A former decorated US Army commando has been charged with murder for allegedly tracking down and killing a suspected bomb-maker in Afghanistan in 2010 after the man was released from custody.
Army Lt. Col. Loren Bymer said in a statement Friday that Maj. Mathew Golsteyn is charged with killing the Afghan during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.
Bymer said Golsteyn’s commander determined there was sufficient evidence to charge the former Army Green Beret with the crime.
Golsteyn, who was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops at the time, believed that the bomb-maker, known only as Rasoul, was responsible for an explosion that killed two US Marines – Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27, and Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson, 19.
The new charges will be reviewed to determine if the case should go to trial.
The Golsteyn case has been bounced around since 2011 when he told the CIA during a polygraph test in a job interview that he had shot and killed the man in February 2010 in Marjah.
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn has been charged with murder for allegedly tracking down and killing a suspected Afghan bomb maker known as Rasoul on February 22, 2010
Golsteyn, who was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops at the time, believed that the bomb-maker, known only as Rasoul, was responsible for an explosion that killed two US Marines – Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27, (left) and Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson, 19 (right)
The Army Criminal Investigation Command, acting on information from the CIA, looked into the incident, but could never find anyone to corroborate Golsteyn’s claim and couldn’t find any remains of the Afghan national, possibly because they were burned in a trash pit.
According to an Army investigation report, Golsteyn buried the victim in an unmarked grave, then dug up the corpse, carried it back to the base and burned it in a trash pit.
CID, however, concluded the soldier committed the offenses of murder and conspiracy based on the interview provided by the CIA and moved to reprimand him, according to an Army memo.
The Army revoked Golsteyn’s Special Forces designation and the Silver Star he was awarded for heroism during a Taliban attack on his base in Helmand Province.
Two years later, Golsteyn appeared on a Fox News special called ‘How We Fight,’ in which he told host Brett Baier that he killed the Afghan because letting him go would have led to additional problems.
He said: ‘You realize quickly that you make things worse. It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed.’
Golsteyn (pictured) was awarded the Silver Star after fighting in Afghanistan in 2010, but was later stripped of the medal and ejected from the Special Forces
Golsteyn’s interview on Fox News breathed new life into the case and reportedly prompted the CID to reopen the investigation.
According to testimony and documents, Golsteyn led about 80 troops in a four-hour firefight in the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in February 2010.
He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he helped evacuate a wounded Afghan soldier and directed airstrikes against the Taliban, which earned him the Silver Star medal.
In November 2011, about two months before being promoted from captain to major, Golsteyn told the CIA during a polygraph test that on February 22, before that medal-winning battle, he shot and killed the bomb-maker whom he blamed for the explosion that killed the Marines.
He recounted that the day after that explosion in a bazaar, two Afghan men walked up to the US military compound with a third, bound Afghan who they said was responsible, according to testimony. Rasoul was released when no bomb-making material was found.
Soon after, the alleged bomb-maker was shot while walking along a path in Marjah, according to testimony.
The Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, acting on the CIA’s tip, could find no one who corroborated Golsteyn’s claim to have killed the bomb-maker, nor could it find any cremated remains of the Afghan.
Despite that, investigators said ‘Golsteyn committed the offenses of murder and conspiracy based on the interview provided by the CIA,’ according to the September 29 memo.
Golsteyn’s case has been bounced around since 2011, but was reopened in 2016 after he appeared on Fox News and said he killed the Afghan
Golsteyn was never charged with a war crime, and the 2015 board of inquiry didn’t attempt to establish whether he actually killed the Afghan. Instead, the panel considered whether he should be retained as an Army officer based on a reprimand in his personnel record.
The board determined he was guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and he was discharged.
Speaking to NBC News on Thursday, Golsteyn blamed the Fox News interviews for his new legal troubles, but he stood by his comments to Baier.
He also insisted that he did nothing wrong on that day in February 2010 in Afghanistan.
‘I have had commanders look me in the face and tell me I have done nothing wrong,’ Golsteyn said.