Elite US Navy SEAL accused of stabbing unarmed teen “ISIS prisoner” to death in custody

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher

A US Navy SEAL could be jailed for life over the alleged murder of an unarmed teenage prisoner who was accused of being an ISIS fighter in his custody.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is accused of killing the unarmed 15-year-old while in his custody in Iraq in May 2017.

He is said to have stabbed the teen to death and then posed for a photo with the corpse and the knife he used to carry out the murder.

Prosecutors have also charged the elite soldier – who has been awarded the prestigious Bronze Star twice for his military service overseas – with the shooting of other unarmed Iraqi civilians.

These include an elderly man pushing a water cart in June 2017 and a schoolgirl walking along a riverbank a month later.

The Navy veteran will plead not guilty to all charges at a hearing this Friday, but faces life in jail if convicted during his trial.

The case against him includes evidence from fellow Navy SEALs, whom Gallagher claims have falsely accused him because they were jealous of his achievements.

During a two-day preliminary court hearing at a naval base in California, in November, Gallagher was described as someone who had “gone off the rails” during his eighth deployment.

The alleged ISIS fighter he is accused of murdering had been handed over to US soldiers in Mosul to receive treatment for injuries sustained during an airstrike.

Gallagher is accused of stabbing the teenager in his neck and body, after which he told a colleague that he had been “working on him” when he “just died”.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Joe Warpinski told the court that members of SEAL Team 7 had informed him that Gallagher would fire into crowds, which led to the deaths of an elderly man and a schoolgirl in Mosul.

He allegedly threatened to publicly name fellow SEALs if they reported his crimes.

According to Mr Warpinski, some SEALs were so concerned that they did not tell him his sniper rifle settings were off so his shooting would be less accurate – and they would fire warning shots to clear areas of civilians.

Prosecutors have accused his commander, Lieutenant Jacob Portier, of not acting on the claims made against Gallagher and his first hearing is to be arranged.

There has also been speculation in the US that the case may widen to implicate others for not reporting what they saw.

However, for now, the cases is solely focussed on Gallagher who has been in custody since 11 September 2018.

An online campaign has raised more than $200,000 (£158,361) for his legal defence costs.

The page, set up by the Navy SEALs fund, states: “Eddie’s record and reputation as an elite warrior is rivalled only by a few men who have served by his side as special warfare operators and heroes who have gone before him.”

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