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Killings Database – Year 2004



The Murder of Qassim Hassan in Al-Thawra



Media Reports

Government Reports

Image Credits


Background - August 18th, 2004


“A U.S. Army staff sergeant who shot an unarmed, wounded Iraqi teenager to put the youth ‘out of his misery’ pleaded guilty to murder Friday and was sentenced to three years in prison. Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne Jr., 30, admitted that he killed Qassim Hassan, 16, after his unit attacked a group of Iraqis on Aug. 18 in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City. Horne said the teenager was so badly wounded that he would have died anyway. ‘I wanted to end his suffering,’ Horne said during a court-martial trial in Baghdad. ‘With my weapon I fired a shot to his head. His attempts to breathe ceased.’ U.S. military prosecutors did not call any of Hassan’s relatives or Iraqis to testify Friday at the trial and sentencing hearing. In interviews with The Times in October, family members, including people who witnessed the shooting, said that Hassan’s wounds were not serious and that his life could have been saved with medical attention. […]”


Excerpt of a Los Angeles Times article from December 11th, 2004.

Sketch of the murder scene


Media Reports


January 15th, 2005 - US Soldier Found Guilty of Murdering Iraqi Teenager

News article by Agence France Presse


December 11th, 2004 - U.S. Soldier Pleads Guilty in ‘Mercy’ Killing of Iraqi

News article by the Los Angeles Times



Government Reports


April 5th, 2006 - Court-Martial Record - Jonathan J. Alban-Cardenas - Volume 1

Record of the U.S. Army Judiciary (7,8 MB)


“[…] Staff Sergeant Jonathan J. Alban-Cardenas, [redacted] U.S. Army, C Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team/10th Mountain Division, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas 76544, was arraigned at Fort Hood, Texas, on the following offenses at a General Court-Martial convened by Commander, 1st Cavalry Division.


“Charge I: Article 118. Plea: Guilty. Finding: Guilty.


“The Specification: In that SSG C.J.A. [sic], US Army, did, at or near Al Thawra, Baghdad, Iraq, on or about 18 August 2004, with premeditation, murder Mr. Q.H. by means of shooting him with a rifle. Plea: Not Guilty, but Guilty to the lesser-included offense of unpremeditated murder in violation of Article 11 8, UCMJ. Finding: Not Guilty, but Gullty to the lesserincluded offense of unpremeditated murder, in violation of Article 118, UCMJ.


“Charge II: Article 81. Plea: Guilty. Finding: Guilty.


“The Specification: In that SSG C.J.A. [sic], US Army, did, at or near Al Thawra, Baghdad, Iraq, on or about 18 August 2004, conspire with SSG J.M. H., Jr., and 2LT E.J.A. to commit an offense under the UCMJ, to wit: murder of Mr. Q. H, with premeditation, by means of shooting him with a rifle, and in order to effect the object of the conspiracy, the said SSG C.J.A. [sic] did shoot the Mr. Q.H. with an M231 Port Firing Weapon. Plea: Not Guilty, but Guilty to the lesser-included offense of unpremeditated murder in violation of Article 118, UCMJ. Finding: Guilty, except the words ‘with premeditation’; to the excepted words, Not Guilty.




“Sentence was adjudged on 14 January 2005: Reduction to the grade of E1; to be confined for one year; and, to be discharged from the service with a Bad-Conduct Discharge. The sentence is approved and, except for the part of the sentence extending to a Bad-Conduct Discharge, will be executed. The portion of the sentence pertaining to confinement has been served. […]”


April 5th, 2006 - Court-Martial Record - Jonathan J. Alban-Cardenas - Volume 2

Record of the U.S. Army Judiciary (10,7 MB)


“General Court-Martial […] Tried at Camp Al-Tahreer, Baghdad, Iraq on 14 January 2005. […]


[Interrogation of Jonathan Alban-Cardenas by military judge:]


MJ: At this time, I want you to tell me why you're guilty of the Specification of Charge I?


ACC: Yes, ma’am. On the night of the 17th of August, we are conducting route security over Route Predators. Around midnight, Bravo Section for my platoon engaged a truck. We immediately, after that, created a perimeter around the truck that was engaged. Once we established our perimeter, one of Bravo Section left the site to link up with a tank platoon further north, because they needed assistance over there. So that left only one section and two squads on the ground over by the track. Like, half an hour after we established security and a perimeter, Sergeant Horne came to my track, and he was looking for my lieutenant.


MJ: Who is your lieutenant?


ACC: Lieutenant Anderson. He talked to me about an injured Iraqi that was - he described him, saying he was severely wounded, that he was really hurt, and that there was nothing we could do about him, and that he wasn’t going to let him stay like that, and that he was going to take him out of his misery - put him out of his misery. So, I was pulling security and so I just told him, ‘Hey, do what you’ve got to do.’ Then he left. He turned around and went back to the truck site. I was concerned about how long we were staying there, so I went back - I went to the ground. At this time, it was my Bradley just pulling security. I went to the ground, to link up with - to try to find Lieutenant Anderson and Sergeant Horne. I found Sergeant Horne. He showed me this guy that he was talking about that - that verified pretty much what he was talking about, the injuries and everything. I asked him - I asked him what the lieutenant had said about it, and told me that the lieutenant said to go ahead and do it. Well, I was afraid - we were taking too long - we were staying there too long, and I just - I just told Sergeant Horne to shoot the guy, to put him out of his misery, if he had the courage enough to do that. So I approached the casualty on the ground and was standing, like, seven feet away. I aimed my weapon towards his body, and squeezed my trigger and put a burst of about, like, three rounds or so into the body laying on the ground. Then, immediately after that, I just turned around and went back to the track.


MJ: So you fired three rounds towards the torso?


ACC: Yes, ma’am.


MJ: Why did you shoot there?


ACC: Because that's the way we were taught to shoot, ma’am.


MJ: Do you mean when you’re taught to shoot - when you shoot somebody in the torso, why are you taught to shoot there?


ACC: Because that’s considered to be center mass, ma’am.


MJ: Okay, and, when you shoot someone - you said that you’re taught to shot there. When you’re taught to shoot there, what is the intent of the shot?


ACC: The intent is to kill, ma’am.


MJ: So, when you want to kill somebody, you’re taught to shoot in the torso?


ACC: Roger. That’s center mass, and it’s a bigger target for you, and you’re taught to shoot to kill, ma’am.


MJ: Now, what was your intent when he shot him in the torso?


ACC: To end his life, ma’am.


MJ: Okay, and you said that you turned and walked away afterwards. Did you think that you had ended his life at that point?


ACC: Yes, ma’am.


MJ: Why?


ACC: Because - I mean, I intended to do that, and I had seen the damage that just one round, one 5.56, can cause. I shot three, because of the type of weapon that I had. I had a port-firing weapon, which is the same caliber as an M-16, but it’s just an automatic - a full automatic. There were three rounds, which would be more force than one, especially into the torso. […]”


Image Credits


1) Sketch of the murder scene - Court-Martial Record, Jonathan Alban-Cardenas, Volume 1, page 3800, Exhibit - September 18th, 2004 - Printed by Herman A. Vanderhorst;


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