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    Sept. 21, 2008, file photo, 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna, left, and his defense attorney Capt. Tom Clark, right, walk in Camp Speicher, a large U.S. base near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, Iraq

    ‘Part of a Pattern': Pardoned US Soldier Not Rogue Criminal But Cog in System

    © AP Photo / Vanessa Gera
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    The case of former US Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna sheds light on the "pattern" of criminal behavior exhibited by US servicemembers in combat zones, Brian Terrell, longtime peace activist and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non Violence, tells Sputnik.

    "This is not a rogue — one single, rogue, criminal, disturbed person who did one isolated heinous murder," Terrell told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday. "This is part of a pattern that goes back before 9/11, but especially since then."

    The "seemingly endless war against terrorism" is, of course, "terrorism in itself, and it doesn't appear to have any end," he said.

    ​US President Donald Trump on Monday granted a full pardon to Behenna, who was convicted by a military court in 2009 of killing Ali Mansur Mohammed, an Iraqi prisoner thought to have been involved in the murder of soldiers under Behenna's command.

    Mohammed was taken into US custody over the incident, but released due to a lack of evidence, and Behenna and a platoon were ordered to transfer Mohammed back to a nearby checkpoint. It was during this transit that Behenna took matters into his own hands, stopping near the town of Baiji to question Mohammed about the roadside explosion that had killed Behenna's men on April 21.

    The 2008 interview ultimately ended with Mohammed dead and Behenna claiming that the suspect had forced his hand, attempting to take his weapon. Behenna was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison, but was released on parole in 2014. He was expected to remain on parole until 2024 before he was pardoned.

    Terrell told host Walter Smolarek that Behenna's claim that he was trying to defend himself from Mohammed is "pretty absurd."

    "The right of self-defense doesn't extend to when you're committing an assault on someone," he said, explaining that when Behenna whisked Mohammed away for questioning, the former soldier had stripped the unarmed Iraqi man naked and interrogated him while pointing a gun at his head.

    "This is especially grizzly, and to be clear, everything that led to the conviction of Michael Behenna was — he was not following orders. He was a rogue actor."

    Terrell stressed that ultimately "there's a lot of responsibility to bear" when it comes to this case and all violence in Iraq. He laid the blame for the murder also on the various politicians who voted for and supported the funding of the US invasion of Iraq, and the institutions that urge Americans to support their troops above all.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    Pardon, Murder, Donald Trump, Ali Mansur Mohammed, Michael Behenna, Iraq, United States
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