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Second Navy SEAL charged in connection to ISIS prisoner execution by knife

The 2009 National Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. (Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Casullo/U.S. Navy)
October 25, 2018

A second Navy SEAL has been charged with war crimes connected to the blade-style execution of an ISIS prisoner in 2017.

Lt. Jacob Portier, who is accused of helping cover up the crime, will also face an Article 32 hearing to determine if enough evidence exists to move the case to court-martial, according to a Navy Times report on Tuesday.

Portier was not present at the time of the execution, allegedly carried out by Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher.

Gallagher is accused of using a knife to stab a detained ISIS militant multiple times, which eventually resulted in the prisoner’s death. The incident took place in 2017 in the city of Mosul.

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Portier, who served as Gallagher’s platoon leader, has been charged with dereliction of duty. He was not present during the ISIS prisoner’s death, but alleges he was told of the incident and reported it to superiors. It is not known whether or not Portier actually knew of the incident earlier.

He “forwarded the allegation up the chain of command so the matter could be investigated. Lt. Portier went so far to seek legal advice from the Naval Special Warfare Group ONE Staff Judge Advocate who stated they needed a sworn statement before they could investigate,” according to Portier’s defense attorney Jeremiah J. Sullivan III.

Sullivan is confident that Portier will be exonerated over his role of reporting the misconduct to superiors. “Lt. Portier’s combat service to our country warrants a medal, not a charge sheet,” Sullivan said.

More arrests and charges are possible as authorities continue war crimes investigations for Navy SEALs’ conduct in Mosul during 2017 and 2018.

So far, Gallagher is the only SEAL to be sentenced to confinement ahead of his trial. He faces premeditated murder charges and drug charges, as well as additional aggravated assault charges for a separate incident in which he allegedly shot Iraqis that were deemed “non-combatants,” although Gallagher insists they were combatants.

Gallagher also faces three charges of obstruction over accusations of covering up war crimes for an extended period of time. Authorities say he “discourage[d] members of his platoon from reporting his actions while in Iraq during his deployment.”

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After their return to the U.S., Gallagher is also accused of calling on his unit to stay quiet about the incident with the ISIS prisoner.

Gallagher has served 19 years in the Navy, 14 of which he spent as a SEAL. He holds three awards for combat valor, including two Bronze Stars and a Commendation Medal. He also holds two additional commendation medals from the Navy and Army.

Gallagher’s attorney Phillip Stackhouse insists “we’ve learned in our independent investigation into these allegations is that a crime simply didn’t happen.”