Former special forces hero charged with murdering suspected Afghan bombmaker

The U.S. Army has charged a decorated former Special Forces soldier with premeditated murder years after he admitted to killing a suspected Taliban bombmaker in Afghanistan.

Army Maj. Matthew L. Golstyen, once lauded as a war hero, is accused of fatally shooting a "male of apparent Afghan descent know as Rasoul" in February 2010, not far from the Forward Operating base McQuery in Maraj, according to legal documents obtained by NBC.

The former Green Beret first confessed to the killing during a polygraph test, administered as part the application process to join the CIA. The disclosure prompted the Army Criminal Investigation Command to launch a probe into Golstyen in late 2011.

The alleged murder came just days after two U.S. Marines, Sgt. Jeremy McQueary and Lance Cpl. Larry Johnson were killed after they entered a building rigged with explosives. Both men had been members of Golsteyn's unit.

During his CIA interview, the former soldier recalled how he and his soldiers began searching nearby homes and eventually discovered materials required to make the improvised bombs that had killed the Marines, the Washington Post reported.

He said they then brought the suspected bombmaker back to their base, where he unexpectedly crossed paths with an Afghan tribal leader who had been working with him and his unit. The interaction sparked concern for the leader's life, which allegedly resulted in Golsteyn shooting the suspected bombmaker.

"CPT Golsteyn stated he had no qualms about what he did because he couldn't have lived with himself if [the suspected bombmaker] killed another Soldier or Marine," an Army investigator's summary of Golsteyn's polygraph test said.

The Army Criminal Investigation closed the case in 2014, ruling that there was not enough evidence to prosecute for murder and conspiracy. Still, Golsteyn was stripped of his silver star and a year later a panel of Army officers issued him a letter of reprimand for demonstrating conduct unbecoming of an officer.

But the case was later reopened in 2016 — just two months after Golstyen discussed the case on Fox News. He again acknowledged that he killed the alleged bombmaker, who they had been holding as a detainee. He said letting him go would have given him the opportunity to kill Afghan targets assisting United States forces.

A date has not yet been set for his appearance in military court.

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