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Navy jury acquits 3rd SEAL of assaulting accused Iraqi terrorist

Blackwater security guards killed in Fallujah 3-31-04, burned and hung from a local bridge

A decorated Navy SEAL was acquitted Thursday afternoon of punching an Iraqi terrorist after his capture by a trio of American commandos.

The case involved Ahmed Hasim Abed, the suspected mastermind of the 2004 capture of four civilian Blackwater guards, their torture, mutilation and murder (see photo above). Last yea, in a mission codenamed Operation Amber, a team of SEALs captured Abed and turned him over to Iraqi authorities.

Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe of Ohio

Abed later claimed to Iraqis that he had been punched by the Americans after his capture, receiving a bloody lip.

Three SEALs were then charged in a case that aroused intense emotion stateside as a modern-day story of political correctness gone awry:

In Norfolk, Va., on Thursday, it took the jury less than two hours to find Petty Officer 2d Class Matthew McCabe not guilty of assault, dereliction of duty and lying to investigators.

Defense attorney Haytham Faraj suggested Abed used a standard terrorist technique of biting his own lip to produce blood and feign injury from his captors.

“We're here,” Faraj said, “because a mass murderer, a vile person cloaked in a human body, claims he was beaten."

The 24-year-old decorated Ohioan told Bret Baier of Fox News: “It’s been troubling at times, having your career on the line, and life on the line at times, has not been easy to handle.”

McCabe's two fellow SEALs, who were charged with covering up the alleged assault, were also acquitted by a military judge in Iraq last month.

McCabe thanked his colleagues and the public for their support. "It’s done and over with," he told Fox, "I am going to try and never think about it again, just move on.”

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press; Fox News Special Report (McCabe).

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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