The Navy will not bring new chages against retired U.S. Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher over comments he shared in a May podcast appearance in which he described his units intentions to kill a captive ISIS fighter.
Gallagher was previously acquitted of charges he murdered the captured 17-year-old ISIS fighter Khaled Jamal Abdullah during a 2017 deployment. Gallagher maintains his innoncence in Abdullah’s death. During his May 4 appearance on the podcast “The Line,” Gallagher discussed the case and said, “The grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us [Gallagher’s unit] and that nobody at that time had a problem with it.”
On Tuesday, Politico reported that after the Navy reviewed Gallagher’s new comments they had decided not to try to bring new charges against the retired SEAL. Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told Politico, “No substantive information was found to merit an investigation based on those statements.”
During his podcast remarks, Gallagher said, “We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him, everybody was on board. It was to do medical scenarios on him until he died.”
Gallagher described his unit as “nursing him to death” adding “He was going to die regardless.”
“Everyone was, like, let’s just do medical treatments on him until he’s gone,” Gallagher said.
While admitting that his unit intended for the ISIS fighter to die, Gallagher maintained his innocence of the claim he stabbed the captive fighter in the moments leading up to his death, a key allegation in the original charges brought against Gallagher.
“I didn’t stab that dude,” Gallagher said. “That dude died from all the medical treatments that were done and there’s plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.”
Gallagher said one of the medical procedures he did, a cricothyrotomy or “cric” which involves creating an incision in a patient’s Adam’s apple to establish an airway, was, “Just for practice. I was practicing to see how fast I could do one in.”
Gallagher said he never described his unit’s decision to practice medical scenarios on the captive ISIS fighter to investigators in his original war crimes case.
In a June 15 interview with Military.com, Gallagher reportedly said that while medical procedures were all done for practice purposes and not necessarily to save the ISIS captive’s life, he denied any of the medical procedures were against the captive’s medical interests or would have hastened his death.
In May, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that the Navy was investigating Gallagher’s new comments. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Gallagher could have faced perjury charges.
The Navy’s decision not to press new charges against Gallagher come on the same day as the release of his book “The Man in the Arena: From Fighting ISIS to Fighting for My Freedom,” which details his side of the events in his 2017 deployment to Mosul, Iraq and the ensuing legal battle to clear his name of the war crimes charges.
Following his acquittal on July 2, 2019, Gallagher retired from the Navy. Gallagher has since gone on to found the Pipe Hitter Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to provide financial and legal support, advocacy, and public affairs support for accused military service members and first responders.