Two Navy SEALs face murder probe
Army sergeant Melgar was found dead on June 4 in the embassy housing he shared with the duo in Mali capital
Navy criminal authorities are investigating whether two members of the elite SEAL Team 6 strangled an Army Green Beret in June while they were in Mali on a secret assignment, military officials say.
Staff Sergeant Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, was found dead on June 4 in the embassy housing he shared in the Malian capital, Bamako, with a few other special operations forces assigned to the West African nation to help with training and counterterrorism missions.
His killing is the latest violent death under mysterious circumstances for US troops on little-known missions in that region of Africa. Four US soldiers were killed in an ambush this month in neighbouring Niger while conducting what was initially described as a reconnaissance patrol but was later changed to supporting a much more dangerous counterterrorism mission against Islamic militants in the area.
Reputation at stake
The Navy SEALs’ potential involvement also raised the prospect of a highly unusual killing of a US soldier by fellow troops, and threatened to stain SEAL Team 6, the famed counterterrorism unit that carried out the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
Melgar’s superiors in Stuttgart, Germany, almost immediately suspected foul play, and dispatched an investigating officer to the scene within 24 hours, military officials said.
Agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command arrived soon after and spent months on the case before handing it off last month to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
No one has been charged in Melgar’s death, which a military medical examiner ruled to be “a homicide by asphyxiation”, or strangulation, said three military officials briefed on the autopsy results. The two Navy SEALs, who have not been identified, were flown out of Mali shortly after the episode and were placed on administrative leave.
The biggest unanswered question is why Melgar was killed.
No official conclusion
Neither the army nor the military’s Africa Command issued a statement about Melgar’s death, not even after investigators changed their description of the two SEALs from “witnesses” to “persons of interest”, meaning authorities were trying to determine what the commandos knew about the death and if they were involved.
Those who knew Melgar described him as a soldier’s soldier — he deployed to Afghanistan twice on training missions between July 2014 and February 2016, according to his Army service record — and a devoted father of two sons, 13 and 15, who texted and talked via Skype multiple times a day with his wife while serving overseas.
Melgar is scheduled to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 20.