|31 March 2004 Fallujah Blackwater incident|
|Part of Iraq War|
|Target||Blackwater USA personnel|
|Date||March 31, 2004|
|Executed by||Iraqi insurgents|
The 2004 Fallujah Blackwater incident occurred on March 31, 2004, when Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy containing four American contractors from the private military company Blackwater USA who were conducting a delivery for food caterers ESS.
The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Mike Teague, were killed and dragged from their vehicles. Their bodies were beaten and burned, with their charred corpses then dragged through the city streets before being hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates River.
Photos of the event, showing jubilant Iraqis posing with the charred corpses, were then released to news agencies worldwide, which caused a great deal of indignation in the United States. This prompted the announcement of a counter-insurgency campaign in the city.
The ambush led to the First Battle of Fallujah, a U.S.-led operation to retake control of the city. However, the battle was halted mid-way for political reasons, an outcome which commentators have described as either a stalemate or an insurgent victory.Seven months later, in November 2004, a second attempt at capturing the city, the Second Battle of Fallujah, proved successful.
Intelligence reports concluded that Ahmad Hashim Abd al-Isawi was the mastermind behind the attack, and was not captured until a successful Navy SEAL operation in 2009.al-Isawi was held for a time by the United States intelligence community and testified at one of the 2010 courts-martial of SEALs he accused of mistreating him while detained at Camp Schwedler. He was subsequently handed over to Iraqi authorities for trial and executed by hanging some time before November 2013.
The families of the victims filed suit (Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security) against Blackwater USA for wrongful death in January 2005.
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Events in the year 2004 in Iraq.
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly 69 kilometers (43 mi) west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries.
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The First Battle of Fallujah, also known as Operation Vigilant Resolve, was an operation against militants in Fallujah as well as an attempt to apprehend or kill the perpetrators of the killing of four U.S. contractors in March 2004.
The Second Battle of Fallujah—code-named Operation Al-Fajr and Operation Phantom Fury—was a joint American, Iraqi government, and British offensive in November and December 2004, considered the highest point of conflict in Fallujah during the Iraq War. It was led by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines against the Iraqi insurgents in the city of Fallujah and was authorized by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Interim Government. The U.S. military called it "some of the heaviest urban combat U.S. Marines and Soldiers have been involved in since the Battle of Huế City in Vietnam in 1968."
Stephen "Scott" Helvenston was a United States Navy SEAL. He was working as a security contractor for Blackwater Security when he was killed in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush within days of arriving in Iraq.
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Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security is the lawsuit for wrongful death filed by the families of the four contractors for Blackwater Security murdered in the 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush. The families of the four men, led by Scott Helvenston's mother Katy Helvenston-Wettengel and Donna Zovko, Jerry Zovko's mother, filed suit against Blackwater with lawyer Daniel Callahan on January 5, 2005. Blackwater countersued for $10 million in December 2006, claiming breach of the contract provisions which forbid any suit against the company. In January 2011, U.S. district judge James C. Fox dismissed the suit after no progress was made in court-ordered arbitration.
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Ahmad Hashim Abd al-Isawi was an al Qaeda terrorist operating in Iraq in the early 2000s. He earned the nickname the Butcher of Fallujah within US military and intelligence circles after he allegedly masterminded the ambush and killing of four American military contractors whose bodies were then dragged by a spontaneously formed mob and hung from the old bridge over the Euphrates river in Fallujah, Iraq. In September 2009, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs captured al-Isawi in a nighttime raid in Fallujah, and he was charged with orchestrating the slayings. He was held for a time by the United States intelligence community and accused some of the SEALs who captured him of mistreating him while detained at Camp Schwedler. al-Isawi was subsequently handed over to Iraqi authorities and was awaiting his own trial when he testified at one of the resulting 2010 courts-martial. His own trial was held some time before November 2013, and al-Isawi was executed by hanging for the killings.
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