Soldier Charged With Murder in Kuwait Grenade Attack

A soldier faces murder charges in a grenade attack at a U.S. camp in Kuwait that killed two officers, the military announced Friday.

The charges against Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar, 32, were filed two days after the March 23 incident at a 101st Airborne Division camp in Kuwait. They were disclosed in a statement from Fort Campbell, home of the 101st.

Akbar is the only person charged in the attack at the command center of the 101st Division's 1st Brigade at Camp Pennsylvania. Fourteen soldiers were wounded. Days later, the 1st Brigade began moving into Iraq.

Akbar is being held at an undisclosed U.S. military facility. Military lawyers assigned to represent Akbar had no comment, the military's statement said.

Dennis Olgin, a retired judge advocate general's corps officer, said the charges carry the death penalty.

Akbar, an American Muslim, told family members he was wary of going to war in Iraq. His mother, Quran Bilal, told The Tennessean of Nashville that she was concerned he might have been accused because he is a Muslim.

Akbar was charged under military law with two counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Akbar was also charged with aggravated arson of an inhabited dwelling and misbehavior as a sentinel while receiving special pay.

Olgin said the 17 attempted murder charges likely include other soldiers in the tents who were not injured.

Killed in the attack were Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pa., and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho.

Akbar, of the 101st's 326th Engineer Battalion, was taken into custody shortly after the explosions and a military magistrate found probable cause that he committed the attack. An earlier statement from Fort Campbell said three grenades were thrown or rolled through the front door of three tents.

Akbar's case has been forwarded to the commander of his unit who has authority to direct an investigation under Article 32 of military law, the post said. An Article 32 investigation is similar to a civilian grand jury. A 30-day delay was granted due to the war in Iraq.

The entire 101st Airborne, a rapid-deployment helicopter assault division of about 20,000 soldiers, is deployed for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.