Royal Marine who killed unarmed Afghan insurgent may need permanent terror protection

Royal Marine who killed unarmed Afghan insurgent may need permanent terror protection
Royal Marine Alexander Blackman could require permanent protection from terrorists after he is freed from prison early as the result of his sentence for killing an unarmed, wounded Afghan being reduced to manslaughter.

In 2013, Blackman was convicted of murdering a wounded Afghan fighter two years earlier after helmet-cam footage of the incident emerged.

However, his ten-year sentence for murder was reduced to manslaughter following a campaign and, with credit for the three and a half years he has already served in jail, he may be released within weeks.

Fears that Blackman and his family could be targeted by terrorists were apparent throughout the trial and two appeals.

Initially Blackman was tried under the name ‘Marine A’ to protect his identity.

The other marines initially charged, but later exonerated, were given similar codenames.

Although the audio recording of the killing was made public, the full helmet camera video was never released for fear it would be used for propaganda purposes by terror groups.

To assure their safety, Blackman and his family have been advised to move, change their identities, compile a list of police safe houses, carry a tracking beacon at all times, and adopt special codes to ensure a quick police response in case of an emergency.

It is also recommended that the family avoid the internet entirely.

On Tuesday, Blackman spoke out about his sentence being reduced from ten to seven years, which effectively assures that he will be freed in the near future.

From jail, he told the BBC: “My heart sank when the judge started talking about my current sentence being the equivalent of 16 years, and I thought it was somehow leading to a larger sentence.

I just felt a profound sense of relief when they said seven,” the Royal Marine of 15 years said.

The former soldier’s lawyer, Jonathan Goldberg QC, told the Times: “Doubtless Al and Claire [Blackman’s wife] are now in the crosshairs of Islamist fanatics, but their local police have been magnificent.

Blackman is expected to be out in two weeks. He has reportedly spent his time in jail studying for a degree and may be considering writing a book about his experiences.