Sergeant accused in grenade attack that killed two soldiers sent to States
March 29, 2003
MANNHEIM, Germany — After just three days behind bars at the U.S. Army Confinement Facility on Coleman Barracks, Sgt. Asan Akbar headed back to the United States on Friday.
“Sgt. Akbar was detained at the Mannheim facility to await transportation to an undisclosed location,” said Lt. Col. Brian McNerney. “It’s confirmed he has departed the facility.”
Under heavy guard, Akbar, the 101st Airborne Division soldier the Army suspects attacked his own men Sunday in Kuwait, arrived Tuesday in Mannheim.
The combat engineer assigned to the 326th Engineer Battalion was detained shortly after grenades exploded Sunday at the field headquarters of the division’s 1st Brigade at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait.
Two soldiers, Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, and Air National Guard Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, died from wounds suffered during the attack. The incident wounded 13 other soldiers, some of whom were treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; others remained in Kuwait.
Sometime before 8 a.m. Friday, Akbar left Mannheim in civilian clothes with his wrists, waist and ankles in shackles, said a military source who asked to remain anonymous.
Four soldiers guarded Akbar for the trip to Frankfurt, where he was to fly on a commercial aircraft to the United States, McNerney said.
Lt. Col. Susan Donaldson, commander of the 9th Military Police Detachment, declined to comment. She would not discuss her soldiers’ role in handling Akbar, McNerney said.
No military officials would say where Akbar is heading. The Army maintains a jail at Fort Knox, Ky., just two hours from the division headquarters at Fort Campbell.
During his brief stay, Akbar was isolated in D-block, a maximum-security wing reserved for serious offenders. The cell block is monitored by guards and cameras, the military source said. He said investigators interviewed Akbar from his cell, a small room that contains only a seatless toilet, a small sink and metal bed bolted to the wall.
Akbar’s only requests were to read his Koran and be served food that did not contain pork, the source said. His uniform and Koran were left behind at Mannheim, but would likely be shipped to him later, he added.
About 100 soldiers from the 9th Military Police Detachment maintain the only Army jail in Europe. Except for a few sailors and airmen on staff, most of the guards are in the Army.
There are about 75 inmates in Mannheim at this time, McNerney said. Akbar is the only soldier from the U.S. Central Command to be detained in Mannheim this year.
The U.S. Criminal Investigation Command began looking into the attack shortly after it occurred, said Marc Raimondi, a command spokesman based in Virginia. The command, commonly known CID, does not charge soldiers suspected of crimes, he said.
“The soldier’s chain of command has the charging responsibility,” Raimondi said. “Our investigation is still open.”
Before military court proceedings begin, Akbar’s commander must authorize them, said George Heath, a 101st Airborne Division spokesmen. Heath could not say if that had been done yet.
“We knew there were intentions to move him from Mannheim, but that’s about it,” Heath said.