FORT BRAGG, N.C. – An Army sergeant charged in a deadly grenade attack on his comrades wrote in his diary that his fellow soldiers were mistreating him, and that once he was sent to Iraq, "I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible," a jury was told Thursday.
An FBI agent read four passages to the 15-member jury before the prosecution rested its case in the court-martial of Sgt. Hasan Akbar (search). His lawyers are scheduled to begin calling witnesses in their insanity defense Monday.
Akbar, a Muslim convert, is accused of ambushing his fellow soldiers in their tents at an encampment in Kuwait in March 2003, during the opening days of the Iraq war. Two U.S. officers were killed.
Prosecutors have said Akbar told investigators he was worried U.S. forces would harm fellow Muslims in the Iraq war. They are seeking a premeditated murder conviction, which carries a possible death penalty.
In the entry dated Feb. 4, 2003, Akbar referred to mistreatment by his fellow soldiers:
"I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me. Perhaps they feel that I will not do anything about that. They are right about that. 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."
Another entry said: "I will have to decide to kill my Muslim brothers fighting for Saddam Hussein (search) or my battle buddies. I am hoping to get into a position so I don't have to take any crap from anyone anymore."
Elsewhere, he wrote: "I may not have killed any Muslims, but being in the Army is the same thing. I may have to make a choice very soon on who to kill."
The entries were found on a computer Akbar had put in a rented storage unit near Fort Campbell (search) in Kentucky before he was sent off to the Middle East with fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division.
Akbar's lawyers contend their client was incapable of premeditating the attack because he suffered from mental illness that began early in life — after his sister was sexually abused by a relative.
Defense attorneys have said Akbar was especially worried about talk among soldiers concerning alleged plans to rape Iraqi women. The defense had the jury hear a diary entry of Akbar overhearing such talk.
Killed in the attack were Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, who was shot in the back, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, who suffered 83 shrapnel wounds. Another 14 soldiers were injured.
The court-martial is the first time since the Vietnam War that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime.