A former Army commando has been charged with murder for allegedly hunting down an Afghan militant suspected in the killing of two Marines and fatally shooting the man before destroying his remains.
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, a once-decorated Green Beret, tracked down the suspected terrorist in 2010 when the man was released from US custody after being detained for setting off explosion at a bazaar in the southern Afghan city of Marjah.
An Army Special Operations Command spokesman told Fox News on Friday that “sufficient evidence exists” to warrant charges against Golsteyn.
But the former commando’s lawyer said Golsteyn had been “betrayed” by the Army.
Golsteyn explained in a 2016 interview that he killed the suspect, who had been turned over by Afghans cooperating with the US, because the man was likely to cause more violence.
“There’s limits on how long you can hold guys,” he told Fox News for a special report titled “How We Fight.”
“You realize quickly that you make things worse. It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed.”
Asked if he killed the man, Golsteyn said, “Yes.”
In addition, Golsteyn admitted to the action in a polygraph statement to the CIA while interviewing for a job. The admission led to an investigation and ultimately the charges.
The chain of events began in 2010 when an explosion took place at a bazaar. Two US Marines — Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27, and Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson, 19 — were killed.
The next day, two Afghan men walked up to the US military compound with the suspect bound. They said he was responsible for the attack.
The man, however, was released when no bomb-making material was found. But not long after, he was shot while walking along a path in Marjah.
Initially, an Army investigation could find no one who could corroborate Golsteyn’s claim to have killed the bomb maker, nor could it find any remains of the Afghan.
But investigators said “Golsteyn committed the offenses of murder and conspiracy based on the interview provided by the CIA,” according to a Sept. 29 Army memo.
Golsteyn told NBC News on Thursday that the 2016 Fox News interview led to his current legal predicament.
“I’m here right now because of that interview,” Golsteyn said.
“I did the interview because I wanted to do some advocacy, not talk about my case or what happened in Afghanistan.”
Despite being reprimanded in 2014 and seeing his Silver Star revoked, Golsteyn maintains that he took the correct action.
“I have had commanders look me in the face and tell me I have done nothing wrong,” Golsteyn said.
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