Father of Accused Sergeant Wants Probe
Apr. 21, 2005
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) _ The father of a black Army sergeant accused of killing two officers in an attack at the start of the Iraq war said his son was in a platoon with soldiers who have tattoos with Nazi, KKK and Confederate Flag symbols.
John Akbar told The Associated Press in a statement Wednesday that Sgt. Hasan Akbar had complained to superiors about threats, slurs and taunts he faced as the only black and Muslim in his platoon.
But he said little was done before the March 2003 grenade and rifle attack in Kuwait that also wounded 14 and he urged the military to investigate the alleged harassment.
``They would mock him while he prayed and say, 'Look at you kissing the ground for your god and praying five times a day. ... You act like them, pray like them, and look like them, so we might just mistake you for one of them.``'
Jurors were to return Thursday for closing arguments and the start of deliberations, a day after testimony concluded in Akbar's court-martial on murder charges. Akbar could get the death penalty if convicted.
The court-martial is the first since the Vietnam era in which an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime.
Lt. Col. Ed Loomis, spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., said there was no investigation of incidents described in the father's statement _ titled ``Concerned Father Seeks Justice For Loved Son'' _ beyond what was happening in the court-martial. He said the division does not tolerate extremist behavior.
Akbar allegedly confessed several times to tossing grenades into the tents of sleeping soldiers and then raking them with rifle fire.
Akbar's lawyers don't dispute his responsibility but are trying to spare him a possible death sentence by portraying him as mentally incapable of premeditating the attack.
The statement from Akbar's father is similar to entries from Hasan Akbar's diary that were introduced by the prosecution to show how he had planned the attack.
``I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me,'' Akbar wrote more than a month before.
``I am not going to do anything about it as long as I stay here. But as soon as I am in Iraq, I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible,'' he wrote.
According to testimony in the court-martial, Akbar was asked at least twice by officers if he had problems with going into Iraq because he is Muslim and Akbar said he did not.