Times editor Davan Maharaj is quoted in the story as saying, "After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops."
Source: Los Angeles Times