U.S. wants to exhume alleged rape victim in Iraq

TIKRIT, Iraq – U.S. investigators have asked Iraqi authorities to help them navigate cultural sensitivities to exhume the body of a teenager allegedly raped and then murdered with her family by American soldiers, a military official said Saturday.

U.S. Maj. Mark Wright said U.S. authorities are aware that Islamic tradition has strict rules governing exhumation and could require religious leaders to become involved in the investigation.

“You want to be aware of these cultural issues while at the same time making sure that the accused receives proper justice,” said Wright, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Muslim tradition generally frowns on exhumations, considering them desecration of the remains.

However, Ahmed Taha, the uncle of the dead teen, said Thursday that relatives were eager to cooperate with investigators and would allow them to exhume the body of the alleged rape victim, Abeer Qassim Hamza. Her parents and sister were also slain.

Ex-soldier Steven Green was arrested last week in North Carolina and has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder.

Four soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment have been taken to a U.S. military camp in Baghdad for questioning, Wright said. He would not say if those soldiers had been arrested, but another U.S. official said Saturday that several more soldiers would soon be charged.

Elsewhere in Iraq, three U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi woman translator were killed in separate incidents Saturday, while the country’s largest Sunni Arab party appealed to authorities to end a military crackdown in Sunni villages northeast of Baghdad.

The three Americans were assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which has some attached Army units, and died in fighting in the western province of Anbar, the U.S. military said.

They were the first U.S. fatalities reported in Iraq since Tuesday, raising the number of U.S. personnel killed this month to eight. The average of one death a day is down sharply from a rate of more than two a day in recent months.

Iraqi police said the translator was slain in a drive-by shooting in southwestern Baghdad. She worked for the Americans but was off-duty at the time, police Capt. Maithem Abdul-Razaq said.

Interpreters and others working for the Americans have long been targeted by insurgents who accuse them of collaborating with “occupation forces.”

In a statement Saturday, the Iraqi Islamic Party said U.S. and Iraqi troops had surrounded 15 mostly Sunni villages near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, making it difficult for civilians to move around.

The statement called on Iraqi and U.S. forces to allow food and medicine to enter the villages and compensate farmers for damage to their crops.

Last week, the Iraqi military announced operations in the Muqdadiyah area after an increase in insurgent activity. The mostly farm area sits astride a highway between Baghdad and Kurdish areas to the north and is in a province where tensions are high between Shiites and Sunnis.

Iraqi police reported several killings in Baghdad on Saturday and many seemed tied to the animosities between Shiites and Sunnis.

Gunmen opened fire on a Shiite family trying to move out of a religiously mixed neighborhood for the Shiite city of Karbala. Police said five relatives were wounded in the attack in Dora, where sectarian tensions run high.

Also in Dora, gunmen in two cars stopped a vehicle on a street, forced the two passengers to get out and killed them in front of horrified bystanders, police reported.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Fatal 2-car crash closes Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read