A U.S. soldier being described as a Muslim and identified as Army Sgt. Asan Akbar, is now in custody for alleged complicity in the grenade and small-arms attack on members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division encamped in Northern Kuwait, which injured 16 soldiers, one of whom has died.
Several others were injured seriously, and three are in surgery.
Two high-ranking U.S. Army sources say Akbar was opposed to the killing of Muslims and opposed to the war in Iraq, according to NBC News.
In addition, two Kuwaitis who had served a translators are being held for questioning, according to CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann, who is imbedded with the 101st.
Strassmann reported that the grenades were rolled into two commanders’ tents. When officers ran from their tents, they were hit by small arms fire, he said.
In an initial statement, George Heath, 101st spokesman at home base Fort Campbell, said: “From our reports it appears that a terrorist penetrated Camp Pennsylvania, one or more terrorists threw two hand grenades into a tent.”
But soon it became apparent that the attack was, as the Pentagon now says, an “inside job.” After a roll call revealed that one soldier was missing on base, he was eventially found hiding. The soldier implicated was reportedly in charge of grenades, according to MSNBC.
Time reporter Jim Lacey told ABC News that he talked to an eyewitness at
the rear base camp who said that grenades were rolled into a tents that
housed the leaders of the brigadier unit. A “terrorist,” the witness told
Lacey, shot the first two people who exited the tent. Sky News reports that a third grendade was rolled into a third tent housing officers, but that it did not explode.
Camp Pennsylvania was named to honor of the victims of plane that
crashed in Pennsylvania during the Sept. 11 attacks. The camp, located
approximately 20-30 miles south of the Iraqi border, is surrounded by
large berms and guarded by armed soldiers, with others in observation
posts watching the desert. The camp is also home to Patriot missile
The U.S. soldier implicated is currently being questioned, and U.S. authorities are tight-lipped about characterizing his possible involvement.
Stuart Ramsay, a reporter with Sky News, says the Muslim soldier had become a concern to his commanding officers.
“In recent days they were concerned about his behavior and were not going to send him up to the front when the soldiers were going to be deployed,” Ramsay said.
It is not clear whether the soldier, who Ramsay said would have been in the Gulf for some weeks, had planned the attack before being deployed.
“Talking to other soldiers, it could be that he was disgruntled,” Ramsay said. “They said he had been acting ‘weird’ for days.”
Lacey, the Time magazine reporter imbedded with the 101st, was in the tent next to the two tents that were the object of the grenade attack. In a phone interview, he told Fox News that the soldier responsible has an “Arabic-sounding” last name. Asked what his explanation of the perpetrator’s motives, he said he believed “it was part of his misguided interpretation of his Muslim faith.”