Local News

Soldiers decry video showing taunting of Iraqi children

Posted May 21, 2010 4:57 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2010 8:24 p.m. EDT

— Soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg expressed concern Friday about a video that appeared on Facebook showing two young Iraqi boys apparently being taunted by a U.S. soldier.

The 30-second clip shows the two boys standing side by side on a dusty road, and the photographer asks them if they're gay and engage in homosexual acts. The boys smile and nod, but it's unclear whether they understand English.

"Are you going to grow up to be a terrorist? Yeah! All right! Cool! Yeah, terrorists! Woo!" the photographer says.

The boys smile and give a thumbs-up signal.

"Are you going to plant IEDs?" the photographer asks. "Yeah, awesome!"

The older boy apparently realizes at this point that they are being mocked, and he holds down the younger boy's arm.

The video was posted May 14 on the Facebook page of Robert Rodriguez and titled "future gay terrorists."

Rodriguez describes himself on Facebook as a soldier living in Fairbanks, Alaska. An Army spokesman said a Spc. Robert Rodriguez is stationed at Fort Wainwright, outside of Fairbanks.

It's unclear whose voice is heard on the video, but in posting the video to Facebook, Rodriguez wrote, "I was bored in Iraq. So I kept myself entertained."

A North Carolina soldier who also is based in Alaska subsequently shared the video with friends on his Facebook page, and a concerned area resident alerted WRAL News.

"The conduct portrayed in video is disgraceful and clearly inconsistent with the high standards we expect of every Soldier. The incident is currently under investigation. The Army will take appropriate action based on the findings of the investigation," Maj. Bill Coppernoll, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army in Alaska, said in a statement Friday.

Army Staff Sgt. Veronica Jones, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, called the video a case of "stupidity and boredom" that shouldn't reflect on most military members.

"Somebody took advantage of those kids because they don’t speak English. That’s sad," Jones said.

"(This is) not a representation of soldiers," she said. "Not at all. I know plenty of soldiers who would not do anything like that."

Pfc. Steve Dvorak said soldiers in Iraq have a lot of down time, which sometimes can lead to problems.

"(It's) a bored soldier filming a video trying to pass the time because he’s probably not doing the job he’s enlisted to be doing,” Dvorak said. "I don't think most soldiers are like that, but I mean, you have to understand the frustration, what everybody's going through right now."

WRAL News sent a link to the video to Army officials at Fort Bragg, but they hadn't commented on it by Friday afternoon.

Efforts to contact Rodriguez and the North Carolina soldier who shared the video have been unsuccessful.

Rodriguez changed the settings on his Facebook page late Thursday or early Friday, so the video is no longer accessible to the public.