In Depth

Who is Edward Gallagher? The ‘evil’ US soldier launching a fashion line

Former Navy Seal ‘positioning himself as an influencer’ following controversial war crimes pardon

Former US Navy Seal Edward Gallagher has launched his own clothing line after being granted clemency by Donald Trump for posing with the body of a teenage Isis fighter. 

Gallagher was acquitted of committing war crimes including murder while serving as a platoon leader in Iraq, but was demoted for taking his “trophy photo” - until the president reversed the decision in November. 

Fast-forward two months and Gallagher is modelling his new lifestyle clothing brand Salty Frog Apparel, as well as “endorsing nutrition supplements and positioning himself as a conservative influencer with close ties to the man who helped clear him”, says The New York Times.

The launch of his fashion venture comes just days after video recordings emerged in which his former Seals team refer to him as “evil”, “toxic” and “perfectly OK with killing anybody”. Gallagher denies any wrongdoing.

Who is Edward Gallagher?

Special Operations Chief Gallagher was a decorated veteran who served eight tours, during which he became infamous among other Navy Seals for his reckless and often violent behaviour.

Despite an unspoken rule against reporting other Seals for misconduct, by 2018 members of his platoon felt they had no option but to speak to outside investigators.

They reportedly told the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that Gallagher may have been “purposefully” exposing them to enemy fire to bait Isis fighters into revealing their positions. They also said that he had seemed to care primarily about racking up kills, including those of women and children. 

In the recently released video interviews, obtained by The New York Times, a number of the platoon members break down in tears as they describe how their “evil” and “toxic” former leader would go on solo “gun runs” - described as “emptying loads of heavy machine gun fire into neighborhoods with no apparent targets”. 

During his trial, some of the Seals claimed that they “tampered with his sniper rifle to make it less accurate, and fired warning shots to scare away civilians before the chief had a chance to shoot them”, according to USA Today

In the most serious charge against him, Gallagher was accused of stabbing to death a barely conscious captive in May 2017, before posing with the corpse. 

Gallagher was arrested in late 2018, but was acquitted by a military jury on six of seven charges in July 2019. He was found guilty of “wrongfully posing for an unofficial picture with a human casualty”, but was released as he had already spent more time in custody than the maximum sentence for the offence.

What happened next?

Following his court-martial, Gallagher was demoted from chief petty officer to a petty officer first class, which would have cost him a large part of his military pension and seen him stripped of his Seal qualification pin.

However, Trump then reversed the demotion as part of a wave of executive pardons of US troops convicted or accused of war crimes.

Gallagher subsquently issued a statement heaping praise on Trump, CNN reports. 

“President Donald Trump you have my deepest gratitude and thanks,” Gallagher said. “You stepped in numerous times and showed true moral fiber by correcting all the wrongs that were being done to me. You are a true leader and exactly what the military and this nation needs.”

MilitaryTimes.com reports that since then, the former Seal “has struck up a relationship with the president”.

Only last week Gallagher was pictured alongside his wife at the Christmas Eve party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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