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Killing of Iraqi Civilians Index

Killings Database – Year 2004



The Killing of Naser Ismail



Media Reports

Government Reports

Photo Credits


Background - Balad, January 3rd, 2004


“[…] An Army staff sergeant was acquitted of murder Thursday in the death of an unarmed Iraqi he said he shot to save a fellow soldier. A jury of four soldiers and two officers deliberated for less than three hours before finding Staff Sgt. Shane Werst not guilty of premeditated murder. He had faced a maximum of life in prison without parole. […] Prosecutors said the killing of Naser Ismail, a suspected insurgent, was in retaliation for an Army captain's death earlier that day. Werst, 32, said he shot Ismail only because he was lunging for an unsuspecting soldier's weapon during house raids in Iraq. Prosecutors declined to comment after the verdict. Werst testified Thursday that he does not regret shooting Ismail, but acknowledged his actions afterward in making the slaying look like self-defense were wrong. […] After shooting Ismail, Werst said he quickly fired the Iraqi pistol into a couch and told the other soldier, Pfc. Nathan Stewart, to put the man's fingerprints on it. […]”


Excerpt of an Associated Press article from May 27th, 2005.

The accused: Shane Werst


Media Reports


May 28th, 2005 - Acquitted Soldier Enjoys Taste of Freedom, Cigar

1 news article by the Orange County Register


May 27th, 2005 - Soldier Acquitted in Shooting of Iraqi

1 news article by the Associated Press


May 25th, 2005 - Witness: Iraqi Was Cooperating Before Death

1 news article by the Associated Press


May 23rd, 2007 - Judge Allows Testimony in Soldier’s Trial

1 news article by the Associated Press


November 25th, 2004 - U.S. Soldier Charged with Murder of Iraqi Citizen

1 news article by Cable Network News



Government Reports


Court-Martial of Shane A. Werst


February 28th, 2006 - Court-Martial Record - Shane A. Werst - Volume 1

Record of the U.S. Army Judiciary (5,1 MB)


“[…] General Court-Martial Order - Number 12 - 30 August 2005


“Staff Sergeant Shane A. Werst, U.S. Army, Division Troops Company, Special Troops Battalion, Support Brigade, 4th lnfantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Hood, Texas 76544, was arraigned at Fort Hood, Texas, on the following offenses at a General Court-Martial convened by the Commander, 4th lnfantry Division (Mechanized).


“Charge I. Article 118. Plea: Not Guilty. Finding: Not Guilty.


“Specification: Did, at or near Balad, Iraq, on or about 3 January 2004, with premeditation, murder another, by means of shooting him with a rifle. Plea: Not Guilty. Finding: Not Guilty.


“Charge ll. Article 134. Plea: Not Guilty. Finding: Not Guilty.


“Specification 1: Did, at or near Balad, Iraq, on or about 3 January 2004, wrongfully endeavor to impede an investigation and influence the actions of two others, by directing them to alter their statements regarding the murder of another. Plea: Not Guilty. Finding: Not Guilty.


“The findings were announced on 26 May 2005. All rights, privileges, and property of which the accused has been deprived of by virtue of these proceedings will be restored. By Command Of Major General Thurman […]”


“The Article 32 Investigation in this case of United States v. SSG Shane A. Werst, Headquarters Company, 4th, Infantry Division, (Mechanized), Fort Hood, Texas, opened at 0920 hours, 21 January 2005, at the 4th Infantry Division Courtroom Building 410, Fort Hood, Texas 76544. […]


“The following witness for the Government was called, sworn, and testified in substance as follows: SA Matthew T. Elliott, 48'h MI Detachment, Fort Carson, CO


“Direct Examination


“I have been with CID for 2 M years. I have worked a variety of larceny, sexual assault and death cases in Fort Carson. Previously, I was stationed in Bamberg, Germany, as a military police soldier. This case began at Edmonds Army Community Hospital where PFC Stewart told his psychologist about the act that occurred in lraq. COL James A. Polo contacted CID with a report of a possible war crime that occurred in lraq. He did not disclose anything other than the soldier had reported to him that his squad had possibly committed a war crime in lraq.


“SA Armstrong and I went off post to get PFC Stewart’s statement. A rights advisement was not initially given, he made a statement against self-interest, and then we continued the interview after advising him of his rights. We took a sworn statement - both handwritten by him and then typed in summary by me.


“In his narrative, PFC Stewart describes raids that occurred in the area of Balad, Iraq, and his and other’s actions during them. He described separation of an lraqi insurgent from the last house they went to that night. SSG Werst and PFC Stewart were alone with the insurgent in a back room where SSG Werst stated that he was going to kill the ‘mother-fucker’. PFC Stewart and SSG Werst began to hit the Iraqi, Naser Ismail. At this time in the interview, CID gave PFC Stewart a rights advisal. PFC Stewart said that he had hit the lraqi with his Maglite. SSG Werst told PFC Stewart to stop hitting him and to pull Mr. lsmail to his feet. As PFC Stewart got Naser lsmail to his feet, 2 or 3 rounds were shot off by SSG Werst and the lraqi remained on his feet. SSG Werst shot a few more times, the lraqi fell to the floor but was still breathing, so SSG Werst fired more shots into ismail's body and he finally quit breathing. […]”


February 28th, 2006 - Court-Martial Record - Shane A. Werst - Volume 2

Record of the U.S. Army Judiciary (9,7 MB)


February 28th, 2006 - Court-Martial Record - Shane A. Werst - Volume 3

Record of the U.S. Army Judiciary (4,8 MB)



Photo Credits




1) Shane Werst at his court-martial at Fort Hood - May 2005 - L. M. Otero/Associated Press;


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