March 21, 2011 — -- Two U.S. soldiers already accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport are seen in newly published photographs apparently posing over a victim -- images the Army called "repugnant to us as human beings."
The two images, published today by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, appear to show two American soldiers standing over the same Afghan civilian who lies bloody on the ground. The Afghan's face is blurred, but one of the Americans is smiling.
The photographs depict "actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army," the Army said in a statement. "We apologize for the distress these photos cause... When allegations of wrongdoing by Soldiers surface, to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated. Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate."
In September, ABC News obtained a video of 22-year-old Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock casually telling military investigators how his unit's "crazy" sergeant randomly chose three unarmed, innocent victims to be murdered in Afghanistan. Morlock is one of the soldiers identified by Der Speigel in the newly published photographs.
In the other picture, Private First Class Andrew H. Holmes is shown holding the head of the same civilian, identified by Der Spiegel as Gul Mudin.
"The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our Soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations," the Army's statement said.
Daniel Conway, Holmes' attorney, said Sunday that Holmes was ordered "to be in the photo, so he got in the photo. That doesn't make him a murderer," according to a report by The Associated Press.
The Army had attempted to squash the photos through court motions, but Der Spiegel was able to obtain them from a family member of one of the soldiers allegedly involved.
Five soldiers with the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, of the 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis-McChord, Wash., were charged in connection with the murders, allegedly led by Staff Sergeant Calvin R. Gibbs.
Morlock has agreed to plead guilty to murder. His court martial is scheduled for this week. Gibbs reportedly maintains the killings were legitimate.
CLICK HERE to read Der Spiegel's report.
Soldier: Sergeant 'Just Really Doesn't Have Any Problems With F---ing Killing These People'
In charging documents released by the Army, the military alleged that the five soldiers, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spec Adam C. Winfield, Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II, Holmes and Morlock were involved in one or more of three murders that took place between January and May of 2010.
On the tape, obtained by ABC News, Morlock admits his role in the deaths of three Afghans but claims the plan was organized by Gibbs, who is also charged with pre-meditated murder.
"He just really doesn't have any problems with f---ing killing these people," Morlock said on tape as he laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action. "And so we identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?"
The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.
"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Morlock told the investigators.
Soldier Says His Squad Leader Collected 'War Trophies'
Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers.
The corporal said he opened fire as directed, fearful of not following Gibbs' orders.
"It's definitely not the right thing to do," Morlock told the investigators. "But I mean, when you got a squad leader bringing you into that, that type of real, that mindset, and he believes that you're on board with that, there's definitely no way you wanted him to think otherwise."
The investigator asked Morlock, "Because you felt maybe the next shot might be coming your way?"
"You never know. Exactly," answered Morlock. "I mean Gibbs talked about how easy it is, people disappear on the battlefield all the time."
In addition to murder, the Army's charging documents allege rampant drug use in Morlock's unit, as well as the dismemberment of dead Afghan civilians.
In the video, Morlock describes how Sergeant Gibbs allegedly collected the fingers of some of his Afghan victims.
"It's his thing now," said Morlock. "I don't know, his crazy stuff. War trophies, whatever."
Morlock said Gibbs boasted of carrying out similar murders in Iraq but was never caught and threatened the men in his unit with harm if they refused to participate or revealed what was happening.
"If Gibbs knew that I was sitting in front of this camera right now, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd f---ing take me out if he had to," Morlock told the Army investigators.