Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation
of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.
all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast —
and have requested a trial by court-martial.
Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had
the bloody lip to prove it.
of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.
a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully
failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.
Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.
Petty Officer Julio Huertas,
SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.
Neal Puckett, an attorney representing
McCabe, told Fox News the SEALs are being charged for allegedly giving the detainee a “punch in the
“I don’t know how
they’re going to bring this detainee to the United States and give us our constitutional right to confrontation in the courtroom,” Puckett said. “But
again, we have terrorists getting their constitutional rights in New York City, but I suspect that they’re going to deny these SEALs their
right to confrontation in a military courtroom in Virginia.”
The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on Dec. 7. Another three SEALs —
two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged.
FoxNews.com obtained the official
handwritten statement from one of the three witnesses given on Sept. 3, hours after Abed was captured and still being held
at the SEAL base at Camp Baharia. He was later taken to a cell in the U.S.-operated Green Zone in Baghdad.
The SEAL told investigators he had showered after the mission, gone to the kitchen and then decided to look in on the detainee.
"I gave the detainee a glance
over and then left," the SEAL wrote. "I did not notice anything wrong with the detainee and he appeared in
Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, spokeswoman
for the special operations component of U.S. Central Command, confirmed Tuesday to FoxNews.com that three SEALs have been charged in connection with the capture of a detainee. She said their court martial is scheduled for January.
United States Central Command
declined to discuss the detainee, but a legal source told FoxNews.com that the detainee was turned over to Iraqi authorities,
to whom he made the abuse complaints. He was then returned to American custody. The SEAL leader reported the charge up the chain of command, and an investigation ensued.
The source said intelligence
briefings provided to the SEALs stated that "Objective Amber" planned the 2004 Fallujah ambush, and "they
had been tracking this guy for some time."
The Fallujah atrocity came to
symbolize the brutality of the enemy in Iraq
and the degree to which a homegrown insurgency was extending its grip over Iraq.
The four Blackwater agents were
transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Insurgents burned
the bodies and dragged them through the city. They hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.
Intelligence sources identified
Abed as the ringleader, but he had evaded capture until September.
The military is sensitive to
charges of detainee abuse highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The Navy charged four SEALs with abuse in 2004 in connection with detainee treatment.