Hasan Akbar Sentenced to Death for Attack on Unit

U.S. Soldier Sentenced to Death for 2003 Attack on Unit (NPR)

A military jury in Fort Bragg, N.C., has sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to death. Akbar was convicted last week of premeditated murder in a 2003 attack on his unit in Kuwait. Two officers were killed and 14 others wounded.

Click the link for Adam Hochburg’s audio report.

Sergeant Sentenced to Death for Killing Two Officers in Iraq (AP – WaPo, p. A6)

A military jury on Thursday sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to die for the 2003 murders of two officers in a grenade attack at an Army camp in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq invasion. The 15-person jury deliberated seven hours after hearing a barely audible and unsworn statement from Akbar, 34, who said he was sorry.

“I want to apologize for the attack that occurred. I felt that my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also want to ask you for forgiveness,” Akbar told jurors.

Huh? It was cold blooded murder of his own soldiers in a tent.

They chose between sentences of death, life in prison or life without parole. The same jury last week took 2 1/2 hours to convict him of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder. The sentence will be the subject of an automatic appeal. If Akbar is executed, it would be by lethal injection.

[…]

Akbar spoke for less than a minute, making an unsworn statement that could not be cross-examined. He spoke in such a low voice that even prosecutors sitting nearby had trouble hearing, with one lawyer cupping his ear.

Prosecutors have said Akbar launched the attack on members of the 101st Airborne Division in March 2003 at Camp Pennsylvania because he was concerned about U.S. troops killing fellow Muslims in the Iraq war. Although the defense contended Akbar was too mentally ill to plan the attack, they never disputed that it was he who threw grenades into troop tents in the early morning darkness and then fired on soldiers in the ensuing chaos. Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, were killed in the attack, and 14 others were wounded.

The court-martial is the first time since the Vietnam era that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime. Akbar will join five others on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The last U.S. military execution was in 1961. Pfc. John A. Bennett of the Army was put to death after his conviction for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

Akbar certainly deserves to die for his crimes. There’s not much more despicable an act a soldier could commit than murdering his own comrades in the middle of a war.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kappiy says:

    Nobody “deserves to die” for their crimes. The death penalty is a barbaric relic shunned by civilized society worldwide. This is further evidence of the lack of concern for human rights by the US government.

    Let’s celebrate the US joining beacons of freedom like Chad, Cuba, china, Iran, NOrth Korea, Liberia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe as we continue acts of torture and cruel & inhuman punishment.

  2. McGehee says:

    The death penalty is a barbaric relic shunned by civilized society worldwide.

    Kappiy, your definition of “civilized” would be interesting to see, since you obviously don’t consider the United States to be civilized — yet it is the U.S. that has taken the lead in the GWOT.

    And since opposing terrorism is itself a defense of civilization…

  3. Jack Tanner says:

    K –

    Your misplaced sympathy for cold blooded murderers is really touching. Explain how exectuing Akbar is either cruel or inhuman? That may not fit with your moral preening but maybe you can coherently explain what you mean.

  4. LJD says:

    I was just waiting for some whack-job to go off on behalf of this “poor soul”.
    K- What separates the U.S. from the other countries listed is that this dick was given a trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death.
    Elsewhere, he would have been expeditiously lynched. He should consider himself lucky. Such an act in a war zone is worthy of a M-16 burst to the chest.

  5. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘he would have been expeditiously lynched. ‘

    No – he would never have had a chance to surrender. He would have just been shot.

  6. Scott Dillard says:

    I get so tired of this argument. Opponents of the death penalty go on about how it’s cruel. Really? Tell it to the dead guys. Or that it’s not a deterrant. Really? Dead murderers don’t kill again. With a little research, one could come up with a very long list of convicted murderers who were later released only to kill again. Their later victims would have been alive had the bad guy been executed. This convicted soldier will not be given that chance.

  7. Attila Girl says:

    Beyond that, our willingness to execute those who commit particularly heinous crimes makes as statement about the value we place on the lives they themselves have taken.

    In some instances, failure to execute murderers is disrespectful in the extreme to their victims, particularly in cases where there are multiple victims, torture is involved, and (as James notes) where there is a deliberate, unprovoked attack on one’s brothers in arms.