A 26-year-old Army reservist charged with taking part in the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghrain prison – and with snapping some of the notorious photographs – grew up around gruesome crime-scene pictures, her family says.
Spc. Sabrina Harman of Alexandria, Va., is the daughter of a homicide detective who often brought crime scene photographs home for the family to "profile."
"She's been looking at autopsies and crime-scene pictures since she was a kid," her mother, Robin Harman, told The Washington Post.
Sabrina Harman is one of seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cresaptown, Md., charged in the prison abuse scandal.
Her face is familiar to millions of people around the world as one of two smiling American soldiers seen in a picture standing behind a group of naked, hooded Iraqis stacked in a pyramid.
According to a charge sheet obtained by the Post, Harman is accused by the Army of taking photographs of that pyramid and taking pictures and videotape of Iraqis who were told to strip and masturbate in front of other prisoners and guards.
She is also charged with taking photographs of a corpse and posing for a picture with it; jumping on prisoners as they lay in a pile; and attaching wires to a detainee's hands as he stood on a box with his head hooded and telling him he'd be electrocuted if he fell off the box.
In an interview by e-mail from Baghdad, Harman told the Post it was made clear that her assignment was to break down the prisoners.
"They would bring in one to several prisoners at a time already hooded and cuffed," Harman said. "The job of the MP was to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk."
Robin Harman, in an interview with the Post, says that her daughter began taking and collecting the pictures as evidence of the mistreatment of prisoners soon after she was assigned to Abu Ghraib in October.
She said she and her daughter argued about the photographs. "Sabrina said she had to prove this. I told her to bring the pictures home, hide them and stay out of it."
Sabrina Harman brought the photos back to Virginia in November while on leave. In January, an Army investigator seized a CD of photos and Harman's laptop computer, a roommate said.
Her mother says Sabrina Harman, who worked as an assistant manager of a Papa John's Pizza before being sent to Iraq, dreamed of being a homicide detective like her father.
"She has no idea what people are really like," Robin Harman said. "She thinks everyone is good."