|31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush|
|Part of Iraq War|
|Target||Blackwater USA personnel|
|Date||March 31, 2004|
|Executed by||Iraqi insurgents|
The 2004 Fallujah ambush 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.
A private military company (PMC) is a private company providing armed combat or security services for financial gain. PMCs refer to their staff as "security contractors" or "private military contractors". Private military companies refer to their business generally as the "private military industry" or "The Circuit".
Eurest Support Services (ESS) is a subsidiary of the catering company Compass Group PLC specializing in harsh-environment large-scale food service and facilities management. Its primary clients are military forces and other security services, major defense contractors, and construction, mining, and oil exploration and production facilities worldwide.
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.
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.
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.
A news agency is an organization that gathers news reports and sells them to subscribing news organizations, such as newspapers, magazines and radio and television broadcasters. A news agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire, or news service.
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.
The First Battle of Fallujah, also known as Operation Vigilant Resolve, was an operation to root out extremist elements of Fallujah as well as an attempt to apprehend 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. Marines and U.S Army 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."
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.
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.
A court-martial or court martial is a military court or a trial conducted in such a court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment. In addition, courts-martial may be used to try prisoners of war for war crimes. The Geneva Convention requires that POWs who are on trial for war crimes be subject to the same procedures as would be the holding military's own forces. Finally, courts-martial can be convened for other purposes, such as dealing with violations of martial law, and can involve civilian defendants.
Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose or ligature around the neck. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain "hanging". Hanging has been a common method of capital punishment since medieval times, and is the primary execution method in numerous countries and regions. The first known account of execution by hanging was in Homer's Odyssey. In this specialised meaning of the common word hang, the past and past participle is hanged instead of hung.
The families of the victims filed suit (Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security) against Blackwater USA for wrongful death in January 2005.
The following is a timeline of major events during the Iraq War, following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
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.
Academi is an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince as Blackwater, renamed as Xe Services in 2009 and known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors. The company received widespread notoriety in 2007, when a group of its employees were convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad for which four guards were convicted in a U.S. court.
The Iraqi insurgency of May 2003–February 2006 began following the completion of the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein's rule in May 2003. The armed insurgent opposition to the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government lasted until early 2006, when it deteriorated into the Sectarian violence, the most violent phase of the Iraq War.
The United States bombardment of Fallujah began in April 2003, one month following the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. In April 2003 United States forces fired on a group of demonstrators who were protesting against the US presence. US forces alleged they were fired at first, but Human Rights Watch who visited the site of the protests concluded that physical evidence did not corroborate their allegations and confirmed the residents' accusations that the US forces fired indiscriminately at the crowd with no provocation. 17 people were killed and 70 were wounded. In a later incident, US soldiers fired on protesters again; Fallujah's mayor, Taha Bedaiwi al-Alwani, said that two people were killed and 14 wounded. Iraqi insurgents were able to claim the city a year later, before they were ousted by a siege and two assaults by US forces. These events caused widespread destruction and a humanitarian crisis in the city and surrounding areas. As of 2004, the city was largely ruined, with 60% of buildings damaged or destroyed, and the population at 30%–50% of pre-war levels.
Michael Ware is an Australian journalist formerly with CNN and was for several years based in their Baghdad bureau. He joined CNN in May 2006, after five years with sister publication Time. His last on-air appearance for the network was in December 2009.
1st Battalion, 24th Marines (1/24) is a reserve infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps located throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana consisting of approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors. Nicknamed Terror from the North, the battalion is attached to the 25th Marine Regiment of the 4th Marine Division.
The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. An estimated 151,000 to 600,000 or more Iraqis were killed in the first three to four years of conflict. In 2009, official US troops were withdrawn, but American soldiers continued to remain on the ground fighting in Iraq, hired by defence contractors and private military companies. The U.S. became re-involved in 2014 at the head of a new coalition; the insurgency and many dimensions of the civil armed conflict continue. The invasion occurred as part of a declared war against international terrorism and its sponsors under the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush following the unrelated September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004 was a series of operational offensives and various major engagements during the Iraq War. It was a turning point in the war: before, the conflict was simply US/Coalition versus insurgents, but the Spring Fighting marked the entrance of militias and religiously based militant Iraqi groups, such as the Mahdi Army into the arena of conflict.
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.
On September 16, 2007, employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a private military company contracted by the US government to provide security services in Iraq, shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad, while escorting a U.S. embassy convoy. The killings outraged Iraqis and strained relations between Iraq and the United States. In 2014, four Blackwater employees were tried and convicted in U.S. federal court; one of murder, and the other three of manslaughter and firearms charges.
James Patrick Blecksmith was an American military officer who was the first officer killed in Operation Phantom Fury during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
The Iraq War in Al Anbar Governorate, also known as the Al Anbar campaign, consisted of fighting between the United States military, together with Iraqi Government forces, and Sunni insurgents in the western Iraqi governorate of Al Anbar. The Iraq War lasted from 2003 to 2011, but the majority of the fighting and counterinsurgency campaign in Anbar took place between April 2004 and September 2007. Although the fighting initially featured heavy urban warfare primarily between insurgents and U.S. Marines, insurgents in later years focused on ambushing the American and Iraqi security forces with improvised explosive devices (IED's), large scale attacks on combat outposts, and car bombings. Almost 9,000 Iraqis and 1,335 Americans were killed in the campaign, many in the Euphrates River Valley and the Sunni Triangle around the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
The Road to Fallujah is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Mark Manning and written by Manning and Natalie Kalustian.
The Good Friday Ambush 2004 was an attack by Iraqi insurgents on April 9, 2004 during the Iraq War on a convoy of U.S. supply trucks near Baghdad International Airport. It happened in the midst of the Iraq spring fighting of 2004, which saw intensified clashes throughout the country.