Abeer Hamza PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 September 2009 05:04

 Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

Born: August 19, 1991, Al-Mahmudiyah,Iraq

Died: March 12, 2006, Al-Mahmudiyah, Iraq

Age: 14

Cause of death: Gang rape and gunshot wound.

Notable because: Her murder resulted in Steven Green of the 101st Airborne becoming the first ex-soldier to be charged under a US law that allows prosecution for crimes committed overseas for the rape and murder that occurred in Mahmudiyah in 2006, when Green was 21 in an incident which above all others illustrates America's Iraqi legacy.

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi  an Iraqi girl who, at the age of 14, was gang-raped and murdered together with her 6-year-old sister, mother and father, in their home, by U.S. soldiers who then set fire to the girl's body before decamping.

Abeer Hamza lived with her mother and father (Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, 34, and Qassim Hamza Raheem, 45, respectively) and their three other children, a daughter - 6-year-old Hadeel Qassim Hamza, a son - 13-year-old Mohammed and his younger brother. Their house was situated approximately 200 meters (220 yd) from a six-man U.S. traffic checkpoint, southwest of the village of Yusufiyah, which lies west of the larger township of Al-Mahmudiyah (in the coalition-termed area "Triangle of Death").

According to her neighbours, Abeer spent most of her days at home as her parents would not allow her to go to school because of security concerns. The American soldiers would often watch Abeer from their checkpoint, doing her chores and tending the garden. The neighbours had warned Abeer's father of this but he replied it was not a problem as she was just a small girl.

Abeer's brother Mohammed (who survived along with his younger brother due to being at school at the time of the killings) recalls that the soldiers often searched the house. And on one such occasion PFC Steven Dale Green ran his index finger down Abeer's cheek, which had terrified the 14 year old girl.

Abeer's mother told her relatives before the murders that, whenever she caught the soldiers staring at Abeer, they would give her the thumbs-up sign, point to her daughter and say "Very good, very good." Evidently this had concerned her and she made plans for Abeer to spend nights sleeping at her uncle's (Ahmad Qassim's) house.

On March 12, 2006 the soldiers (from the 502nd Infantry Regiment) at the checkpoint had been drinking alcohol and discussing plans to rape Abeer. In broad daylight they walked to the house (not wearing their uniforms) and separated Abeer and her family into two different rooms. Steven Green then murdered her parents and younger sister, while two other soldiers raped Abeer. He then emerged from the room saying "I just killed them, all are dead". He then raped Abeer, shot her in the head and proceeded (along with the other soldiers) to set fire to the house and bodies.

The neighbours were among the first to discover the scene. One recalled "The poor girl, she was so beautiful she lay there, one leg was stretched and the other bent and her dress was lifted up to her neck."

According to the affidavit written by the FBI in support of an arrest warrant for Steven Green, the accused discussed raping the girl in the days preceding the event. On the day in question, five soldiers of the six-man unit responsible for the checkpoint left their posts for the Qasim farmhouse. Four of the soldiers were alleged to have directly participated in the attack, while a fifth (PFC Howard) acted as lookout.

A sixth soldier, SGT Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failing to report the attack but was not alleged to have been a direct participant. The charge was later dropped in exchange for an "other than honorable" discharge.

The affidavit goes on to state that the soldiers entered the house and ordered Abeer's father, mother and sister into another room where Green summarily shot all in the head, emerging to say, "I just killed them, all are dead." As the rest of the family was shot in the other room, Abeer was held down to the floor by another soldier. After killing the other family members, Green and at least one other soldier raped Abeer, and then Green shot and killed her.

Based on reports, after the rape the lower part of Abeer's body, from her stomach down to her feet, was set on fire. The fire eventually spread to the rest of the room and the smoke alerted neighbors who ran to tell Abu Firas Janabi, Abeer's uncle, that the farmhouse was on fire and that dead bodies could be seen inside the burning building. Janabi and his wife rushed to the farmhouse and doused some of the flames to get inside. Upon witnessing the scene inside, Janabi went to a checkpoint guarded by Iraqi soldiers to report the crime.

The Iraqi soldiers immediately went to examine the scene and thereafter went to a checkpoint manned by U.S. soldiers to report the incident. This was a different checkpoint than the one manned by the accused. After approximately an hour, some soldiers from the checkpoint went to the farmhouse. These soldiers were accompanied by at least one of the accused.

Green and the other soldiers who participated in the incident told the Iraqi army soldiers who arrived on scene immediately after the incident that it had been perpetrated by Sunni insurgents. These Iraqi soldiers conveyed this information to Abir's uncle who viewed the bodies. This prevented the event from being recognized as a crime or widely reported amidst the widespread violence occurring in Iraq at that time.

On June 22, 2006, the rape and the murders came to light when Pfc. Justin Watt (of the same platoon) revealed them during a psychological health counseling session he received consequent to the killings of two other soldiers of the 502nd Regiment.

Green had been honorably discharged from the Army on May 16, 2006, before the crime was recognized, due to an "antisocial personality disorder". The FBI assumed jurisdiction for the crime committed by Green under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act[20] and charged him with the killings.On July 11, the Mujahideen Shura Council (now a part of the group, Islamic State of Iraq) released a graphic video showing the bodies of PFC Thomas Lowell Tucker and PFC Kristian Menchaca, soldiers from the same unit as the accused, who were allegedly kidnapped, tortured and beheaded. This was accompanied by a statement saying that the group carried out the killings as "revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade."Steven Green on operations in Iraq in 2005

The Washington Post reports that Charles Babineau and two comrades from the same unit were captured and killed by militants a month after the rape.Local Iraqi officials, and American officials, denied the killing of the GIs was an act of retaliation -- in spite of a video of the men's killing that described it as an act of retaliation.

It also said that upon learning of the rape/murder, the group "kept their anger to themselves and didn't spread the news, but were determined to avenge their sister's honor." A statement issued along with the video stated that "God Almighty enabled them to capture two soldiers of the same brigade as this dirty crusader." Other militant groups made various claims or statements announcing revenge campaigns after the killings were reported on 4 July, when the US investigation into the incident began.

Green was discharged from the 101st Airborne before the case came to light.

He was the first ex-soldier to be charged under a US law that allows prosecution for crimes committed overseas.

On July 4, Jaysh al-Mujahidin claimed downing a US Apache "in retaliation for the child, Abir, whom US soldiers raped in Al-Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad."

On July 12, the Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb near the entrance to the Green Zone in Baghdad, in support of the "Abir operations" targeting the "evil den in the Green prison".


Green is currently challenging his convictions, claiming that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act is unconstitutional and that he should face a military trial.


Green grew up in Seabrook, Texas, and moved to Midland, Texas, when he was 14. According to school officials, he dropped out of high school in 2002 after completing the 10th grade and moved to Denver City, Texas, where he earned his high school equivalency in 2003. Days after a January 2005 arrest for alcohol possession, Green enlisted in the U.S. Army. In doing so, he was granted a moral character waiver for prior alcohol and other drug related offenses that might have otherwise disqualified him. Green graduated from Infantry Training Brigade and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. According to a military spokesperson and a criminal complaint filed in connection with the charges, Green was honorably discharged from the military "due to antisocial personality disorder but before the military was aware of the incident." Green was stationed in Iraq from September 2005 to April 2006 and discharged in May 2006.

Bryan L. Howard

Private first class Howard was sentenced by a court martial under a plea agreement to dishonorable discharge and 27 months imprisonment for obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact. The court found that his involvement included hearing the others discussing the crime and lying to protect them, but not commission of the actual rape or murders.

Howard was given a dishonorable discharge, received a 27 month sentence, and is currently on parole.

Jesse V. Spielman

Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman

On August 3, 2007, Private first class Spielman, 23, was sentenced by a court martial to 110 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years. He was convicted of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with intent to rape and four counts of felony murder. Spielman had earlier pleaded guilty to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

Spielman is currently held in the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Justin Watt

Watt was the whistleblower, he received a medical discharge and is now running a computer business. Claims he has received threats since coming forward.

Anthony Yribe

Initially Yribe was charged with obstructing the investigation, specifically, dereliction of duty and making a false statement. He negotiated an "other than honorable discharge" and the dropping of the charges against him in return for his testimony against the other men.





Abeer Qassim Hamza at the age of seven.

Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi

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Last Updated on Sunday, 21 March 2010 12:34

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