A decorated US Army soldier has been charged with murder for his role in the death of an Afghan man believed to have built bombs that killed two Marines. The incident occurred in 2010, and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn has been under investigation off and on ever since, but the Army has now changed course and officially charged him with murder.
This is a complex story, and many of the details are heavily disputed, yet Golsteyn has repeatedly owned his role in the killing.
“Golsteyn, who was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops at the time, believed that the bomb-maker, known only as Rasoul, was responsible for an explosion that killed two US Marines – Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27 [below], and Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson, 19,” The Daily Mail writes.
Consider this scenario. Golsteyn, a Green Beret, was deployed with Marines in Afghanistan. He was there when the IED killed the two Marines. He took the loss personally. After intense investigations with the local tribal leaders, and with the help of informants, the Marines identified the bomb maker as a man named Rasoul. He was, Golsteyn contends, found with radios and bomb making supplies.
Rasoul, though, refused to talk. As a result, the Marines held him as long as they were legally permitted to, and then released him.
Golsteyn followed him from the base and killed him.
The decision to kill Rasoul, Golsteyn told Fox, was made to protect the Afghan informants who were working with the Marines.
If Rasoul had made it back to the Taliban, the identities of those informants would have been revealed.
“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,” he said.
Back in the states, Golsteyn interviewed for a job with the CIA in 2011. During a routine polygraph test, Golsteyn admitted that he had killed Rasoul in February of 2010.
The CIA reported to Army Criminal Investigation Command. That agency investigated the allegations, but found no evidence of the murder, and no body.
Yet that didn’t clear Golsteyn. The Army concluded that he killed Rasoul, and buried him. Shortly after, he reportedly returned to the shallow grave and dug up the corpse. He then returned to his base and burned the body in a trash pit.
As a result of Golsteyn’s interview with the CIA, the CID concluded that he should be reprimanded. “The Army revoked Golsteyn’s Special Forces designation and the Silver Star he was awarded for heroism during a Taliban attack on his base in Helmand Province,” DM notes.
That could have been the end of the incident, at least from the Army’s standpoint, but it isn’t.
After the reprimand, Golsteyn appeared on Fox in a special called “How We Fight.” During interviews for that segment, Golsteyn spoke again about the killing. It was that interview and the public discussion of his actions that Golsteyn believes drew the ire of the Army.
After the interview with Fox, the CID reopened its investigation.
Without any corroborating evidence, and without a body, the Army had been unable to charge Golsteyn. They did conclude that “Golsteyn committed the offenses of murder and conspiracy based on the interview provided by the CIA.” This finding was far from a guilty verdict. Though he was reprimanded, he was not charged with war crimes. It seemed that the case had reached a resolution. Five years later, a separate board of inquiry determined that Golsteyn’s conduct was unbecoming of an officer. He was discharged from the Army.
Golsteyn has never disputed his role in the death of Rasoul. And he stands by his actions. “I have had commanders look me in the face and tell me I have done nothing wrong,” Golsteyn told reporters.
Now, though, Golsteyn will have to answer for his actions again.