An explosion at a U.S. base in Syria in April that injured four U.S. troops is now being investigated as an insider attack and a U.S. service member has been identified as a possible suspect, a new report revealed Monday.
The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) have been actively investigating the explosion for the past two months and, now believe the attack was carried out by an insider at the base. The Associated Press reported a U.S. service member has been identified as a possible suspect in the attack.
In a statement provided to the Associated Press, CID spokesman Patrick Barnes said the suspect is back in the United States. CID and OSI are continuing to gather information.
Barnes did not release the suspect’s name and no charges have been filed at this time. The motive for the attack remains unclear.
On April 7, an explosion rocked the Green Village base in the Deir ez-Zor province of eastern Syria. Officials from Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, initially believed the explosion was the result of indirect fire from an attacker outside the base. In a revised assessment in April, U.S. officials determined someone had actually brought and detonated an explosive inside the base.
The explosion hit an ammunition holding area. Four U.S. service members were evaluated for minor injuries as well as possible traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Two support buildings were damaged as a result of the blast.
U.S. forces have encountered other insider attacks throughout fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many insider attacks are known as “Green on Blue” incidents and occur when a member of host nation’s forces (“green” forces) attack U.S. or coalition personnel (“blue” forces). It is less common for U.S. forces to intentionally attack each other or sabotage their own bases and installations.
In June 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Army Pvt. Ethan Melzer with sharing information about the location of an upcoming deployment location, movements, and security – to the occult extremist group known as the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A) as well as a purported member of Al Qaeda ahead of his unit’s upcoming deployment to Turkey. Federal prosecutors say Melzer was an adherent of O9A’s ideology and plotted to open up his own unit to an ambush.
Last year, the U.S. Navy brought charges against a junior enlisted sailor for intentionally setting fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) leading to 63 injuries and such extensive damage to the ship that the Navy decided to instead to scrap the ship rather than pursue an estimated $3 billion repair. Navy prosecutors allege the sailor, Seaman Ryan Mays, was disgruntled about failing out of SEAL training and being reassigned to the ship.