An Afghan police officer accused of killing two Marines and wounding four others during an attack last year in Helmand province told investigators he was motivated by “God’s will,” according to a report outlining the incident.
Second Lt. Mohammad Daoud was a member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police when he opened fire May 12, 2011, on Marines assigned to an ANCOP training team, the report says. Lt. Col. Benjamin Palmer, 43, died after being shot in the chest from about 8 feet away as he ate dinner. Sgt. Kevin Balduf, 27, was killed moments later.
Daoud survived the firefight and was taken into custody shortly after the shooting.
The report, dated June 1, 2011, was obtained by Marine Corps Times through the Freedom of Information Act. The report highlights an ongoing threat in which Afghan troops or those wearing Afghan military uniforms turn their weapons on the coalition troops tasked with training them.
The case remains under investigation, according to a June 4 letter accompanying the report, compiled by Marine Corps Forces Central Command.
The incident occurred at a police training compound in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. The shooter fired on Marines with an AK-47 assault rifle while they were eating dinner, Marine officials determined.
“Completely surprised by the vicious attack, the Marines began returning fire with their M9 service pistols,” the report said. “The enemy shooter immediately withdrew while continuing to engage the Marines, wounding yet another Marine.
“The Marines fired and maneuvered on the enemy shooter, who had moved to a covered position. Eventually, the Marines wounded him enough that he collapsed and stopped returning fire.”
Daoud, the alleged shooter, later told investigators with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service that he is not connected to Al Qaida or the Taliban, and shot the Marines as part of his own personal “Jihad,” or holy war.
“He stated it was ‘God’s will’ to kill the Marines because they kill women and children,” the report said. “Further, he stated that those who sent the ‘Colonel that died by my hand’ are responsible. Additionally, Lieutenant Daoud stated it was just ‘luck’ which Marines he shot and that he felt lucky that he killed and wounded so many.”
Palmer was assigned to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. He served as commander of Cherry Point’s 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion in 2010, when elements of the unit deployed to Afghanistan as a provisional infantry security force.
Balduf was assigned to 8th Communications Battalion, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan, and had deployed previously to Iraq.
The report was shared with family members of the fallen Marines, said Amy Balduf, Sgt. Balduf’s widow.
The details about the accused shooter were difficult to read, especially because the attack occurred while the Marines were taking a break inside the training compound and not wearing body armor, she said.
“To hit somebody when they’re at their weakest, he’s just a coward,” she said. “That’s all I’ll ever think of him.”
The first anniversary of the attack was difficult, Amy Balduf said. She and the sergeant met in 2006, and had two daughters together. Stephanie is now 7, and Eden is 5. Both girls sleep with stuffed toy bulldogs wearing Marine Corps camouflage, and Eden sleeps in her father’s cammies “to help keep the monsters away,” her mother said.
“It’s a lot of ‘I miss my daddy,’” she said. “At first, it was a lot of, ‘When is Daddy coming home?’ Now they understand that Daddy isn’t coming home.”