When the body of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Green Beret with the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, was discovered in the diplomatic housing he shared with several other special operations forces in the Malian capital of Bamako, military officials with U.S. Africa Command immediately suspected foul play. But according to an explosive new report published Sunday night, the truth may be far more complicated than the Department of Defense first suspected.
The Daily Beast reports, citing several members of the U.S. special operations community, that Melgar was killed by two members of SEAL Team Six after he discovered that the two SEALs were skimming cash off the top of the fund the elite special operators used to cultivate intelligence sources and pay off informants as part of the DoD’s broader counterterrorism mission in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region.
According to The Daily Beast, Melgar declined when offered a cut by the two SEALs, and that’s when things got out of control: Following an altercation between the three men on the morning of June 4, the Green Beret lost consciousness and stopped breathing. It’s certainly possible that Melgar’s death was an accident of sorts. AFRICOM officials told The Daily Beast that the two SEALs “attempted to open an airway in Melgar’s throat” after he lost consciousness before “ to a nearby French clinic seeking help.” Melgar was pronounced dead by asphyxiation later that morning.
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death remained secret until Oct. 29, when the New York Times reported that NCIS took on the probe from AFRICOM on Sept. 25.
While Melgar’s death could have been accidental, the subsequent SEAL cover-up detailed by The Daily Beast was clearly deliberate. The two SEALs claimed Melgar was intoxicated during some impromptu sparring sessions in the Bamako compound, where Petty Officer Anthony E. DeDolph (a mixed martial arts pro, according to The Intercept) placed Melgar in a chokehold. After Melgar’s death, the SEALS then filed “at least one operational report about the incident and possibly two … at least one of the reports included an account that Melgar was drunk.”
AFRICOM did not immediately announce Melgar’s death following the discovery of his body in Bamako, despite commands’ habit of announcing combat and noncombat deaths: According to The Daily Beast, then-U.S. Special Operations Command-Africa chief Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc was “skeptical of the initial reports from the outset.” Bolduc’s instincts were right. Melgar’s subsequent autopsy report revealed that the Green Beret’s system was clear of drugs or alcohol on the night of his death.
Several military officials told Task & Purpose that a medical examiner changed Melgar’s cause of death from accidental to “homicide by asphyxiation” months later, turning the two SEALs, placed on administrative leave as witnesses to Melgar’s death, into suspects.
“It looks like a sloppy attempt to sweep this under the rug,” one SOCOM official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the ongoing investigation surrounding Melgar’s death, told Task & Purpose. “I don’t know what they were thinking, but even if it was an accident, it makes his death look like anything but.”