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Rolling Stone releases photos in alleged war crime cases of JBLM soldiers

Rolling Stone magazine has published several more grisly photographs related to the war crimes case unfolding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The release comes just one week after a German magazine was the first to publish photos. The Army had sought to keep the pictures under wraps for fear they could trigger a backlash against U.S. troops.

Last week’s photographs showed soldiers posing with a dead Afghan named Gul Mudin. Rolling Stone now reports he was an unarmed 15-year old boy, the first of three victims allegedly killed by members of a rogue platoon from Western Washington.

Rolling Stone has also published an array of previously unseen photos. One shows Mudin face down in a pool of blood. Other pictures show two dead Afghan men tied up with signs around their necks. The magazine quotes an unnamed soldier who says they were farmers killed by soldiers from another platoon, soldiers who have not been charged.

Stjepan Mestrovic is a war crimes expert at Texas A&M University. He testified for the defense at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal trials and says these photographs could create a worse firestorm.

“Because it’s one thing to show photos of people being tortured. It’s another one in terms of Muslim culture to show U.S. soldiers desecrating the bodies of dead Afghans,” says Mestrovic.

A Pentagon statement calls the pictures disturbing and says the Army will, quote, “relentlessly pursue the truth, no matter where it leads … no matter how unpleasant it may be.”

Mestrovic blames a breakdown in Army leadership for the behavior of the soldiers.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.