HTS “Contractor” Who Murdered Afghan, Now in Custody, Awaiting Trial (plus Stanton’s sixth article on the Human Terrain System)

UPDATED Nov. 21-22, 2008:

See the formal indictment here.

and see

Contractor who shot Afghan stands trial
November 20, 2008

DOD contractor charged in death of Afghan man
Jeff Schogol
Stars and Stripes, November 22, 2008

U.S. charges defense contractor with Afghan killing
Matthew Barakat
Associated Press, November 20, 2008

Contractor Charged With Murder in Afghan’s Death
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008; Page B05

U.S. Contractor Charged with Slaying
UPI, November 20, 2008

U.S. contractor charged in Afghan’s death
Adam Levine
CNN, November 20, 2008

Army ‘Human Terrain’ Contractor Charged with Murder
November 20, 2008


This is the newest and sixth article on the Human Terrain System by John Stanton. Previous articles by John Stanton on the Human Terrain System can be found here, here, here, here, and here. It is reproduced on this blog with the permission of the author.

My question arising from this article is this: Why has Ayala, a foreign civilian charged with murdering an Afghan, not been turned over to the allegedly sovereign government of Afghanistan? Has the government of Afghanistan agreed to have foreign civilians who can be armed and who can pursue local targets? In fact, how is the government of Afghanistan involved in any way with this case?

Stanton seems to be sympathetic to the plight of Ayala. I can certainly understand the irrational rage that would have overcome Ayala having seen his colleague set on fire. I can certainly understand the rage of the Afghan who set Paula Loyd on fire. While the latter appears to have been a premeditated attack (possibly by a child if one believes Taliban claims), I doubt that Ayala engaged in cold-blooded calculation, although there appears to now be reason to believe that. Ayala was clearly wrong to act, and the soldiers that presumably were in the company of this Human Terrain Team were wrong not to stop him, assuming that they did nothing to impede him. Ayala has murdered an Afghan civilian, in what may in fact be a war crime, and there is no way that he can be released until justice is served.


17 November, 2008

Guantanamo Treatment for US Civilian Human Terrain Team Member

by John Stanton

Don Ayala of Human Terrain Team AF‐4 Blue is being held in detention at Bagram AB in Afghanistan under excruciating circumstances. The Commanding General, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, 101st Airborne Division and Lieutenant Colonel Roger Neil reportedly control Ayala’s legal fate and are responsible for the quality of Ayala’s treatment while incarcerated. According to sources, Ayala is receiving treatment akin to that of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, enemy combatants. He is apparently being denied limited or any form of due process under US military or US civilian law.

Ayala is imprisoned, according to sources, for allegedly tracking down, shooting and killing an Afghani national that doused fellow Human Terrain Team member Paula Loyd with flammable liquid and set her to flames. They report that Ayala is being kept in solitary confinement in a cage, not a cell, that does not meet US military or US federal government standards. Ayala is reportedly in leg irons and is harassed nightly by non‐military police personnel assigned by 101st Airborne Command.

Ayala was allegedly held for four days before being allowed to talk to his lawyer or anyone in his chain of command. He has not been allowed to use shower facilities on a consistent basis, sometimes as long as a three day period. He is not allowed any exercise, socialization or entertainment privileges and remains under a 24‐hour‐a‐day watch.

Sources allege that the fair hearing to determine confinement or protective custody was pure theater. They also indicate that the US military may have no legal jurisdiction over Ayala due to details involved in deployment and chain‐of‐command orders.

Reportedly the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) has the ability to assert jurisdiction. USDOJ has thirty days from incident report date in order to do so or the case will remain in the lap of the US military. Sources indicate that Ayala has not been assigned military counsel (due to venue matters) and the cognizant military magistrate determined that he should remain incarcerated at Bagram AB.

Human Terrain System management has derailed and wrecked the train. When will they be held accountable?

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political in national security matters. Reach him at

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