Report: Afghan Massacre Occurred In Two Phases

It now appears that Staff Sgt. Robert Bailes took a break in the middle of his killing spree:

(AP) WASHINGTON – American officials say U.S. investigators now believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes – returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again.

This scenario seems to support the U.S. government’s assertion — contested by some Afghans — that the killings were done by one person, since they would have been perpetrated over a longer period of time than assumed when Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was detained March 11.

But it also raises questions about how Bales, who was formally charged with premeditated murder, could have carried out the slaughter without drawing attention from others on the American base in Kandahar province.


FILED UNDER: Asia, World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    This seems really bizarre. Not only how did no one on the base notice he was coming and going (to restock ammo?) but how was there no response from the Afghanis if this happened over an extended period of time? Even if it’s one guy running out from his house with a single rifle? It just doesn’t seem to add up.

  2. Bennett says:

    If they didn’t want to be killed, they shouldn’t have been wearing burkhas. -Geraldo

  3. Ben Wolf says:

    @Bennett: I think what Geraldo meant was that the Afghanis shouldn’t have worn skin and faces that looked Afghani.

  4. Dazedandconfused says:

    38 year old platoon sergeant? It’s quite possible he was a man drawing an E-6 salary, but wielding E-8 power around there.

    Guards? “Hey Sarge! Nice night, isn’t it?”

  5. He entered the military after September 11th. Before that, he had a career as a financial analyst I believe

  6. @Doug Mataconis:

    Before that, he had a career as a financial analyst I believe

    Which he lost for engaging in “fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments” and owes hundreds of thousands to his former clients:

  7. Herb says:

    It’s not looking good for the “he snapped due to combat stress” theory. I’m willing to be 10K of Mitt Romney’s money that when he went out the second time he was thinking, “Man, that was fun” rather than “The demons….they’re still talking to me!”

  8. mandy says:

    @Bennett: He should be taken back to afghanistan to have his trial there. He should receive the death penalty for taking the lives of these poor innocent women,children and men. He chose to enter the military,to serve and to protect not to kill innocent civilians.