Photos emerge of US soldiers posing with maimed bodies of dead Afghan insurgents

Published: April 18, 2012

This screenshot of the LA Times website shows the story and part of a photograph where US soldiers posed with body parts of maimed dead Afghan insurgents. PHOTO: LA TIME SCREENSHOT

KABUL: Already tense US and NATO ties with Afghanistan were dealt another blow on Wednesday with photographs appearing in an American newspaper of US soldiers posing with the maimed bodies of dead Afghan insurgents.

Senior US officials and NATO’s top commander in the country, US General John Allen, moved quickly to condemn the pictures even before they were published by the Los Angeles Times, which received the photos from another soldier.

“The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of International Security Assistance Force or the US Army,” Allen said in a statement, adding an investigation into the incident was underway.

The appearance on the LA Times website of some of the 18 pictures, taken in 2010, comes at a sensitive time in US-Afghan relations, following release of a video in January that showed four US Marines urinating on Afghan insurgent corpses.

The inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran at a major NATO airbase also triggered a week of riots that left 30 dead and led to the deaths of six Americans.

And in March a US Army sergeant went on a nighttime shooting rampage in two southern Afghan villages, killing 17 civilians and prompting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to demand foreign soldiers confine themselves to major bases.

Taliban insurgents launched suicide attacks in Kabul and three other provinces at the weekend, claiming the assault was launched in retaliation for all three incidents.

In one of the pictures a paratrooper posed next to an unofficial patch placed beside a body that read “Zombie Hunter”, while in another soldiers posed with Afghan police holding the severed legs of an insurgent bombers.

Two soldiers in another frame held a dead insurgent’s hand with the middle finger raised.

The LA Times said the 82nd Airborne Division soldiers had been at a police station in Afghanistan’s Zabol province in February 2010, and revisited several months later. The pictures were taken on both occasions.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement released by departmental spokesman George Little that publication of the pictures could prompt further attacks against security forces ahead.

“The danger is that this material could be used by the enemy to incite violence against US and Afghan service members in Afghanistan,” Panetta said. “US forces in the country are taking security measures to guard against it.”

The US Ambassador in Afghanistan Ryan Crocker also condemned the photographs, calling the actions of the soldiers “morally repugnant” and saying they “dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of US soldiers and civilians who have served with distinction in Afghanistan”.

The Times defended the distribution of the photos, which US military officials asked the Times not to publish.

“After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan,” Times Editor Davan Maharaj said in the newspaper’s article.

The photos are likely to stir up more anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan as NATO combat troops look to exit the country in 2014 and strengthen fragile security in the country.

Such incidents have complicated US efforts to negotiate a strategic partnership agreement to define its presence once most foreign combat troops pull out by the end of 2014.

Reader Comments (63)

  • Lazarus
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:05PM

    Nothing new, If there drones can kill infants this is nothing new,

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:37PM

    Denying is not reseved to ISPR only pentagon is far ahead from pakistan.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:39PM

    Hitler was better than these american zonmies army.

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  • hamza khan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:46PM

    classy move by the classiest army in the world. another feather in the cap for the americans. well done sirs! way to win hearts and minds.

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  • BlackJack
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:48PM

    Incredibly senseless.

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  • Zeta
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:21PM

    Liberal fascists of Pakistan (particularly ET) must be sad seeing their ideal army’s acts.

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  • NotSurprised!!!
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:24PM

    Another hearts and mind victory by americans! These marines are a gift that keeps on giving, first categena now afghanistan. And then they cry and wonder about why the world doesnt like them!!!Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:41PM

    Posing next to your dead enemy has been around since the cave man — may not be politically correct but it’s human nature.

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  • Patriotic_Pakistani_Pashtun
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:59PM

    I am deeply offended by this inhumane deplorable act of the NATO forces. When Raymond Davis kills two innocent Pakistanis in broad daylight, Miss Clinton is quick to make reference to Geneva Convention. Where is the Geneva Convention now? Miss Clinton and Mr. US.

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  • DevilHunterX
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:10PM

    “The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of International Security Assistance Force or the US Army,” Allen said in a statement, adding an investigation into the incident was underway.

    Standard POS response everytime like this happens. Recommend

  • Blithe
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:17PM

    @Cautious:
    No, it’s not normal.
    Certainly urinating on corpses is not normal.

    Sickening of you to even try to defend it.

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  • UseIt
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:20PM

    @Cautious As humans didn’t we undergo a phenomena called education i.e. changing one’s nature.

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  • Crystal
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:24PM

    STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS OR STAND IN FRONT OF THEM!
    The USA is at War – I know it is hard to think of these photos as being okay (which i disagree with) but, We teach these men and women to kill and be killers and are suprised when they pose with their kill like a trophy? The troops are out in Afghanistan on orders from the US President and this is their job. NO its not right to kill but, when your country is at war you gotta do what you gotta do. Has anyone here had to fight to save their own life? Our troops are fighting so that the rest of us Americans can stay at home, free and not living in fear and also so we do not see things like this here on US soil.
    Do you remember how you felt when the terrorist hit the trade towers and killed thousands of Americans? Its easy to say OH MY GOD i cant beleive this but, this is reality when you are at WAR>

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  • Ron B.
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:24PM

    I got to say, you can’t put young men into a foreign country and have them roam around hunting to kill or be killed, for one tour after another, and expect them not to become callous — if not seriously scarred — by the experience.
    Rather than attack the immorality of the troops, I suggest people question the morality of sending them there in the first place. It is long overdue that they come home and get the help they need adjusting back to society.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 10:25PM

    What madness supports the idea that you can kill your way into earning the love and admiration of a people? If I were a relative of anyone murdered by invaders, I would spend every last breath seeking revenge.

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  • Sprdthewrd
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:28PM

    I have pictures of me when I was 19 in Vietnam with a skull we carried around for months named “Charley”

    I am 62 now, no I would not do it again. Leave these guys alone they have and will have enough to deal with the rest of their lives. They will live with the horrors of war forever.
    101st ABN Vietnam 69-70

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  • Cautious
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:30PM

    What is wrong with the US troops? This is so degrading, inhumane and stupid! Are these the kind of people that are serving and protecting our country? If they can do this away from home, makes one wonder what they do would AT home! Ridiculous! And of course, through some technicality, they will not be held accountable for these actions – there is always an excuse for the US Troops!

    Protecting and serving our country, are they? Or is it more like ‘bringing shame to our country?’

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  • Cautious
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:37PM

    LA Times – you are PATHETIC.

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  • Cautious
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:42PM

    LA should not have shown the pics, they are risking the lives of our soldiers

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  • Anonymous
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:45PM

    I do not understand the vast majority of the comments putting down the American people as a whole. I certainly never see this type of behavior out of any American citizen in the states, so shame on those of you who are too ignorant to realize the military does not represent our ideals as an entire country. I know plenty of my friends who were service men and women who couldn’t even dream of doing something like this. What these troops are doing is, in my opinion, bringing a huge amount of shame to our country. They are acting no better than a criminal. What part of previous issues like this has not hit home with our troops? Especially after the huge media field day with the civilian killings in Afghanistan. It’s not funny, it’s not acceptable, and the people in the picture should be held accountable. Terrorists or not, could you imagine the outcry if it were American body parts with foreign military in those pictures? There needs to be a no tolerance policy in our military on this kind of sick behavior.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:51PM

    @crystal
    America all ready killed millions of non whilte humans is not it that enough?? or u still blood thrusty for more human bloodRecommend

  • Kae
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:53PM

    @Crystal: I stand behind the troops that go over and do their jobs. I refuse to stand behind ignorant, immature, whose first response to seeing dead bodies and gore spread all over is “Dude, let’s take a picture!” My grandfathers, friends, and brother in law have all been to war. They have all killed and felt the horrors of war, and still do to this day. Do not for a second think they would have ever done something like this. This is not normal. Making excuses for this kind of behavior just because you clearly think it’s admirable to stand up for our troops is plain ridiculous. Stand up for the troops that go over and give it their all and still bring honor to our country, they’re the admirable ones.Recommend

  • Apr 18, 2012 - 10:54PM

    @Cautious:
    thank god for once u accepted the truth

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  • huzaifa
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:01PM

    “The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of International Security Assistance Force or the US Army,” Allen said in a statement. So why can’t us understands once Pakistan says that actions of hafiz Saeed don’t represent the policies of pakistan government.(:

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  • NOOR
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:01PM

    mr CRYSTAL………………..be careful wth ur thoughts n word u r still living in dat old 2011 nw its all been proven n known to everyone dat TWIN TOWERS was nt a terrorist attack it was projected such soo dat so called PEACE KEEPER mr american can jump in to middle east countries physically n its ur own deeds dat nw wat u ppl called WAR ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,its not a war WAR is wat palestinians n iraqi ppl r going though cz of AMERICA n ur friends JEWS…………..plz open ur mind n try 2 live in reality wich is all around u but u r sitting wth close EYES N MIND……………….plz WAKEUP

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 11:05PM

    @Cautious:
    So you think publishing news about U.S. Soldiers doing evil things abroad should remain unreported? You believe that the rest of the World shouldn’t know about what’s happening over there; not both sides of the story? Using your logic, no news should be published about the inhumane crimes of US forces. American do u think u can get away from this ???

    Good reporting guys. I keep reading the LA Times for a reason.

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  • A retired Army officer
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:11PM

    Those of you that condemn these young soldiers have never faced the horror of what many of them have had to endure most likely on multiple tours. You either dehumanize those you are asked to destroy; or it destroys you. They fight your wars, following the orders of the leaders that have been directed by the civilian politicians that all of you have either voted into office, or done nothing to have them replaced by those that would do what you think is morally correct.

    Perhaps placing the blame on the military and the young men that have done these acts you should look at yourselves to blame. These soldiers did not join the military because they had some perverse way of looking at humanity. They joined because they believed in their country, or sought the pay and benefits the military offers them. Yet you who condemn them have most likely never walked a single step in their shoes. You live a life insulated to the cruelties and harshness of what many in the rest of this world suffer through. Yeah, you are the same hypocrits that bad mouth multi-national corporations that produce Iphones or other goods by those enslaved to make them; yet bemoan if they are too expensive or too rare for you to purchase

    If you don’t like what these soldiers have done; then vote to change the leaders that have put them there. Better yet, go join those soldiers and by your righteous example show them the proper way to act after being exposed to the insanity and horror of war. Oh yeah, you are a coward. Fully all that country provides for you; but not willing to return anything in return for all the blessing bestowed upon you.

    BTW, I’m a retired army officer; having spent over 20 years defending this country. I’m 5th generation military. Grow up, wake up and open your eyes.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 11:11PM

    @Crystal:
    u believe that twin towers were attacked by Afghans/Taliban ? keep living in self denial

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 11:26PM

    may earth quake shaken your lands, and your hearts.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 11:30PM

    @Crystal:
    Imagine if china Invades USA

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  • KF
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:30PM

    It is obvious that many of you commenting have never put yourself on the line and possibly sacrifice your life for another ever in your life or know the stresses that come with it. War is ugly. I do not condone doing this, but there is another mentality that you Utopian’s can never imagine. That’s why you are here commenting and not at war. It’s a “me or them” mentality over there and if it came down to shoot or be killed I am sure you would save your own hide. This has been going on in every war on every side. The difference is that now everyone has a camera.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @Crystal:
    Does being an American always mean, wooly in the head? Which Afghan was at WTC?
    Normal dose of brain-washing can be tolerable but this?

    WTC does not lie in the center of Kabul. Kapish.

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  • B.
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:42PM

    It’s propaganda. Just like the fake footage of US soldiers peeing on dead taliban. The news lies.

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  • Joe
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:45PM

    Snore.. War Sucks. Get over it..

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  • Al
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:45PM

    The idea that soldiers – regardless of nationality – retain the same delicate sensibilities as someone sitting on their bum typing at a computer is ridiculous. It’s not the fault of the country, it’s the fault of the war. What I find worse than these soldiers are the politicians who sent them there and yet preach outrage when the soldiers do the kinds of things that soldiers throughout history and from all over the world have done.

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  • logrick
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:49PM

    There should not have been any pictures for the LA times to publish.@Cautious:

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  • just sayin
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:03AM

    The media is acting like this is something new. I am in no way saying it is ok but I have seen the same type of pistures from WWII, Vietnam, Korea and The Gulf.

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  • Apr 19, 2012 - 12:06AM

    @A retired Army officer:
    Apparently the army performs lobotomy on every entrant, perhaps in case of officers, they use axe and saw.

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  • zing zhang bing bang
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:12AM

    Hitler probably knew how to spell zombie. @Ali Tanoli:

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  • AmericaMac
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:15AM

    @Ali Tanoli: Nice job comparing the greatest force for overwhelming good (the American army) to Hitler… Maybe you should brush up on your history a bit before posting such ignorant comments. Additionally, keep in mind these soldiers have been subjected to life-threatening conditions that neither you nor I could EVER possibly understand. They’ve seen their closest comrades-in-arms overtaken by these scum… they’ve spent days wondering whether it would be their last… It’s impossible to know how you would react in a situation like that when you’re mental sanity is stretched to its very last thread at all times.

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  • jsblue
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:19AM

    AMEN! I couldnt have said it better myself!

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  • John Smith
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:22AM

    Funny how Afghans and Pakistanis don’t seem to protest when the Taliban behead people, or mutilate women for going to school or for blowing up churches – but if a Koran is accidentally burned, or some stressed out dumb soldiers urinate on a dead terrorist… why then it’s riots in the streets!

    The US should get out of Afghanistan and let the barbarian hypocrites kill each other.

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  • Ben Garlow
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Everybody seems outraged over the conduct of the soldiers.
    Where’s the outrage over the conduct of the suicide bombers?

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  • Bill cowdell
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Bc. As a former Vietnam veteran I’d recommend all the bleeding hearts
    Out there REMBER one thing, we didn’t start this war. As far as I’m concerned
    It’s an eye for an eye, kill or be killed situation. No quarter given,none expected.
    As always the enemy can cut off heads, rape or what ever else they choose to do
    To journalists and prisoners an military personal. When we act in like fashion we
    Become the bad guys. Give me a break. Do unto others as you would have done to you.
    I be leave they threw the first stone. I’ll stand in front of,or behind or with our troops any day
    With pleasure.

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  • jsblue
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:47AM

    @Pakistan politics:
    As an American, i’m not being convinced by what your seem to being trying to convince us of. Weather 9/11 was due to your people or not, saying things like “may earth quake shaken your lands, and your hearts.” and ” If I were a relative of anyone murdered by invaders, I would spend every last breath seeking revenge.” (not that i wouldn’t too) but that vengeful attitude is what keeps the world stereotyping you all as religious fanatics with backwards thinking. What I find frustrating is the way your country treats our soldiers. Throwing things at them, shooting at them, killing them. We dont sensationalize these things enough. We as Americans are ALWAYS held responsible. I’m sorry we don’t hang them in the town square for your pleasure, but these STUPID soldiers lives will NEVER be normal again. (and a DISHONORABLE discharge is enough for future employers alone to scoff at, crippling their futures and causing them to always struggle. Not that thats ALL they have coming to them, because really that’s just the tip of the iceberg!!) What I find questionable is the way you people treat your own! These things are published by OUR OWN to show were not all like that and that we as americans find these INDIVIDUALS despicable. Because THAT IS NOT WHAT OUR MILITARY REPRESENTS. We hold our own, and ourselves accountable. so obviously this anger of yours that we ” believe that the rest of the World shouldn’t know about what’s happening over there” is not true. Otherwise we wouldnt be having the conversation right now, would we? Were not just fighting for our freedom were fighting for EVERYONES freedom. So please, keep reading.

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  • Hassan
    Apr 19, 2012 - 1:19AM

    All those who think its normal In any war are not only sick but also part of it. NO wonder afghans hate you more than stupid talibansRecommend

  • Mandeep Vaid
    Apr 19, 2012 - 1:49AM

    Army soldiers with their post modern weapons are lawfully licensed professional killers.

    The perverted and brutal acts of the above soldiers are the result of combat stress reaction and battle fatigue.

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  • A retired Army officer
    Apr 19, 2012 - 2:19AM

    @Abid P. Khan:

    you are ignorant. Our military is an instrument of our foreign policy. Our foreign policy is in place to achieve the goals of our government. We pursue actions overseas in many ways to protect our interests; be they financial, political or otherwise.

    Other nations have acted in similar manner when they had broad reaching interests.

    Again, love the warrior, hate the war. The United States went into Afghanistan to eliminate or reduce the threat posed by terrorists who attacked our sovereign interests on our soil. Such an act if done by a foreign government would have been tantamount to an act of war. Terrorists harbor no national allegiance. OTOH, to allow them to fester in your country provides the unspoken “blessings” of that country. If you don’t like us in your country than don’t condone terrorists that operate, train, and seek refuge in your country. The United States government reserves the right to protect its people and its interests in any manner it sees fit, as provided by our Laws. Enough said. Have a nice day.

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  • A retired Army officer
    Apr 19, 2012 - 2:28AM

    @Abid P. Khan:

    How many Saudi based citizens trained and/or had ties to the Afghanistan “sanctioned ” Taliban, who trained and executed the attack on the WTC.

    The United States’ response to the WTC attack is far short of what some, including the Taliban, say is permissible based on the Koran. Who is the greater evil; the United States, or those that hide behind their religion to strike out at innocents?

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  • ather khan
    Apr 19, 2012 - 2:29AM

    very sad and offensive picture for whole humanity. but i think afghans will find someway to blame pakistan even for this.

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  • shakir
    Apr 19, 2012 - 3:34AM

    also from the SAME news source – US pays 50,000 USD per villager killed. Makes you wonder if there isnt a filter on what is actually being reported here –

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/03/us-pays-compensation-of-50000-per-villager-killed-in-shooting-rampage.html

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  • Indian Troll Interceptor
    Apr 19, 2012 - 7:01AM

    Hate how all the Indian and American comments get loads of recommendations while the Pakistani comments get hardly any. Makes you wonder who is reading this newspaper.

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  • Apr 19, 2012 - 7:58AM

    @Crystal:
    Americans stand behind their soldiers and proud Afghan in front of them; resisting occupation forces who have come there to win “heart & mind” read “hydrocarbons and minerals of the region”.

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  • Arnav
    Apr 19, 2012 - 8:31AM

    even these terrorist killed/behead many others peoples.. so its like tit for tat..kudos to US army

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  • J.Ahmed
    Apr 19, 2012 - 9:16AM

    Depicts a sick mindset, totally sick

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  • Ahsan
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @Cautious:

    Nothing wrong with the US soldier. The Whole US nation are like this.

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  • Ahsan
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:13AM

    @Pakistan politics:

    Good One. but i belief the Iran will destroy Israel and US becouse, the whole US nation are insane.

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  • Ahsan
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:19AM

    @AmericaMac:

    Not only the US army but the whole US nation is worst then the hitler’s army you guys will be crushed by Iran. and your whole nation will be destroyed.

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  • Maria
    Apr 19, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Iraq was all about the oil. Afghanistan is all about the poppy. When is it going to be about people?! Stop the killing. Get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Leave them alone.

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  • josh
    Apr 19, 2012 - 7:45PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    dont blam us for what a few do

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  • Me
    Apr 19, 2012 - 8:04PM

    @Ahsan:

    Have you been here? How can you judge our sanity based on what you are presented with to read.

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  • Ahsan
    Apr 20, 2012 - 9:11AM

    @Me:

    I lived US for more then 15 years in marryland, Washington, Knoxville and i now the people and nation as a whole. Belief me they dont deserve to live in this world they are terrorist and the worst nation of this planet. Iran should not only destroy US but they should destroy the whole US nation

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Apr 20, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Muslims and the Islamic world’s leaders are showing the most ever greatest effrontery by seeing all this like the silent spectators and despite having the abilities of doing every thing and defending the muslim world and the muslims there is nothing going to be done in this regard only due to disunity because this is the greatest dilemma and tragedy of the Islamic world and the muslims that they are declaring another muslims “the terrorists” and the muslims are killing the muslims on the name of fake terrorism and killer muslims are martyrs and the killed muslims are murdered.
    The most especially importantly doing so is the only basic right of the US’ troops.

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