Rules Of Engagement

Shortly before noon on March 6, 2007, Small Kill Team leader Michael Barbera rose from his squad's position in high grass in a palm grove here and shot two teenage cattle herders. A short time later, the Army staff sergeant ordered his soldiers to kill a third teenager walking toward them. Barbera would report to his superiors that the three dead boys were insurgents operating out of this farming village about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad.


In reality, Ahmad Khalid al-Timmimi, 15, his brother, Abbas, and their cousin, Muhamed Khaleel Kareem al-Galyani, both 14, were unarmed deaf mutes with no known ties to the insurgency. Their slayings angered most members of Barbera's squad — decorated combat veterans who reported the killings to Army investigators in Fort Bragg, N.C. Those soldiers believed Barbera's actions triggered two reprisal suicide bombings at their combat outpost that killed 10 of their fellow paratroopers in the 5th Squadron of the 73rd Cavalry Airborne Reconnaissance Regiment.


In late 2010, several of Barbera's former soldiers asked the Tribune-Review to get answers about what happened to a secret Army probe into their allegations. In a two-year investigation, a Trib reporter traveled to Fort Bragg, across the United States and into an area of Iraq vacated by American troops to find out what happened. Classified documents provided to the Trib eventually revealed what no soldier or Iraqi villager knew: Army investigators recommended that Barbera face charges, including two counts of murder. But Barbera was never brought to court.

No prison time for Army Sgt. Barbera for phone threat against reporter's wife

TACOMA, Wash. — Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, who professed innocence on his social media sites, pleaded guilty Thursday to threatening the wife of ...

Murder charges dropped against sergeant who shot 2 unarmed Iraqi boys

Murder charges against Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera in the 2007 shootings of two deaf, unarmed brothers in Iraq have been dropped — at least ...

Pentagon tries to challenge unwritten code of silence among troops

Three months before then-Army Staff Sgt. Michael Barbera was accused of fatally shooting two unarmed and deaf Iraqi boys in March 2007, a survey found ...

'Motivation' lacking in Barbera case, investigating officer says

TACOMA, Wash. — The investigating officer overseeing the Army's Article 32 preliminary hearing for Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera said he heard "very little" prosecution ...

Army recon leader charged with murders of two Iraqi boys says he doesn't kill "for no reason"

TACOMA, Wash. — Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, accused of killing two unarmed Iraqi teenagers, said Monday he does not kill innocent people. "I do ...

Magnified view through rifle scope could assess threat posed by Iraqi boys, experts say

TACOMA — The scope on the M-4 rifle that Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera is accused of using to fatally shoot two Iraqi boys might ...

In hearing for Army Sgt. Barbera, soldier recalls no threat from Iraqi teens who were slain

TACOMA — An investigating officer can ask questions during an Article 32 hearing, which determines whether someone in the military should receive a court-martial. ...

Retired Army sergeant explains delay in reporting Iraqi boys' shooting deaths

TACOMA, Wash. — If he had it to do over, retired Army Sgt. Ken Katter said on Friday, he would have acted differently in how ...

Rules of engagement at issue in Iraqi boys' slayings

TACOMA, Wash. — Army Brig. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas testified on Thursday that if a Small-Kill Team's reconnaissance position in the field was compromised, he ...

'Nightmare' killing of 2 Iraqi youths detailed during military hearing

TACOMA, Wash. — A former radioman for an Army Small-Kill Team testified on Wednesday that he saw then-Staff Sgt. Michael Barbera look through his M-4 ...

Hearing to determine fate of sergeant accused of killing 2 deaf Iraqi boys

TACOMA, Wash. — Two high-profile attorneys will clash on Wednesday when a military hearing begins to determine whether Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera should face ...

American soldier charged in Iraq killings of deaf, unarmed teens

An Army small-kill team leader is charged by military investigators with two counts of murder in the fatal shootings of two deaf, unarmed Iraqi youths ...

Department of Justice urged to refile charges in 2007 deaths of Iraqi boys

AS SADAH, Iraq — The Department of Justice has legal authority to review criminal charges the military declines to prosecute, as in the case of ...

Five-year legacy of Iraq mission gone awry

AS SADAH, IRAQ - Staring over the barrel of his machine gun, Dary Finck had the shot. But the U.S. Army private first class refused ...