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Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan | Full Coverage

Correction to This Article
Earlier online versions of this article misidentified the city that Goodfellow Air Force Base is near.
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Grisly allegations in war-crimes probe of Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs

A group of U.S. soldiers from a platoon in the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, including Calvin Gibbs, stands accused of targeting Afghan civilians for sport.

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"That's all part of the ongoing investigation," said Maj. Kathleen Turner, a base spokeswoman. "Nothing is closed."

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In fact, the investigative reports indicate that the Army is now scrutinizing Gibbs's previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. (He has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.) In particular, they are reexamining a 2004 incident in which Gibbs and other soldiers are alleged to have fired on an unarmed Iraqi family riding in a car, killing two adults and a child.

Several soldiers who served with Gibbs in Afghanistan told investigators that he repeatedly tried to persuade other soldiers to cut fingers off Afghan corpses and that he kept at least two fingers for himself, wrapping them in cloth and hiding them in an empty water bottle. They said he would display the digits when he wanted to intimidate other unit members into maintaining their silence; one soldier said Gibbs claimed he was collecting the fingers to make a necklace.

According to a statement to investigators by Cpl. Emmit R. Quintal, a member of Gibbs's unit, Gibbs once produced a black pair of shears after viewing the badly mangled corpse of a suspected insurgent.

"I wonder if these can cut off a finger?" Gibbs said, according to Quintal.

Quintal said that Gibbs and another soldier sliced off one finger and that Gibbs kept it. (Quintal has been charged with drug use, attempting to impede the investigation and other offenses, but not with murder.)

Later, as the body was taken to an Army base for processing, Gibbs helped a soldier from a different unit, Sgt. Eric J. Skinner, record the corpse's fingerprints and other biometric data. According to a statement from Skinner, Gibbs asked him whether he wanted to cut off a finger from the corpse. When Skinner asked why, Gibbs replied, "Because it would be fun messing with people, like sticking a finger on a care package."

Skinner declined. He told Gibbs the idea was "pretty [screwed] up" but told investigators that "nothing else was said about it."

Breaking the rules

In the yard are two signs featuring an American flag and the words, "God Bless America: We Support the Young Marines." The Gibbses also have a teenage son; neighbors said he is a member of the Marine Corps recruiting program.

Calvin Gibbs is married to another soldier, Pfc. Chelsy M. Gibbs, a member of the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion at Goodfellow Air Force Base, near San Angelo, Tex. She told an Army special agent that she had been in limited contact with her spouse and did not know anything about the killings in Afghanistan.

She said she did recognize a photograph of her husband's pistols-and-skulls tattoo but "did not know when he got them or what they meant," according to the agent's report.

The 5th Stryker Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in July 2009. Gibbs joined Bravo Company in November as a replacement for a wounded sergeant. Soon, he began confiding to his new platoon mates that it had been easy for him to get away with "stuff" during his time in Iraq and floated "scenarios" for how they could do it in Afghanistan, according to statements other soldiers have given to investigators.


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