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Airman charged for insider bombing attack that hurt 4 US troops

Staff Sgt. David Dezwaan (left), 60th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, during an exercise May 5, 2016, at Clear Lake, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings)
August 04, 2022

The U.S. Air Force has charged an Airman in connection with an insider bombing attack at a U.S. base in Syria in April that left four U.S. service members wounded, the Air Force announced Thursday.

The Air Force has charged Tech. Sgt. David W. Dezwaan with reckless endangerment; dereliction of duty; destroying military property; accessing a government computer with an unauthorized purpose; obtaining classified information; and aggravated assault, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told American Military News on Thursday.

It is not yet clear what possible motive Dezwaan may have had for carrying out the attack.

Dezwaan is an explosive ordnance disposal technician currently assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Dezwaan enlisted in 2007 and his decorations include the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The charges come more than a month after the Air Force announced it had arrested a U.S. airman in connection with the April attack. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) spokesman Patrick Barnes said the suspected service member had been brought back stateside while investigators continued to study the incident.

On April 7, U.S. forces at Green Village — a U.S. base in eastern Syria — took cover from what they believed at the time was indirect fire from outside the base. Officials initially reported two rounds of artillery fire inside landed inside the base.

Four U.S. troops were injured in the attack. The explosions also damaged an ammunition holding area and shower facility on the base. 

While officials initially thought the attack came from outside the base, investigators later determined the evidence showed a “deliberate placement of explosive charges by an unidentified individual(s)” indicating someone had brought the explosives onto the base to carry out the attack.

A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for August
23, at Hill Air Force Base.

The incident is different from the typical insider attacks that have occurred throughout the Global War on Terror. Insider attacks typically involve foreign partner (green) forces firing on (blue) U.S. personnel in what are known as “green-on-blue” attacks.

While “green-on-blue” attacks have occurred throughout U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. personnel intentionally attacking their own colleagues is less common.

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) and a purported member of Al Qaeda. Federal prosecutors say Melzer was an adherent of O9A’s ideology and plotted to expose his own unit to an ambush.