Mali, Africa (TFC)— Africa seems ripe with tales from the depths of US Special Operations these days. This time, two SEAL Team 6 operatives are being looked at for the death of a Green Beret in Mali. Ruled homicide by strangulation, the incident has propagated a wealth of theories online. Could the soldier have been in the wrong place, wrong time? If so, then why?
On June 4th 2017, Green Beret Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar was found dead inside Mali’s US embassy. Although his exact assignment is unknown, he’d had previous experience with intelligence gathering and train-equip operations. Years past had also seen Staff Sgt. Malgar evaluate Mali’s troops to build counter-terrorism task forces.
Just one of the two SEAL Team 6 operatives involved in the investigation has been identified. Petty Officer Anthony E. DeDolph, The Intercept reports, also happens to be a former pro mixed martial arts fighter. Melgar, DeDolph, and another unidentified SEAL roomed together during their distinct deployments. It’s since been determined the SEAL’s were working alongside French and Malian troops in counter-terror operations. The two SEAL’s initially claimed they found Malgar unresponsive in their room and called medics.
When the medical examiner’s autopsy report ruled the death homicide by asphyxiation, the duo changed their story. Petty Officer DeDolph then stated they were “grappling”, and Malgar passed out. They tried reviving him, failed, then called medics. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is currently investigating the death and won’t offer comment. Staff Sergeant Malgar’s wife has asked for time to grieve before she can comment publicly.
Despite being a combat sport, mixed martial arts doesn’t normally fit into the commando’s training. Assuming the death was an accident, DeDolph’s prior pro-MMA experience may have been relatively unique among his peers. Does that mean he should’ve known which grapples were dangerous? Who knows. It’s causing online observers to speculate the Green Beret was intentionally killed for some reason.
War Crimes & Torture In Mali ‘
“Malian forces have committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests against men accused of supporting Islamist armed groups.”– Human Rights Watch Report.
That was just one sentence in an analysis of Malian military abuses between late 2016, and July 2017. Mali government operations against militant groups have largely been supported by France and the US. Both western countries have spec ops-capable boots on the ground fighting alongside and advising indigenous forces. Among them are elements of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)–which includes SEAL Team 6, DeDolph’s unit. Malian troops have also been accused of burning and waterboarding suspected militants. Several mass graves have been identified, with survivors saying prisoners also endured mock executions.
One case eerily resembles known CIA-sponsored “enhanced interrogation” methods. CIA also used mock executions, temperature abuse using freezing water or extreme heat, and other means. In the Malian case, men who’d allegedly admitted membership in an Islamic militia were captured and waterboarded by Malian forces.
“To force me to talk they poured 40 liters of water in my mouth and over my nostrils”, one man reported. “For a moment I thought I was even going to die. I slept in the cold and every night they’d come and pour freezing water over me.” The men were captured prior to a French-led operation supporting the Malian Army. Numerous villagers claimed Malian troops rounded people up, and likely executed them. Bodies were later recovered from a nearby well.
French Special Operations forces have also conducted JSOC-styled kill-capture raids throughout Mali. One of these allegedly killed an Islamic militant commander, and sought to rescue hostages.
Prior, American clandestine elements including the Green Berets and Delta Force–a JSOC unit from the Army–were tasked with training local forces. Tens of millions poured into the classified program aiming to form a counter-terror task force with four African nations. One of those was Niger, in headlines after Green Berets were killed in a firefight last month.
Where American Operatives Come In
Although French, and possibly American forces were ground-side, witnesses said they were rarely present when abuses started. Despite that, the close similarities in some of the torture methods with known western tactics is noteworthy. Of course, without eyewitnesses of westerners overseeing abuses, this is all circumstantial. However, it may also offer some insights into forms of misconduct Staff Sergeant Malgar could’ve potentially found objectionable.
And why wouldn’t the SEAL’s find the same conduct objectionable? TFC spoke with an anonymous former military contractor with spec ops experience. “I will say SEAL’s tend to be dirty, Green Berets tend to be cleaner”, the source said. “Mali is a place where people can get into a lot of trouble. It’s completely possible the [Green Beret] stumbled onto something the SEAL’s didn’t want him to see. Dirty could mean anything in Mali. Sex trafficking, drugs, weapons, minerals. The difference is the mission. SEAL’s kill. Green Berets train indigenous troops.”
The source wasn’t wrong. Mali is a country with a thriving black market flooded with American weapons. Drugs frequent the underground and, as a recent investigation showed, SEALs aren’t above experimentation.
The Intercept also found in an investigation a pattern of war crimes including mutilations and torture committed by SEAL Team 6 operatives over the years. Misconduct was normally covered up, or simply never made it outside the Team 6 command. Upon hearing the news of Petty Officer DeDolph’s identity being released, the source said, “he’s guilty as hell of something. If they didn’t know for fact he was in the wrong, they never would’ve named him.”
Interestingly, there also remains many questions about how timely notifications of Staff Sgt. Malgar’s death was. That’s just what’s known publicly, excluding things only operatives themselves know. Staff Sergeant Logan Malgar’s death raises many questions. While some may never be answered, one thing is clear. Between the Niger firefight, this and a Lybian ambush, Africa is a dangerous place for a Beret.