NORFOLK, Va. — During opening statements Tuesday in Petty Officer Matthew McCabe’s court martial, defense attorney Neal Puckett stated that an oral surgeon would testify that injuries to Ahmed Hashim Abed, suspected mastermind behind the brutal murders of four civilian security guards in Fallujah in 2004, could have been self inflicted.
Puckett also made reference to the “Manchester Manuel” also known as the al Qaeda training manual, in which as HUMAN EVENTS has previously reported directs captured terrorists to complain of torture and self-inflict injuries on themselves.
Puckett asked the members of the jury to remind themselves of specific questions after they see the evidence and deliberate. “How was the detainee treated when he was captured?” asked Puckett. “What does the medical screening completed after show? When were photos taken?”
“The evidence will basically show that the SEALs did something they are trained to do. They were basically serving an arrest warrant,” said Puckett.
McCabe and those on his team were part of Operation Amber, in which a warrant was signed by an Iraqi judge to capture Abed.
“Not only will you believe beyond reasonable doubt,” said Puckett “You are truly going to believe he is innocent.
In his opening argument, Navy prosecutor Lt. Nicolas Kadlec characterized the case as a simple assault.
"It’s a simple case, a simple assault," Kadlec said. "But the case is going to challenge you because the accused is a decorated Navy SEAL."
“It’s a story you just don’t want to believe,” said Kadlec.
Kadlec began his statements by reading segments of the Navy SEAL “ethos.” Kadlec stated that McCabe failed to live up to these standards “when he punched the detainee in the abdomen.”
Jury members heard a nearly three-hour audio testimony of Abed taken in Baghdad.
The defense has said that the accuracy of the translations will be taken up later in the trial. Defense attorney Haytham Faraj, who speaks fluent Arabic, believes the translator did not repeat Abed’s exact answer in many questions.
Abed’s testimony remained the same as what has been reported in the cases of Petty Officers Huertas and Keefe, that he was taken from his home, blindfolded, handcuffed and placed in a helicopter.
Abed says when they landed an American took him into a room. “They started hitting me on my shoulders and my back… I don’t know who did it but it was on my shoulders and my back,” said Abed. “Then he hit me on my stomach with his foot, hard, and I fell to the floor.”
Abed says that he could see through his blindfold that the assailant had bare legs but could not see who it was.
In his testimony, Abed claims that he is not part of al Qaeda or Hamas, but the defense reports that 6,000 American dollars were taken out of his home at the time of his capture as well as a loaded pistol and several forms of identification.
Abed’s testimony on his criminal record in Iraq was also inconsistent.
More witnesses are expected to testify Wednesday, day three of McCabe’s court martial. Presiding Judge Moira Modzelewski expects a verdict to be reached by Friday.