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U.S. sergeant accused of attacking fellow soldiers

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FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (AP) -- One by one, a total of 15 Army witnesses told a military jury about the pain and confusion that followed a deadly grenade attack in the Kuwait desert carried out by one of their own.

Sgt. Hasan Akbar's lawyers said their client could not have planned the attack, and hope to spare him a possible death penalty for premeditated murder by alleging a history of mental illness that was apparent to the military.

"The enemy was in Sgt. Akbar's mind, and had been there 15 years," defense lawyer Maj. Dan Brookhart said in his opening statement Monday.

The court-martial marks the first time since the Vietnam War that a soldier has been prosecuted for the murder of another soldier during wartime. The trial was set to resume Tuesday.

Fourteen soldiers were wounded in the March 2003 attack at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, either by the grenades or when Akbar opened fire with a rifle in the ensuing chaos. Killed were Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40.

Akbar, 33, confessed several times and allegedly told investigators he carried out the attack in the opening days of the Iraq war because he was worried that U.S. forces would harm fellow Muslims.

Military prosecutors built their case victim by victim -- with 15 witnesses testifying Monday, some only a few minutes.

"It was like getting hit by a car," said Capt. Terry Bacon, who had shrapnel wounds to his back, legs and buttocks, but didn't realize it until he tried to run out of the tent and his legs failed him.

Other soldiers said they were confused about how the enemy could get inside the camp and that someone ran by their tent warning of an attack just as grenades rolled in.

"I heard something hit the wooden floor of our tent and then bounce. I've seen movies, Hollywood movies, and grenades sounded like that," said Capt. Mark Wisher, who suffered a collapsed lung, lacerated liver and punctured diaphragm.

Brookhart said Akbar's mental illness stemmed from the sexual abuse of his sister by his stepfather, and as a teenager he was diagnosed with depression and an adjustment disorder. He later developed a sleep disorder.

In the Army, his problems led to Akbar being demoted from a squad leader's position and being given menial duties.

"He was basically a failure as a soldier," Brookhart said.

Military prosecutor Capt. John Benson argued the attack was premeditated, adding that evidence indicates Akbar did extensive planning. In diary entries and actions -- which included stealing grenades and turning off a generator that lit the camp -- Akbar laid the groundwork for his fatal attack.

The brigade was on alert for an enemy attack, Benson said, but "their enemy was already inside the wire."

Source

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Just disturbing to hear this happen. I saw it on the nightly news when it happened a while back and they are just finally putting him on trial.

"He was basically a failure as a soldier," Brookhart said.

Indeed he is a failure.

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They should have executed that dirtbag on the spot.

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Sgt. Hasan Akbar's

I wonder if his name was John Smith or George Williams if there would be any more or less of an interest in the story?

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you know if it was a Christian killing them because he thought they were going to kill fellow christians it'd be all over the news and people would be pointing fingers at christians everywhere condemning the whole faith. Would be way more than the attention and reporting than what this guy is getting. The guys name doesn't seem to have much of an impact, his behavior sure did!

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I think if a christian soldier in Iraq wasted a bunch of muslims specifically because they were muslim, we would never hear the end of it.

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right!?

well I guess if anyone started killing muslims because they were muslims, if they were western we'd never hear the end of it christian or not.

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If the guy was, as they say, mentally unstable, why in God's name did he get sent to a war zone in the first place????

Why did he have access to munitions?

I know he stole the grenades but he still had a rifle in his hand. He just should not have been there let alone in the military even!

If I knew some nutter was in charge of a weapon and was in my unit, I'd refuse to soldier. Simply vote with your feet.

"Sir, I am refusing to soldier because Sgt. Hasan Akbar is a raving lunatic and I don't feel safe in his company".

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