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Killing of Iraqi Civilians Index

Killings Database – Year 2005

 

 

The Killing of Mohammed Al-Sumaidaie

 

Background

Media Reports

Government Reports

Photo Credits

 

Background - Al Shaikh Hadid, June 25th, 2005

 

“[…] The US military is to investigate the circumstances in which a male relative of Iraq’s envoy to the United Nations died during a search of his home. Samir Sumaidaie has accused US soldiers of killing his 21-year-old cousin Mohammed in ‘cold blood’. […] He said Mohammed, an engineering student, was visiting his family home when some 10 marines with an Egyptian interpreter knocked on the door […]. He opened the door to them and was ‘happy to exercise some of his English’, said the ambassador. When asked if there were any weapons in the house, Mohammed took the marines to a room where there was a rifle with no live ammunition. It was allegedly the last time the family saw him alive. […] ‘In the bedroom, Mohammed was found dead and lying in a clotted pool of his blood - a single bullet had penetrated his neck,’ the Iraqi envoy said. […]”

Excerpt of a BBC News article from August 22nd, 2005.

Al-Anbar Province in June 2005

 

Media Reports

 

September 15th, 2006 - Iraqi Envoy Accuses US Of Stonewalling In Cousin’s Death

1 news article by the Associated Press

 

July 19th, 2006 - Marine Cleared in Shooting Death of Iraq Ambassador’s Relative

1 news article by the Associated Press

 

June 28th, 2006 - Iraq’s US Envoy Wants to See Cousin’s Death Report

1 news article by Reuters

 

August 22nd, 2005 - US Acts after Iraq Murder Claim

1 news article by BBC News

 

August 21st, 2005 - Navy to Probe Iraq Ambassador’s Claim of Murder

1 news article by the Associated Press

 

July 2nd, 2005 - Iraq Envoy Accuses US of Killing

3 news articles by BBC News, Associated Press & Reuters

 

 

Government Reports

 

February 7th, 2006 - Investigative File "G"/Report of Investigation

Report by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (8,3 MB)

 

File Summary compiled by the ACLU: “[…] This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by a U.S. Marine (Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment), of Mohammed Sumaidaie, a 21-year-old Iraqi male national who was a university student and apparently the cousin of Ambassador Samir Shakir al-Sumaydi. (At the time of Mohammed’s death Ambassador al-Sumaydi was the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations and currently he is the Iraqi Ambassador to the United States.)

 

“On June 25, 2005, after being briefed on their mission and having reviewed the relevant Rules of Engagement (ROE), a five convoy Marine unit traveled to Haditha to conduct a ‘Cordon & Knock’ operation wherein the Marines were doing house to house searches for contraband and insurgents. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for these Cordon & Knock operations is that Marines knock on the door, ask the head of the household (usually the eldest male) whether the family has any weapons (in Iraq every adult is permitted to have 1 AK-47 for protection, anything in excess of that is confiscated by U.S. Forces) and, if so, they usually ask the male to escort and point to where the weapon is. Sometimes they don’t have anyone show them to the weapon. The SOPs do not state whether the head of household is to direct the Marines to the weapon. The house is then searched. Cordon & Knocks are a less aggressive form of ‘Cordon & Search’ and ‘Raid or High Value Target.’

 

“The operations that day went smoothly and the last home to be visited was that of Mohammed. As to what happened next, there are inconsistencies between various witness accounts. According to several signed sworn statements from the Marine who shot and killed Mohammed, the Marines arrived at the Sumaidaie home at the end of their day. There, they found an Iraqi family (mother and several children), and the Marines used the little Arabic they knew - they did not have a translator/interpreter with them - to ask if anyone else was in home and whether the family had any weapons. The Marine alleged that the older woman of the family informed that her husband was the schoolmaster of the local school and was not present, that there were no other people in the home, and that there were no weapons in the home. The family was then instructed to go to the courtyard of the house while the Marines entered the home to conduct a search.

 

“The Marine alleges that several other Marines broke off to search other rooms of the house as he made his way toward the back room. The Marine alleges that as he entered the backroom he was confronted by a young Iraqi male who was pointing an AK-47 directly at the Marine. The Marine yelled out ‘gun, gun’ and shot the young Iraqi - Mohammed - in the neck. (The ROE is the ‘rule of two.’ If there are two strikes or the Marine’s life is in danger then the Marines can engage in deadly force. The strikes are being ‘out past curfew, digging on the side of the road, mortar, RPG, weapon, shooting at us, a cell phone and binoculars on top of a roof, escalation of force, within 50 meters, stuff like that.’) Other Marines then entered the room and the Marine who shot Mohammad looked at Mohammed’s AK-47 and discovered that the AK-47 was empty. The Marine was then taken to one of the Humvees as the rest of the Marines sought to deal with the situation. Other Marines - including all the Marines who were part of the search team - on the scene back-up this account. There is a discrepancy as to whether or not photographs were taken of the scene. (Some Marines said no photographs were taken because they assumed the Human Exploitative Team that arrived soon after the shooting would be taking photographs; another stated that he’d seen the photographs; still others were certain that there were photographs because they’d seen flashes but hadn't seen the photographs themselves. Those photographs - if they exist - were never recovered.) The Marines left after an hour and went back to the base where an All-Hands Formation to welcome the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps was taking place. At this Formation the Marine who shot and killed Mohammed was given a Challenge Coin by the Commandant in recognition for having killed an insurgent that day.

 

“One Marine, however, who came on the scene within minutes of the shooting and took part in testing Mohammed’s hands for gun power residue (which was negative by one account and another place in the file says it was inconclusive), signed several sworn statements that the above account of the incident was incorrect. This Marine stated that when he saw the SPOT report summarizing the incident he felt he had to come forward with his recollection which was substantially different than that reported by the other Marines. This Marine stated that within minutes of the incident he spoke with a Marine at the home who told him that they had encountered Mohammed in the home and that Mohammed had informed them that the family possessed a ceremonial AK-47 which only shot blanks and that he would take them to the AK-47.

 

“According to this Marine, he was told that the Marine who shot and killed Mohammed was startled at the way Mohammed showed him the AK-47 and shot Mohammed in defense. This Marine also reported that he was certain that someone took pictures at the scene. Initially this Marine stated that he heard the information from a Corpsman, however the Corpsman on duty that day submitted a sworn statement that he never had such a conversation. The Marine then stated that he may not have spoken to the Corpsman but was certain that he had the conversation with a member of the search team and that the contents of the conversation were correct. This Marine also informed that Lima Company was not as disciplined as other units and that the unit had a ‘cowboy like attitude.’ This Marine’s account of the incident was backed up by the family’s recollection of the events.

 

“According to the family, when the Marines knocked on the door Mohammed - hoping to practice some English he’d recently learned - went to the door and informed the Marines that the family had one ceremonial AK-47 and that he would show them to the weapon. The family waited outside and were only informed as the Marines were leaving that Mohammed had been shot and killed. The family also claimed that the Marines smiled at the family after the news of Mohammed’s death was relayed to them. Some members of the family also alleged assault. One family member, likely Mohammed's mother, alleged that the Marines had put a headscarf on Mohammed to make him appear to resemble a terrorist. She believes that the Marines then took pictures of her son in that condition.

 

“Two initial investigations - a Reportable Incident Assessment Team Inquiry and an Army 15-6 investigation - revealed inconsistencies. In addition, Ambassador al-Sumaydi filed a criminal complaint with the U.S. Department of State. […] It appears that for these reasons an NCIS ‘Special Interest’ investigation was launched. The NCIS conducted interviews with members of the Marine search team that day, other Marines, and Mohammed’s family members (including Mohammed's mother, father, two younger brothers, a friend of the family on December 27, 2005). One of the Marines - unclear from the file whether it was the Marine who shot and killed Mohammed - took a polygraph test regarding the incident. The polygraph examination determined that this person was not being deceptive in asserting that he had not observed Mohammed in the residence or that Mohammed had not led the search team down the hallway prior to the shooting. After consultation with the NCISHQ Criminal Investigations Directorate and Forensic Division Chief, it was determined that criminal culpability could not be established and on January 15, 2006, the investigation was closed. […]”

 

 

Photo Credits

 

Background

 

1) Al Anbar Province from a US Army Blackhawk helicopter. Al Anbar is a governorate of Iraq. The largest province in Iraq by area, it has one of the lowest population densities in Iraq and shares borders with Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Al Anbar is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim Arab. Its capital is Ar Ramadi.

The name of the province is from the Arabic Anbār, and means granaries in both Arabic and Persian as this region was the primary entrepot on the western borders of Persian Sassanid Empire. The famous Sunni theologian Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man, who developed Hanafi, one of the Sunni Madh'habs (schools of thought) is associated with this region.

The city of Fallujah is also in Anbar. The Iraqi resistance was widely considered to be stronger in this province than in any other in Iraq, and hostility toward coalition forces had been fierce. In late 2004, a series of operations by US forces, most notably Operation Phantom Fury, was not successful in driving insurgents from Anbar. Additionally, in early 2006, several tribes and militias - some including insurgent groups - began an effort to root out the remaining foreign militants. Subsequent insurgent raids against coalition forces in the area, the increase of sectarian violence (that pushed many of the Sunni tribes back into alliances with militants) and the continued insurgent control of several cities in Anbar showed that fighting in the region was far from over. Reports in March 2006 suggested that the Anbar capital Ramadi had largely fallen under insurgent control along with most of the region, as a result the US sent an additional 3,500 Marines to re-establish control of the region.

Following the rise of sectarian violence in Baghdad many soldiers were transferred back to the Iraqi capital, further strengthening the resistance’s hold on Anbar. The Iraq war website icasualties.org/oif has reported that 220 US troops were killed in action in Anbar province between the start of August 2006 and the end of February 2007. Many of these died in and around Fallujah, a town which was reportedly 'pacified' in late 2004 and early 2005.

Anbar, with Ramadi and Fallujah in particular, is known for its inhabitants' strong tribal and religious traditions. Allegedly, former President Saddam Hussein was constantly wary of the volatile nature of the area. Most of the inhabitants of the province are Sunni Muslims from the Dulaim tribe. - June 14th, 2005 - Jim Gordon/ US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE);

 

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