Former Taliban commander charged in 2008 with the death of three National Guard soldiers
NEW YORK (AP) – An Afghan man previously charged with the armed kidnapping of a New York Times reporter and another reporter in 2008 was charged with the murder of three US soldiers on Thursday.
A revised indictment against Haji Najibullah accused him of commanding Taliban fighters behind a deadly ambush by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew L. Hilton, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. McKay and Sgt. Marc Palmateer in Afghanistan, also in 2008.
Hilton, 37, from Livonia, Mich., Was assigned to the 425th Infantry Regiment, Michigan National Guard. McKay, 51, from Brooklyn, New York, was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition), New York Army National Guard. Palmateer, 38, from Poughkeepsie, NY, was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition), New York Army National Guard.
The three National Guard soldiers were killed on June 26, 2008, near Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, when their convoy encountered improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades .
The document also alleges that Najibullah helped bring down a US military helicopter in a separate attack later in the year.
A lawyer for Najibullah, detained in the United States, declined to comment on the new charges on Thursday.
Najibullah, 45, was brought to the United States last year face the initial charges including hostage taking, conspiracy and kidnapping. Prosecutors alleged he orchestrated the kidnapping of David Rohde, then with the Times, and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin as they headed for an interview with a Taliban leader.
The two victims escaped dramatically from a Taliban-controlled compound in Pakistan’s tribal areas more than seven months after their November 10 kidnapping, 2008. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, was a third kidnapping victim and s ‘escaped a few weeks after Ludin and Rohde.
An indictment for Najibullah is scheduled for Oct. 15 in federal court in Manhattan. If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment.