The U.S. soldier suspected in the killing of 16 Afghans in a shooting rampage last week was being flown from Kuwait to the military's maximum security prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas Friday, as more details emerged about his state of mind when the massacre occurred.
The transfer of the chief suspect in the March 12 shooting rampage came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai slammed the United States Friday for its handling of the case, saying he was "at the end of the rope," the Associated Press reported. The Afghan leader, meeting with relatives of those killed in southern Afghanistan Friday, also alleged that more U.S. soldiers may have been involved in the massacre.
The victims in one family were shot in four separate rooms, "and then they were all brought together in one room and then set on fire," Karzai said at the emotional meeting with family members Friday, according to the AP. "That, one man cannot do."
President Obama called Karzai Friday morning to try to defuse tensions over the massacre as well as smooth differences over the transition timetable signaled by Karzai's surprise request Thursday that U.S. troops be pulled from Afghan villages.
In the call, "the two leaders took the opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment" to a transition process under which Afghan forces would "have full responsibility for security across the country by the end of 2014," the White House said in a readout of the call, in which Obama also congratulated Karzai on the birth of a new daugther.
A Seattle defense attorney for the still unnamed U.S. staff sergeant said that a day before the incident, his client had witnessed a friend and fellow soldier lose his leg in an explosion, which upset the unit.
"His leg was blown off, and my client was standing next to him," Seattle attorney John Henry Browne told the Associated Press.
Browne described his client as a decorated soldier and happily married father of two children, ages 3 and 4, whose extended family had been "totally shocked" by the allegations about their relative.
Afghan Pres. Karzai met with US Def. Sec. Panetta in Kabul March 15, 2012. (Scott Olson/Getty, via Bloomberg)"He's never said anything antagonistic about Muslims," Browne said at a news conference at his Seattle law firm Thursday, the AP reported. "He's in general very mild-mannered."
But his client had twice been injured on three previous tours in Iraq, Browne said, and had not been pleased about being deployed to Afghanistan last December.
His client's unit, part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, "had initially been told they wouldn't have to go to Afghanistan, Browne said," according to the AP.
His client had also "suffered a concussive head injury in a car accident caused by a roadside bomb," on his last tour to Iraq and had lost part of his foot in another battle-related injury.
Originally from the Midwest, the soldier, now 38, joined the military right after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks out of patriotism, Browne described. Part of his large extended family had relocated from the Midwest to the Takoma, Washington area near his base, Joint Base Ft. Lewis-McChord, to be closer to him, the lawyer described.
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