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Airman suspected in insider attack in eastern Syria faces court-martial

By Deborah Wilber - | Sep 28, 2022

Photo supplied, R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force

The sunset highlights hangar 1 at Hill Air Force Base on Aug. 20, 2019.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Tech. Sgt. David Dezwaan will go before the military’s highest level of trial court to answer for the charges brought against him following a series of explosions on the internationally shared Green Village base in eastern Syria.

Dezwaan, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, is accused of making and detonating bombs earlier this year while deployed at the U.S. military base in Syria. Arraignment and a motions hearing are scheduled for Oct. 11, with additional motions to be heard in February.

Dezwaan’s court-martial is projected to begin March 6, 2023.

While two previously referred charges against Dezwaan — failure to protect classified information and intentionally accessing a government computer with an unauthorized purpose — were dismissed following an Article 32 Uniform Code of Military Justice preliminary hearing on Aug. 23 at Hill, he still faces three charges.

Charges against Dezwaan stemming from the attack that injured four U.S. troops include damage, destroy or lose military equipment; reckless endangerment; and aggravated assault.

The U.S. government claims Dezwaan is responsible for two explosions within three minutes of each other, one in the Shower Lavatory Unit and one in the Basic Load Ammunition Holding Area, both of which sustained major damage.

Special Agent Tim Weinhold with the Office of Special Investigations was assigned to look into the April incident. Weinhold, who was called to testify on behalf of the U.S. government in Dezwaan’s preliminary hearing, presented evidence obtained over the course of his investigation leading to Dezwaan as the suspect.

Evidence presented by Weinhold included timelines and witness accounts of personnel on the base, video footage and access to explosives suspected to have been used.

While the Office of Special Investigations has said it cannot definitively rule out what explosive was used, a post-blast analysis of the areas in which the explosions occurred revealed the presence of approximately 3.75 pounds of C4, a common variety of plastic explosive.

Nathan Freeburg, one of Dezwaan’s attorneys, said the evidence against his client is “mostly” circumstantial.

Although the preliminary hearing in August ended with the prosecution lacking usable DNA and fingerprints or a clear motive for the attacks, Dezwaan’s second defense attorney, Phil Cave, suspected the case was going to move forward to a trial.

Military Judge Col. Mathew P. Stoffel will be presiding.

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