US sailors face Gulf charges

Issue 

By Tom Jordan

Two United States sailors who served on the carrier Ranger during the Gulf War are facing court martial and the possibility of 10 years' imprisonment. The two are being held at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

According to Citizen Soldier, an antiwar GI defence group in New York, they are among at least 1200 service personnel facing charges for acts of resistance to the war. Most cases have received little or no publicity.

Initially, the two were accused of offences including conspiracy to commit sabotage, kidnap and to undermine order and discipline, but they were eventually charged only with making disloyal statements.

"I am a victim of incredible exaggeration, hysteria and paranoia. I truly believe that all of this is happening to me simply because I am a Muslim", airman apprentice Abdul H. Shaheed told the US media.

"My only wish is to separate from the armed forces because of my religious convictions", said his co-accused, 21-year-old seaman apprentice James L. Moss.

They have been charged on the basis of statements allegedly made to one other airman. Defence counsel for the two find it extraordinary that a court martial has been called on such charges and such evidence.

The offence was allegedly committed in mid-January. According to the navy, Shaheed and Moss encouraged sabotage and discussed kidnapping the Ranger's captain to support Saddam Hussein's call for a holy war against the United States.

The two are being defended by navy lawyers, including Lieutenant Victor Bernson, who said "essentially what we are talking about here is disloyal statements. Nothing happened, and the two have denied that they even made the disloyal statements."

Most of the armies involved in the Gulf War experienced acts of desertion and resistance. According to sources in West Germany, between 50 and 100 US soldiers are in hiding there after refusing to go to the Gulf.

In early February, about 75 US soldiers went absent without leave from Fort Hood, Texas, in protest against the war as well as racism and conditions at the base.

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Reprinted from Green Left, weekly progressive newspaper. May

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