Air Force EOD Tech Accused of Syria Insider Attack Faces Court Appearance

Operation Half Life

A 2016 picture of then-Staff Sgt. David Dezwaan as he inspects the wiring of a simulated radioactive dispersal device at Clear Lake, California. Dezwaan was charged with planting explosives at a US base in Syria, injuring four Americans. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Cummings/9th Reconnaissance Wing

An Air Force explosives expert charged with an insider attack on a US base in Syria will face an early court hearing Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. David Dezwaan Jr. will face an Article 32 preliminary hearing for five charges of planting bombs at Mission Support Site Green Village, Syria, in April.

Dezwaan was the noncommissioned officer in charge of an explosive ordnance disposal unit at Hill. He faces five charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice ranging from assault to access of a government computer with an unauthorized purpose.

The primary charges of assault relate to bombs the Air Force said he placed in April that exploded and resulted in traumatic brain injuries to three people.

Beale EOD diffuse simulated crisis situation

Then-Staff Sgt. David Dezwaan, left, and Airman 1st Class Alex Nona at Clear Lake, California, in 2016. The EOD technicians participated in Operation: Half-Life, an exercise designed to evaluate a synchronized, multi-agency response to a crisis situation. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Cummings/9th Reconnaissance Wing

The bombings on the US outpost in April were first ascribed to foreign fighters, but video surveillance and investigation of the devices pointed toward Dezwaan, government officials said. The bombs went off near an ammunition holding area and a shower facility, CNN reported.

An Article 32 hearing is the first step toward a court-martial in the military justice system but is not meant to determine guilt. The prosecution will present evidence of the allegation to an official known as a hearing officer. A defendant may also present witnesses and evidence, including alternate explanations of the crime.

Beale EOD diffuse simulated crisis situation

Then-Staff Sgt. David Dezwaan attempts to enter a room with multiple simulated booby traps at Clear Lake, California, in 2016. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Cummings/9th Reconnaissance Wing

The hearing officer will consider the evidence and determine whether a crime was committed and whether probable cause exists to continue to a court-martial.

Hearing officers usually return decisions on Article 32 hearings several weeks after the hearing. The officer will say whether they believe sufficient evidence exists for a court-martial, which a senior commander will then rule on.

Read Next: UCMJ Charges: EOD Tech Set Off Bombs on US Base in Syria

Lauren Coontz is a staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. Beaches are preferred, but Lauren calls the Rocky Mountains of Utah home. You can usually find her in an art museum, at an archaeology site, or checking out local nightlife like drag shows and cocktail bars (gin is key). A student of history, Lauren is an Army veteran who worked all over the world and loves to travel to see the old stuff the history books only give a sentence to. She likes medium roast coffee and sometimes, like a sinner, adds sweet cream to it.
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