Steven Dale Green

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Steven Dale Green
Born 1985-05-02
Midland, Texas
Died 2014-02-18
Lexington, Kentucky
Nationality USA
Occupation US soldier
Known for raping and murdering a 14 year old Iraqi girl and her family

Steven Dale Green (born 2 May 1985) is a former Private First Class in the United States Army who was convicted of gang-raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl named Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and murdering her 6-year old little sister, her mother and her father, inside their house in the village of Mahmudiyah. He then set fire to the house before leaving with his 4 accomplices.

Green was charged, and tried in the US civilian justice system, under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.[1] According to CBS News Green was the "first American soldier charged and convicted" under the 2000 Act.

Green's case has been the focus of scholarly examination, held up as an example of how the relaxation of the standards for recruits backfired.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Scholars made the point that Green did not measure up to the usual standards for military recruits. The Bush administration had a policy for only admitting high school graduates who did not have a criminal record.

Biographical details

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 drug and alcohol related offenses that might have otherwise disqualified him.[9] 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."[10] Green was stationed in Iraq from September 2005 to April 2006 and discharged in May 2006.[11] Green was interviewed by Stars and Stripes reporter Andrew Tilghman, while he was embedded with Green's unit. In his final month in Iraq Green played a lead role in a war crime -- the murder of an Iraqi family. His continued presence in the Army was questioned when Army mental health workers determined he had a mental disorder. He subsequently received an early honorable discharge. When Army authorities officially recognized the murder, and Green's role in it, he was no longer under the jurisdiction of the US military justice system. He was then one of the first individuals to face charges in the US civilian justice system, under provisions of the the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. Green was convicted, and sentenced to five consecutive life terms, with no possibility of parole. Prison authorities reported he died after attempting to hang himself in mid February 2014.

Mahmudiyah killings

Green in Iraq

On 30 June 2006, the FBI arrested Green, who was held without bond and transferred to Louisville, Kentucky. On 3 July 2006, United States Federal Court prosecutors formally charged him with raping and killing Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old girl, and with killing her six-year-old sister Hadeel, her father, Qassim Hamza Rasheed, and her mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhasen in Mahmoudiyah, on 12 March 2006. On July 10, the U.S. Army charged four other active duty soldiers with the same crime. A sixth soldier, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, was charged with failing to report the attack, but not with having participated in the rape and the murders.

Green and four other soldiers, Sgt. Paul E. Cortéz, Spc. James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, and Pfc. Brian L. Howard, had planned raping Abeer Qassim Hamza. Pfc. Howard was ordered to monitor radio traffic while the others entered the Hamza family's house. Green ordered the father, mother, and younger daughter to a bedroom and shot them, saying: "I just killed them; all are dead." Green, and at least one other soldier, raped Abeer Qassim Hamza, after which Green shot her in the face two or three times. Five soldiers, including Green, were formally charged with raping the girl and murdering her parents and little sister. Cortéz, Barker, Spielman, and Howard accepted plea bargains.[12]

Reportedly, Fakhariya Taja Muhassain worried that her daughter, Abeer, had attracted the unwanted attention of U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint near their home. She asked her neighbor, Omar Janabi, if she could sleep in his daughter's room at his house. Janabi agreed, but the Hamza family were murdered the next day.[13] Janabi, who said he discovered the Hamza family bodies, found the husband, the wife, and the younger, six-year-old daughter in one room, all shot dead. In another room of the Hamza house, Janabi found Abeer Qassim Hamza's burned body.


On 6 July 2006, Green entered a plea of not guilty through his public defenders. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Moyer set an arraignment date of August 8 in Paducah, Kentucky.[14]

Ruben Gur, director of neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, testified that Green was suffering from brain damage, which would have made him "prone to acting inappropriately in chaotic situations".[15][16]

On 11 July 2006, his lawyers requested a gag order. "This case has received prominent and often sensational coverage in virtually all print, electronic and Internet news media in the world." "Clearly, the publicity and public passions surrounding this case present the clear and imminent danger to the fair administration of justice," said the motion.[17] Prosecutors had until 25 July to file their response to the request.[18]

On 31 August 2006, a federal judge rejected a gag order. U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell said there is "no reason to believe" that Green's right to a fair trial would be in jeopardy. Furthermore he added, "It is beyond question that the charges against Mr. Green are serious ones, and that some of the acts alleged in the complaint are considered unacceptable in our society."[19]

In July 2007, federal prosecutors, led by Brian Skaret of the United States Department of Justice's Domestic Security Section, announced they will be seeking the death penalty for Green. This is based on the fact that prosecutors believe the rape and killings were premeditated, and were committed using a firearm.

The prosecution of this case is unique in that although the alleged crimes were committed by an active member of the United States military, which normally would fall under the jurisdiction of the military court system, Green was indicted and arrested after he had been discharged from the Army. Thus, the case is being tried instead by the United States Department of Justice's Domestic Security Section.

Opening arguments in Green's trial were heard on April 27, 2009.[20] The prosecution rested its case on May 4, 2009.[21] On May 7, 2009, a federal jury convicted Green of rape and murder, for which he could have received the death penalty.[22] However, on May 21, 2009, Green was spared the death penalty when the jury of nine men and three women couldn't come to unanimous agreement on a penalty; as a result, he will receive life without parole.[23] Formal sentencing is scheduled for September 4, 2009.[24]

Some said the jury's indecision may indicate that the public is becoming increasingly aware of combat stress and its effects on soldiers.[25] Green's defense attorneys argued against the death penalty, presenting military witnesses who testified that Green's unit suffered unusual stress and heavy casualties, and had insufficient Army leadership.[24]

Green's Army comrades, who were charged in the US military justice system, also received heavy sentences, Cortez being sentenced to 110 years -- but, unlike Green they were eligible for parole in 2015.[26] Green told the Associated Press that he felt he was being punished more severely than his comrades, since he faced multiple life sentences without parole, whereas they could be released on parole after serving less than a decade.

Green's cultural impact

PhD student Eric D. Torres quoted Andrew Tilghman, a Stars and Stripes reporter who had interviewed Green when he was embedded with his unit, three weeks prior to Green's murder.[2] Prior to the murders, Green told Tilghman about how the first time he killed someone in battle had been a let-down.[3] He described expecting it to be a life-changing experience, and found it wasn't. Tilghman's described how his conclusion was that Green was just another impressionable young man who had been turned into a hardened killer, by battle, with the exception that he was prepared to be candid about how little impact killing had on him, where his peers kept that to themselves. He compared Green with the hero of Catcher in the Rye -- "a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone."

After quoting and paraphrasing Tilghman's impression of Green, in detail, Torres wrote:

"But the description that Green offered and Tilghman recorded of his daily duties will not only remain as a monument to reckless disregard for human life, but as a symbol of the lethality of enthroning procedural discipline as the all-overriding criterion of moral performance."[2]

Adam Lankford, in An Analysis of Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military, 2004-2009, also noted Green's interview with Tilghman.[4] Lankford's paper posited that “systematic promotion of hypermasculinity and overwhelming force may have contributed to U.S. service members’ involvement in sexual assault.” Lankford chose a comment Tilghman quoted Green making, “Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant,” as illustrating that kind of “typical hypermasculine bravado.”

In Using Extraterritorial Jurisdiction to Prosecute War Crimes: Looking beyond the War Crimes Act Anthony E. Giardino points out that Green's crimes met all the criteria for being considered war crimes, and asks: “Why not use the War Crimes Act in a prosecution where it is so clear that a war crime took place?”[5]

According to Acts of War, Bill Cain's play 9 circles was inspired by Green's life.[27]

In Same Ole Or Something New: Uprooting Power ENTRENCHMENT Carolyn LaDelle Bennett offered Green's murders as an instance of "foreigners devaluing Iraqi Life".[6]

CBS News quoted Green's lawyers, after his death, apparently of suicide, that Green had been looking forward to being interviewed by a documentary film-maker.[1]

In "The End of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” Steve Glauser asserted that the US military's policy on forcing gay members of the military to live a double life, and risk blackmail, or a discharge, forced the Department of Defense to resort to moral waivers, like that issued to Green, to allow the recruiting of individuals who didn't meet its minimum standards.[7] Glauser cited Green as an example of a troubled recruit, whose mental health issues would have made him more of a burden to his comrades than working beside an openly gay individual.

Matt Kenard, in Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror, also criticized the US Military for resorting to moral waivers to recruit individuals who fell below their minimum standards.[8] Kennard wrote Green's "journey from criminal to soldier was, however, becoming increasingly common."


Prison authorities reported Green died in February 2014.[1] His death was reported on February 18. Prison authorities said he actually died in a prison hospital on February 15, and that his death was caused by an attempt to hang himself, that had occurred several days earlier. No explanation was provided as to why news of his death, or alleged suicide, had initially been withheld.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Soldier convicted of killing Iraqi family hanged himself in prison". Louisville, Kentucky: CBS News. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02. "Green was the first American soldier charged and convicted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. Signed in 2000, that law gives the federal government jurisdiction to pursue criminal cases against U.S. citizens and soldiers for acts committed in foreign lands." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Andrew Tilghman (2010). "We Know Who You Are! Connecting Education, Identity, and National Security". University of Greensboro. pp. 129-130. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Andrew Tilghman (2006-07-30). "Encountering Steven Green: "I came over here because I wanted to kill people."". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2014-02-06. "Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' "" 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Adam Lankford. "An Analysis of Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military, 2004-2009". Journal of Military and Strategic Studies. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-07. "Although it can be hard to identify all of the perpetrators’ motives with precision, their desire to reassert their power appears to have been a major factor. Green actually revealed his powerlessness and insecurity to a reporter just three weeks before the sexual assault took place: “We’re out here getting attacked all the time,” he explained—“I just want to go home alive.”" 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anthony E. Giardino (2007). "Using Extraterritorial Jurisdiction to Prosecute War Crimes: Looking beyond the War Crimes Act". Boston College Law Review. pp. 29-34. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-07. "Even though Green is a case where charges of rape and murder are amply supported by the evidence, the question remains: Why not use the War Crimes Act in a prosecution where it is so clear that a war crime took place?" Again, pressures from within the executive branch and Department of Justice are likely to blame.24° Refusing to use the War Crimes Act to punish war crimes from the conflict in Iraq avoids setting a precedent that a criminal statute constrains action by the President and the military in prosecuting the war. It also serves to avoid setting a precedent that the law may he used against U.S. government agents for their conduct should it violate the Geneva Conventions." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Carolyn LaDelle Bennett (2010). Same Ole Or Something New: Uprooting Power ENTRENCHMENT. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 28-29. ISBN 9781450086905. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Steve Glauser (2011). "The End of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”". Hinckley Journal of Politics. p. 4. Retrieved 2014-03-08. "Opponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” argue that the men and women allowed in the military under waivers, such as Steven Green, disrupt military effectiveness and hurt unit cohesion much worse than any homosexuals do. They constantly ask, “Why are felons, criminals, high school dropouts and recruits who are unfit to serve allowed in the military but others are not simply because of their sexual preference?”" 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Matt Kennard (2012). Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror. Verso Books. pp. 72-74, 82. ISBN 9781844678808. Retrieved 2014-02. "Testimony during the trial of Green revealed that an amry counselor had called the unit "mission incapable" and recommended that it stop taking on missions due to high levels of stress, anger, and diminished morale." 
  9. David Isenberg (2008-04-26). "Recruiting the Bottom of the Barrel". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2014-03-07. "Still, those who think that worrying about high school dropouts and criminal records is much ado about nothing should remember that on the last day of January 2005, Steven D Green, a former army private accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family, sat in a Texas jail on alcohol-possession charges. He was an unemployed, 19-year-old high school dropout who had just racked up his third misdemeanor conviction. Green had received a moral waiver." 
  10. "Officials: Soldier was discharged for 'antisocial personality'". CNN. 2006-07-05. Retrieved 2006-07-05. 
  11. Allen G. Breed (2006-07-05). "Ex-GI Accused in Iraq Rape Had Rocky Past". Fox News (AP).,4675,ExSoldierCharged,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  12. "U.S. military names soldiers charged in rape, murder probe". CNN. Retrieved 2006-10-20. 
  13. "At Least 12 Killed in Attacks Across Iraq". San Francisco Chronicle. 2006-07-03. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  14. CNN. "Ex-soldier pleads not guilty to rape, murder: Former Army private accused of raping woman, killing family". Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  15. "Witness: Ex-soldier suffered from impulse control issues". NBC News (Paducah, Kentucky). 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2018-02-12. "Ruben Gur, director of neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told jurors Tuesday that former Pfc. Steven Dale Green would be prone to acting inappropriately in chaotic situations because of the brain damage. Gur, testifying for the defense, said the brain damage likely was caused by several head injuries." 
  16. Kevin Davis (2017). The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America's Courtrooms. Penguin. ISBN 9780698183353. Retrieved 2018-02-12. 
  18. "Gag requested in Iraq rape-murder case". CNN. 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2006-10-20. 
  19. AP (2006-09-01). "Judge in Rape-Murder Case Denies Gag Order".,13319,112183,00.html. Retrieved 2006-10-20. 
  20. Barrouquere, Brett (2009-04-27). "Ex-soldier trial for rape, murder in Iraq opens". Daily Mail (AP). Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  21. "Prosecution rests in trial for Iraq crimes". Army Times. 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  22. "Ex-soldier could face death over Iraq murders, rape". CNN. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  23. James Dao (2009-05-21). "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "US soldier escapes death penalty over Iraqi rape and murder". The Daily Telegraph. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  25. Kristin M. Hall (2009-05-22). "Iraq Slaying Verdict Highlights Combat Stress". ABC News. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  26. Brett Barrouquere (2014-02-18). "Ex-soldier convicted of killing Iraqi family dies in prison". Louisville, Kentucky: Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-06. "Three other soldiers. Jesse Spielman, Paul Cortez and James Barker, are serving lengthy sentences in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for their roles in the attack. Each is eligible for parole in 2015." 
  27. Karen Malpede, Michael Messina, Bob Shuman, ed (2011). Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 9780810127326. Retrieved 2014-03-06. "The antihero of Bill Cain's 9 Circles has a character which is "undone" before the play begins. Daniel Edward Reeves was granted a special "moral" waiver to join the army. The play was suggested by the true story of Steven Dale Green, a high school dropout with a trouble emotional history who was in prison on his third misdemeanor charge just days before he was allowed to enlist in an army desperate for recruits." 

External links