Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher 'put the laughter in manslaughter'

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of murdering ISIS POW, began ‘acting like he’d lost his mind’ in Iraq and would shoot at fighters and civilians as if he was ‘playing American Sniper’, new book claims

  • New book, Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs, published Tuesday, reveals the full extent of his dark past during his deployment
  • Gallagher, 41, was found not guilty in 2019 of murdering an injured 17-year-old ISIS fighter during a mission in Mosul in 2017
  • He was, however, convicted of posing with the dead body as if it were a trophy
  • According to author and NYT journalist David Philipps, Gallagher’s men noticed that he began ‘acting like he’s lost his mind’ after they arrived in Mosul 
  • Rather than take his men on missions, he would find a spot where he could shoot at ISIS fighters and civilians as if he was ‘playing American Sniper’, the book says
  • When one of the members of his platoon challenged him about the killing of the ISIS POW, he replied: ‘Next time I’ll do it when you’re not around’
  • Book reveals Gallagher was secretly addicted to painkillers and was popping Provigil pills to keep himself awake which left him amped
  • He was also injecting himself with testosterone to help build muscle at the gym 

A Navy SEAL accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner of war became ‘untouchable’ after Donald Trump intervened in his case and pardoned him, a new book reveals.

Eddie Gallagher was accused of killing dozens of Iraqi civilians including a schoolgirl and an elderly man armed with just an empty jug.

He went on trial for stabbing an injured 17-year-old ISIS POW to death and was convicted of posing with the dead body like a hunting trophy. 

Trump, however, saw him as a ‘real-life Rambo’ and gave him an invitation to meet in person at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida.

The former president pardoned Gallagher and personally ensured that disciplinary action, which could have kicked him out of the SEALs, the Navy’s most elite unit, wouldn’t be taken against him.

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher (pictured with his wife Andrea after his acquittal in 2019) was accused of killing dozens of Iraqi civilians including a schoolgirl and an elderly man while deployed in Afghanistan 

Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in 2019 of stabbing the ISIS fighter to death but was convicted of unlawfully posing for photos with his dead body

According to the book, when one of Gallagher’s men challenged him about the killing he left him stunned by saying: ‘Next time I’ll do it when you’re not around’

A new book reveals the full extent of the allegations against Gallagher and his dark past which raises fresh questions about Trump’s support.

In Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs, published Tuesday, also throws up deep questions about the culture at the SEALs, which are best known for killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

David Philipps, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with the New York Times, spoke with more than two dozen current and former SEALs and read through more than 9,000 pages of confidential and court documents, including text messages that were used during Gallagher’s trial.

He reveals that the incident which led to Gallagher’s trial came in early 2017 when Alpha Platoon, which he was commander of, was deployed to Mosul in Iraq to flush out ISIS militants.

Gallagher was known in the SEALS as a ‘seasoned badass’ and was well respected by his platoon while they were training for the mission.

But once they got into Iraq, Gallagher started ‘acting like he’s lost his mind’, as Special Operator First Class Craig Miller put it.

He began ‘brooding like a character in Heart of Darkness’, the book that inspired 1979 film Apocalypse Now, about a colonel who goes mad in the Vietnam War. 

Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs, published Tuesday, reveals the full extent of the allegations against Gallagher and his dark past

‘Suddenly Eddie seemed to be consumed by the dark possibilities of the next six months in combat, as if the prospect of mayhem, killing, and death were some ghoulish type of opportunity,’ the book says. 

Rather than take his men on missions, every day Gallagher would find a spot where he could shoot at ISIS fighters and civilians as if he was ‘playing American Sniper’, the 2014 war drama film based on former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who has the most kills in US military history.

A grim joke going round the platoon was that ‘Eddie Gallagher puts the laughter in manslaughter.’ 

On May 3, 2017, the first day of a new offensive, Iraqi soldiers informed troops over the radio that they were bringing an injured ISIS soldier back with them.

Over the radio, Gallagher is said to have told his men: ‘No-one touch him. He’s mine’.

Gallagher kneeled over the body of the wounded boy, later identified as 17-year-ol Moataz Mohamed Abdullah, who was motionless having been injected with a sedative.

Members of Alpha platoon saw Gallagher pull out a three-inch knife he kept with him in a black leather sheath across his belt – and stab it into Abdullah’s neck.

Gallagher pulled it out and put it back in again, causing an ‘eruption’ of blood to come out.

Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, saw it all and was ‘too shocked’ to do anything. 

Fellow SEALs say Gallagher started acting like he ‘lost his mind’ after arriving in Ira – where he would reportedly find a spot where he could shoot at ISIS fighters and civilians as if he was ‘playing American Sniper’

Members of the Alpha platoon say they saw Gallagher pull out a three-inch knife (pictured) he kept with him in a black leather sheath across his belt – and stab it into Abdullah’s neck

Gallagher was arrested and charged with multiple allegations, the most serious of which was murdering the POW which was a war crime. He is seen leaving military court with his wife Andrea Gallagher during lunch recess on July 2, 2019

‘He was too overwhelmed to think or act. His special operations medical training had readied him for scores of high-stress situations. The one where the platoon chief stabs a sedated POW was not one of them,’ Philipps writes. 

Scott thought to himself that ‘this was a crime, this was murder.’ 

Special Operator Craig Miller, who also witnessed the act, characterized it as ‘an assault against everything he believed the SEALs stood for,’ according to the book. 

But then after Gallagher’s encouragement the men all stood around Abdullah’s body for a photo – not everyone realized what had happened moments earlier.

Gallagher took his own solo photo with Abdullah’s ‘head by the hair with his right hand, like he was holding the antlers of a prize buck’. 

‘In his left hand he gripped his custom-made hunting knife. He looked straight into the camera, confident but not smiling, in a classic hunter’s pose,’ Philipps writes. 

When one of Gallagher’s men challenged him about the killing he left him stunned by saying: ‘Next time I’ll do it when you’re not around.’

The platoon continued their tour but Gallagher’s behavior would only get even worse, the book says. 

On one occasion, he mistakenly thought one tower was clear of ISIS fighters but it wasn’t and one of his men got shot and others were nearly killed.

Gallagher continued going out on his sniper mission but his targets appeared to be unarmed civilians.

Gallagher’s case drew widespread controversy with President Trump repeatedly intervening on his behalf. Gallagher and his wife Andrea met with Trump and First Lady Melania at Mar-a-Lago back in 2019 following his acquittal for murder

The former president pardoned Gallagher and personally ensured that disciplinary action wouldn’t be taken against him

Special Operator First Class Dylan Dille realized he would have to fire warning shots at them – to stop his boss from killing them first.

With each passing day Gallagher became ‘more unglued’ and began screaming in his sleep so often it seemed to his platoon that he was ‘going mad.’

His men did not realize it but Gallagher was secretly addicted to a powerful painkiller and was popping Provigil pills to keep himself awake on long missions which left him amped and acting like the ‘Energizer Bunny.’

He was also injecting himself with testosterone to help build muscle at the gym.

Towards the end of the tour, Gallagher also began to carry around a steel hatchet that he had delivered to the front lines.

In a text to the friend who sent it to him, he said he wanted to ‘bury’ it in somebody’s skull – but thankfully he never did.

According to Philipps, the men began to realize that all along their ‘enemy had not been ISIS but their chief.’

That was especially the case for Petty Officer First Class Joe Arrington, who one day watched as a shot came out from a sniper tower which hit an elderly man carrying nothing more than an empty plastic jug.

Gallagher kept bragging about the numbers of ISIS fighters he had shot as if he was manufacturing his own mythology as an expert marksman.

But based on what his men were seeing, there was ‘little doubt’ he was killing civilians.

The Weekly documentary series in 2019 revealed text messages in which Gallagher’s platoon members discussed his alarming behavior  

One occasion was when Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, saw a group of four school-age girls walking along unarmed.

He heard a shot fire from a US sniper tower and ‘saw a girl clutch her stomach and go down.’

Vriens thought that ‘shooting an innocent child was so evil, so disgusting’ that only ISIS had done it.

But when he told his comrades they corrected him: Gallagher told them he took the shot.

It was shocking but as Philipps writes, the truth was that there had been warning signs about Gallagher his whole life.

He was the son of a West Point Graduate and Army officer but he lacked discipline and was kicked out of high school for fighting and barely graduated.

After bouncing around dead end jobs he signed with the Navy in 1999 at the age of 19.

He repeatedly tried to become a SEAL but only after they were unable to meet their recruitment goals during the early 2000s during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did he make the cut.

Even though Gallagher was lauded for being aggressive and worked his way up to command his own platoon, there were plenty of signs he was a ‘darker, meaner human being’ than his superiors thought.

He was openly homophonic and talked about how transgender people should be ‘dropped in the ocean’, Philipps writes.

He hit a student he was supposed to be teaching and was quietly reassigned.

Gallagher had also been known to make racist remarks, such as one time shortly before his deployment in 2017, when he told a former colleague who said he was going to a Black Lives Matter protest: ‘Are you going down there? Run those n****** over.’

According to Philipps, the couple gave interviews knowing that Gallagher was a ‘real-life version of Rambo made for the Trump era’ and the former President wouldn’t be able to resist getting involved


Gallagher, 42, was the son of a West Point Graduate and Army officer but he lacked discipline and was kicked out of high school for fighting and barely graduated

On a tour of Afghanistan in 2010 Gallagher was accused of shooting a girl that a target was using as a human shield in order to neutralize him.

He later said about the incident: ‘You gotta break a couple eggs to make an omelet.’

In late 2016, before going to Iraq, Gallagher texted a friend that ‘we just want to kill as many people as possible.’

When Alpha Platoon returned to their base in San Diego after their tour of Iraq, they reported Gallagher to their superiors who reluctantly asked their bosses to start an investigation.

In interviews with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) special Operator First Class Dylan Dille estimated Gallagher shot 20 to 50 people, and maybe five of them were legitimate targets.

Miller said that Gallagher was ‘freaking evil’ while Vriens said that he was ‘toxic’.

Scott told NCIS: ‘You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.’

NCIS investigators raided Gallagher’s home in Florida and found his iPhone from his deployment.

On it was the photo of him posing with the dead ISIS child soldier’s head and his hunting knife in his hand.

In a text he sent nine days after the killing Gallagher told a friend: ‘Good story behind this one, got him with my hunting knife.’

Gallagher was arrested and charged with multiple allegations, the most serious of which was murdering the POW which was a war crime.

But Gallagher’s wife Andrea started the pushback and created a website called JusticeforEddie.com which portrayed him as a war hero and asked for donations – more than $500,000 poured in.

She appeared on Fox News more than a dozen times between December 2018 and his trial in June the following year.

Their target was one person they knew was likely watching: the President of the United States.

They knew that Gallagher was a ‘real-life version of Rambo made for the Trump era’ and the former President wouldn’t be able to resist getting involved.

For Trump, who attended a military academy and was obsessed with the Armed Forces, Gallagher was the perfect poster boy.

As Trump once put it, he wanted to ‘bomb the s***’ out of ISIS – and he was about as sympathetic to their fighters.

According to author David Philipps, the men began to realize that all along their ‘enemy had not been ISIS but their chief’

Trump began Tweeting about the case and even before Gallagher went on trial, said he would pardon him.

But as the commander-in-chief, it was a complete subversion of the military justice system.

When Trump heard that Gallagher was in a grim military prison he called Richard Spencer, the Navy Secretary at the time, and told him to ‘get Eddie Gallagher out of solitary confinement’.

The next day nothing had changed so Trump called again.

He told Spencer: ‘I thought I told you to get Gallagher out’. 

When Spencer protested, Trump said: ‘I don’t give a s***, get him out of there. Do I have to give you a direct order?’

Spencer obliged and Trump said: ‘Okay I want you to call over to Pete Hegseth at Fox and tell him what you’re doing’.

A White House operator came on saying she was connecting the call.

Trump announced the move on March 30, 2019 with a Tweet that read: ‘In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends’.

The trial was a disaster for the prosecution when the lead prosecutor was ordered off the case amid claims he tried to spy on the computers of a lawyer for some of the SEALs.

Scott, who privately visited Gallagher in the run up to the trial, unexpectedly turned hostile and refused to back up crucial parts of the case.

Scott even took the credit for killing Abdullah by cutting off his breathing pipe because he feared he would be tortured by the Iraqis, the court heard.

The jury of serving military personnel cleared Gallagher of everything apart from posing with the photo of Abdullah’s dead body.

He was sentenced to four months in prison, two months of docked pay and a reduction in rank one step.

With time served he was a free man.

As Philipps writes: ‘After the trial, Eddie had put on his uniform and returned to his job at the Navy. 

‘He was back in the system, still technically a sailor under control by the chain of command, and yet, the command all knew they had no control over him. They couldn’t do anything to Eddie because President Trump had his back. He was untouchable’.

But for Trump the idea of Gallagher losing even his rank was too much and he ordered the military to reinstate him.

When Trump got wind of a disciplinary investigation by Navy commanders to kick Gallagher out of the SEALs he put a stop to it, and fired Spencer, his Navy Secretary.

Gallagher ‘seemed to realize he had top cover from a fellow pirate in the White House’, Philipps writes.

Amid the fallout, the Navy dropped charges against a good friend of Gallagher’s and three other SEALs who were facing charges in the 2012 beating death of a detainee in Afghanistan. 

Law enforcement ‘quietly dropped’ the conspiracy to commit perjury investigation into Scott, who dramatically changed his testimony in court.

Five months after Gallagher’s trial Trump pardoned him and invited him to a meeting at Mar-a-Lago in Florida where they were photographed smiling together.

Philips writes that while Trump’s actions were disturbing, the Gallagher case raises profound issues about the culture of the SEALs as well.

Gallagher never gave his platoon an explanation for what he did but they suspected it was because of his obsession with SEAL lore.

Philipps writes that while high tech weapons allowed SEALs to kill an enemy from hundreds of yards away there was ‘nothing closer, more visceral, more badass, than the silent blade of the World War II frogmen’ – and Gallagher’s nickname was ‘Blade’.

In fact Gallagher’s actions were a ‘learned behavior passed down from the men who had come before him’.

The book says: ‘He was part of an unsanctioned subculture in the SEALs that prized killing above nearly everything else, including, in some cases, the rule of law.

‘And in his own way, he may just have been trying to fit in’. 

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