A federal agent is probing a death threat mailed to Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, the SEAL accused of committing a string of war crimes in Iraq.
In a brief message sent by military prosecutors to defense attorney Timothy Parlatore late Wednesday, officials indicated that the threat came in the form of a postcard intercepted at Naval Medical Center San Diego, where Gallagher is living until his court-martial trial concludes in June.
According to Parlatore, the threat was generated on an online app that makes postcards and then mails them to recipients. The postcard apparently was requested by an unknown customer in New York.
Prosecutors told Parlatore that the message contained an image of a seriously wounded teenage Islamic State prisoner of war allegedly stabbed to death by Gallagher outside the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2017.
The postcard sarcastically thanked Gallagher for the alleged murder of the ISIS fighter, used an expletive to describe the SEAL and ended with a threatening vow to “see you soon in Hell,” Parlatore said.
At the bottom left corner of the card was what appeared to be a separate message written in Arabic, the attorney added.
“It’s almost like they’re treating it as an exhibit in my case rather than as a serious security threat,” said Parlatore. “I can’t get any answers about when it was sent. They didn’t seem to have informed my client or his family when they received the threat.”
Parlatore told Navy Times that he passed on information about the threat to both Gallagher, a former member of SEAL Team 7, and his family.
In the message, prosecutors assured Parlatore that NCIS would assign an agent who had no prior knowledge of the case against Gallagher to identify the person who allegedly sent the threat.
Contacted in San Diego, Naval Medical Center San Diego spokesman Mike Alvarez would confirm only that the facility’s mailroom intercepted the letter and turned it over to federal authorities.
Gallagher, 39, has resided at the installation since being freed by a March 30 order from President Donald Trump that removed the SEAL from pretrial confinement at San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar.
Naval Special Warfare Group 1 commodore Capt. Matthew D. Rosenbloom later agreed to key concessions on the SEAL suspect’s living arrangements designed to allow Gallagher to properly prepare for his court-martial trial, which is slated to begin May 28 at nearby Naval Base San Diego.
Gallagher also has been accused of gunning down an elderly Iraqi man and a young girl but continues to insist he’s the victim of falsehoods and rumors, and vows to clear his name at trial.
It remains unclear when Navy officials intercepted the letter and what efforts they’ve taken to protect him at a barracks near what locals have long called Balboa Hospital.
Gallagher remains assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 1 but security at the medical facility is overseen by its base commander.
Prosecutors referred Navy Times to public affairs officers at Navy Region Southwest — the convening authority for Gallagher’s court-martial trial and the military landlord for tenants like Balboa.
Region spokesman Jay Delarosa said that he couldn’t discuss any measures taken by base security to safeguard Gallagher but insisted commanders routinely hike protection if there’s a threat.
“The force protection for Chief Gallagher and all of our service members is our highest priority,” said Delarosa. “Base commanders have the prerogative to change the level of force protection based on the information they receive from law enforcement and others.”