Steven Green is standing trial for the murder of Abeer Kassem al-Janabi and her family. The details are horrifying. (Trigger warning on those links and the rest of this post).
Green has pleaded not guilty to killing 14-year-old Abeer. The crime he is accused of is nearly unimaginable:
Prosecutors have said Green was the triggerman among a group of soldiers who attacked the family March 12, 2006 near Mahmoudiya, Iraq. They said he shot 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi’s parents and 6-year-old sister, then was the third to rape the teen before shooting her in the face several times
There doesn’t seem to be a question of whether Green participated in the gang rape and murder or Abeer, and the murder of her family. The issue is his role in the crime, and his culpability:
Defense attorneys have asked jurors to consider the “context” of war surrounding Green, painting a picture of young soldiers in harsh wartime conditions, lacking leadership and receiving little help from the Army to deal with the loss of friends.
…yeah, not buying it.
On the one hand, I do think it’s fair to place some amount of blame on the “context” — and by “context,” I mean the U.S. military and Green’s superiors. When we dehumanize Iraqis, torture with impunity and build a military industrial complex that relies on brute violence (and often sexualized, hyper-masculine constructions of violence) for supremacy, we shouldn’t be surprised when individual soldiers do really terrible, sexually violent things to the people they have branded sub-human. But of course, “we shouldn’t be surprised” doesn’t translate into “we shouldn’t punish them.” I hope Green and the other men who raped and killed Abeer and murdered her family rot in jail for a long, long time.
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