Naval Criminal Investigative Demand (NCIS) Documents
(Released on June, 2008 | Learn More: The Human Cost of War - Civilian Casualties in Iraq & Afghanistan )
|"Here I am, locked in a room with a guard, for
what is said to be my own protection. Been here three days now. I don't
know what you know or if I can even tell you but I've failed to do what
I've always been about and what you have taught me . . . standing up for
what is right. Had I done that, this mess would be non-existent." -- Letter
from a U.S. Marine involved in the death of Hashim Awad to his family.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by U.S. Marines, of Hashim Awad, a 54-year-old disabled Iraqi male national. In the early morning hours of April 26, 2006, Marines arrived at Awad's home, pulled him from his home, shot him by the side of the road, planted an AK-47 and shovel on him next to a partially dug hole to make it appear as though he was an insurgent caught burying an Improvised Explosive Devise, and then left. The Marines initially tried to cover up the incident. However, after an investigation the story was revealed. At a series General Courts Martial the following convictions were returned: one Marine was found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping and Kidnapping; three Marines were found guilty of Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice and Assault; one Marine was convicted of Conspiracy to Kidnap and Murder to include Willfully and Wrongfully Seize and Carry Away Awad Against his Will; one Marine was convicted of Conspiracy to Kidnap, Larceny, and Housebreaking; and one Marine was convicted of Conspiracy to Kidnap, False Official Statement, Premeditated Murder, and Larceny.
|Forward Operating Base Camp Korean Village, Iraq
|"[REDACTED] remember when he was struggling
on the floor he had a sick white color to his skin. I also remember we
had our interpreter [REDACTED] try to [REDACTED] talk to him because Abbas
[sic] was jabbering while kneeling in the front room." -- U.S. Marine describing
taking Adnan Eid Abbass into custody less than an hour before he was found
dead in the back of the military truck he was transported in to Camp Korean
Village Army Base in Iraq.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death in U.S. custody of Adnan Eid Abbass, an approximately 50-year-old Iraqi male national. Marines were conducting nighttime raids in the early morning hours of January 4, 2006. The last home they went to was Abbass' located in Ar Rutbah, Iraq. Upon entering the home the Marines separated the military-aged-men from the woman and children. According to several Marine statements Abbass was uncooperative and force was used to subdue him. One Marine noted that Abbass was "struggling on the floor [and] he had a sick white color to his skin." According to a translator Abbass was upset that his home was being raided and was yelling that there were no insurgents in his home. Abbass, along with two other detainees, was taken from the home and placed in the cargo area of a Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The Marines then made their way toward Forward Operating Base Camp Korean Village, Iraq. The ride from Abbass's home to the base was from 2:05 am to 3:30 am. The weather outside was cold - it was between 32F and 55F. According to Marine statements Abbass and the other detainees had blankets placed over them in the HMMWV. The Marine gunners sat in sleeping bags. Upon arrival at Camp Korean Village it was discovered that Abbass was dead. After interviewing the Marines and others involved, and conducting an autopsy, NCIS determined that the cause of Abbass's death was from Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease complicated by Hypothermia and that the manner of death was accidental. The investigation was closed.
|October 28 through 30, 2005
|Nori Ismail Rowais Farm, Zaidon, Al Anbar Province, Iraq
|"The following Thursday, [REDACTED] of the victim,
came to the FLT [Fallujah Liaison Team] and did not have his lawyer with
him. [REDACTED] was angry and his eyes were red. He remained angry as he
told the story, but calmed down once he was paid [REDACTED]. He was upset
that [REDACTED] had many children and he did not know how they were going
to be fed. Once he was paid, he was not angry at all and he shook my hand
and kissed me." -- Interpreter for U.S. Marines describing paying a claim
to the family member of Kahar Fuzah Awad.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, allegedly by U.S. Marines, of Kahar Fuzah Awad, an Iraqi male national. At approximately 5pm on or about October 28 through 30, 2005, it is alleged that American military members entered Awad's home, instructed other members of the family to wait outside the home, and then left the home 30 to 60 minutes later. Allegedly screams and prayers in Arabic were heard coming from the home. Upon reentering their home Awad's family members found Awad dead; his throat was slit and his legs were bound together with an extension cord. Awad's body was taken to a local Mosque where he was buried. U.S. forces became aware of the incident because in March 2006 a lawyer for one of the family members went to the Fallujah Liaison Team with a claims card (claims cards are given to families of civilians that may have suffered death to a person or damage to property by U.S. forces). This claims card was given to the Awad family by a Staff Judge Advocate. Apparently a Staff Judge Advocate was in the vicinity of Awad's home on February 10, 2006, investigating another unrelated incident, when family members told the JAG about the Awad death. The JAG gave the Awad family a claims card. This claims card along with an alleged picture of Awad with his throat cut was presented to the Foreign Claims Commission at Fallujah. The claims personnel advised the lawyer that a family member should come in to discuss the incident. A family member came the following week without the lawyer. The claim was paid. The photograph was forwarded to the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner where the examiner indicated that the wound was most consistent with a cutting of the neck and inconsistent with a gunshot wound, but that an autopsy would have to be performed to make a definitive determination. Attempts to reach the family through the phone number the lawyer provided were unsuccessful. NCIS determined that the area of Iraq - Zaidon, Al Anbar -- was too dangerous to send an investigative team to. The investigation was closed.
|Between Camp Al Taqaddum and Baghdad International Airport in Iraq
|"Dear Sir, It has been reported to the Embassy
that one of your employee Mr. Sajjad Bashir son of [REDACTED] who went
to Iraq is missing in that country. It has also been reported to the Embassy
that he died on 15 March, 2005 in a road accident. His relatives are extremely
worried and have requested the Embassy to interview." -- Letter from Embassy
of Kuwait to war contractor Quality Light & Heavy Equipment Co. regarding
the death of Saddad Bashir Hussain.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by a U.S. Marine, of Sajjad Bashir Hussain, a contractor for Quality Light & Heavy Equipment Co. W.L.L. (a Kuwaiti military contract company). Hussain was a Pakistani male national and a Kuwaiti resident. On the evening of March 15, 2005, Hussain was part of a Marine convoy. The convoy was composed of approximately four Marine HUMVEEs and approximately 30 contractor vehicles that the Marines were accompanying from Camp Al Taqaddum to Baghdad International Airport. All the contractor vehicles, except Hussain's, were military style vehicles. Hussain's vehicle was a pickup truck. The route included going past a civilian gas station. A Marine Gunner on one of the HUMVEEs, who alleged that he did not realize that Hussain's vehicle was part of the convoy and believed that Hussain was an insurgent trying to infiltrate the convoy, used escalation of force and shot and killed Hussain. The Marine Gunner believed that the insurgent had entered from the civilian gas station. (The Marine Gunner first shot the driver side tire, then the engine block, then the passenger side windshield, and then the driver side windshield.) The convoy did not stop to investigate after Hussain's vehicle crashed into the side of the highway. The convoy went on to its destination point. It was later discovered that Hussain was a part of the convoy; his body was located at the Ramadi Hospital Morgue. The NCIS file states that there was initially an investigation by the military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root Services which indicated that Hussain had been shot and killed by a Marine. An NCIS investigation was then initiated. (At first it was determined that Hussain's body would undergo an autopsy - an autopsy that Hussain's family agreed to - to determine whether Hussain's death was caused by the wounds he sustained or if his death was the result of bleeding over a period of time due to lack of appropriate medical aid. Later, it was determined that no autopsy would be performed in order to get Hussain's body back to his family as soon as possible.) It appears from the investigation that the Marine Gunner was not briefed that Hussain's vehicle would be part of the convoy. Evidence was developed that the Marines involved were derelict in their duties, and had made false statements when questioned about the shooting. On December 15, 2005, a General Courts Martial was convened and one of the Marines pled guilty to making false statements. A jury found a Marine not guilty of failing to stop to render assistance to Hussain. The judge dismissed charges against another Marine who was alleged to have failed to brief members of the convoy that Hussain would be part of the convoy. The investigation was closed.
|Ar Ramadi, Iraq
|"After the shooting, a report was made via radio
that a MAM [military aged man] was engaged. . . . During this incident
I feared for my life as well as for the members of my team. We were in
known hostile territory surrounded by many high rise buildings. We left
the body on the side of the road because we were told the Iraqi's will
take care of the dead in their own customs. I have never been involved
in an incident like this before." -- U.S. Marine describing the death and
the immediate aftermath of the shooting death of Faisal Kurdi Serhan.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by U.S. Marines (Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry Regiment), of Faisal Kurdi Serhan, an Iraqi male national in his twenties. At approximately 5:30 pm on October 9, 2005, U.S. Marines were advised that occupants of a Black Opel station wagon had just allegedly emplaced an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) in the ground and were fleeing the scene. The vehicle was cornered by a HUMVEE and Marines exited the HUMVEE and approached the vehicle. Marines noticed several AK-47s and IED making components in the backseat of the vehicle. The occupants of the vehicle were three Iraqi male nationals. They exited the car and in the process of attempting to arrest the detainees, the Marines shot one detainee - Serhan -and killed him. Serhan's body was left in the street. (According to the investigation, leaving the body in the street and unrecovered was within the Marine unit's Standard Operating Procedure.) The two other detainees were arrested and taken to Ar Ramadi Detention Facility. There the two detainees - in separate interviews with a civilian contractor who had been hired to conduct interrogation for the Department of Defense - stated that the Marines had told Serhan to walk away and that as Serhan was walking away he was shot in the back. Because their stories matched, an investigation was launched. The Marines were interviewed and each stated that Serhan had been uncooperative and had attempted to grab a Marine's weapon. The Marines stated that Serhan then ran away from the Marines and the Marines shot him because they thought he may have the trigger for the IED devices the Marines had noticed in the vehicle. The Iraqi cab driver stated that the Syrians were being badly beaten by the IAF and that Doe ran away to avoid the beating. A second round of interviews with the two detainees revealed inconsistencies in their stories. One detainee said the instruction to walk away was given in Arabic, the other detainee said it was given in English. Both detainees acknowledged that they were preoccupied with their own situations and may not have relayed the event perfectly. The investigation was closed.
|Al Haqlaniyah, Zaidon, Iraq
|"The Iraqi Soldiers started beating them, which
made one of them escape. The area was very open with no area for him to
seek protection. The Iraqi Soldiers yelled at him to Stop, Stop, Stop.
Then they started shooting and he was returned dead. After this, they were
handcuffed with ropes and started beating them, by this I mean the Iraqi
Soldiers under the American Supervision. Then more American Hummers came
in. They then tied my hands also and brought me to prison [REDACTED]. P.S.
An American Soldier (Gunner) also fired from his Humvee. Also the American's
treatment of us was much, much better than the Iraqi Soldiers."¬ -
- Iraqi Taxi Driver who was detained along with several Syrian men he was
driving into Iraq on the shooting and killing of a Syrian man identified
only as John Doe.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by U.S. Marines (3rd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment) and Iraqi Armed Forces (IAF), of an unidentified Syrian male national (hereinafter Doe). At approximately 9:30am on June 26, 2005, Marines and IAF were manning a stationary vehicle checkpoint. A red Opel vehicle with four male occupants approached the checkpoint and was stopped. The men were asked to exit the vehicle. According to the witness statements, Marines instructed the IAF to interrogate the men. IAF beat the men until it was determined that one of the men was an Iraqi male national who was driving the other three who, based on their accents and fake Iraqi passports, were determined to be Syrian nationals and likely foreign fighters. In order to avoid continued beating Doe ran from the Marines and IAF. Doe was instructed to stop in Arabic and English. When Doe did not stop Doe was shot by IAF and the Marines. In an interview the Interpreter - a Department of Defense contracted linguist - for the Marines alleged that he and IAF ran over to Doe and Doe was still alive. According to the Interpreter an IAF officer shot three rounds into Doe and when the Marines questioned his conduct the IAF officer stated that "I shoot every fucking Syrian because they are going to blow themselves up." The Interpreter also stated that Marines did not beat or harm the detainees. The IAF officer then asked to shoot the other two Syrian detainees and the Marines would not let him. The cab driver alleged that IAF then handcuffed the other two Syrian nationals and beat them and that Marines were not involved in the beatings. The two other Syrian detainees also stated that IAF officers beat them. (One of the other Syrian detainees identified Doe as Abu Bashir, but the file indicates that this was likely not Doe's proper name.) The IAF officers alleged that they were instructed to interrogate the Syrian nationals by the Marines and that it was the IAF officers who refused to shoot the other two Syrian detainees. The autopsy results were that Doe's cause of death was two gunshot wounds and his manner of death was homicide. The autopsy did not reveal the three additional rounds that the Interpreter alleged killed Doe. An attempt to do a follow-up interview with the Interpreter failed because on July 5, 2005, he was injured as a result of an Improvised Explosive Devise and was medical evacuated to his hometown of Baghdad, Iraq. There were no statements from Marines because upon advice of counsel they invoked their right to counsel. It was determined that there was no command or Staff Judge Advocate interested in the investigation and that the actions of the Marines and IAF were within the Rules of Engagement and that proper Escalation of Force was used. The investigation was closed.
Parts 1, 2
|"After hearing about how the detainee went for
[REDACTED] gun and how the detainee had a hold of his blouse or hand, I
would have shot the detainee repeatedly. That's what I teach my Marines,
if deadly force is justified they're to ensure the threat is stopped by
all means. In my mind I would have at least shot the detainee twice." --
U.S. Marine describing his knowledge relating to the death of detainee
Haskem Shefi Abdullah.
This Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) file involves the death, by a U.S. Marine, of Haskem Shefi Abdullah, a 29-year-old Iraqi male national. On September 20, 2005, Abdullah was detained by a team of Marines for being a suspected insurgent. When detainees are apprehended the military has the person undergo retinal scanning. The scan is then compared to existing scans in a classified database called the Biometric Automated Tool Set (BATS) database to determine whether the person had previously been detained and was on the "Black List." (Notably, several Marines in their witness statements commented that the BATS system is not always correct, up-to-date or reliable.) Abdullah showed up as having previously been detained for being an insurgent and had been held at Abu Ghraib prison from February 2005 to July 2005 and that his detainee number had been 169279. On September 21, 2005, Abdullah was taken to a small wooden building known as a "swahut" to await processing by the Human Exploitation Team (HET). (HET teams determine whether a detainee should be further held or released.) While he was in the swahut Abdullah asked for water and to have his handcuffs removed because he was not feeling well. The Marine watching Abdullah did both. That Marine then had to leave to check on another detainee and asked a second Marine to watch Abdullah for a short while. This Marine - who was on the base to meet with a source who was running late - was left alone with Abdullah. While watching Abdullah - and within seconds of the other Marine's leaving - the Marine watching Abdullah remembered that his 9mm gun was not on the proper setting. The Marine went to reset his gun and as he was doing this, the Marine alleges that Abdullah tried to grab the gun from him. At 9:45am the Marine shot Abdullah once in the chest, and at 10:52am Abdullah died from his wounds. NCIS agents were on the scene immediately and took pictures and interviewed the Marines. The Marine claimed he acted in self-defense. He stated that the Rule of Engagement (ROE) required hostile intent and that his conduct be proportional to the situation. He stated that he believed his conduct was within that range because he acted in self-defense. He also stated that he had never heard anyone explain what the ROE was for close hand-to-hand combat. The Marine surmised that perhaps Abdullah had taken the bold step of trying to disarm a Marine because he had been held at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. The investigation was closed. For unstated reasons the investigation was then reopened, was designated as one of "special interest," and NCIS requested that the Marine undergo a polygraph examination. The Marine declined to do a polygraph and the investigation was again closed.
Parts 1, 2, 3
|Al Shaikh Hadid, Haditha, Al Anbar, Iraq
|"I do not specifically remember if HET
[the Human Exploitative Team] interviewed the family, but I was present
when they informed the older woman that her son was dead. There were three
additional Marines with us in the courtyard to provide security while they
broke the news, and as soon as [REDACTED] translated the words, the elder
woman became hysterical, screaming, slapping her face and ripping off her
cloths. It was a very sad and emotional scene and I hope to never experience
that again." -- U.S. Marine describing an interpreter informing the
mother of 21-year-old college student Mohammed Sumaidaie that Mohammed
had been shot and killed by a Marine.
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. (Though names are exempted throughout the file the file includes a series of email exchanges that are likely between Ambassador al-Sumaydi and NCIS agents. One email titled "A Tragic Event in My Family" has a short document attached to it which recounts Mohammed's family's recollection of the events. The file also contains an interview that is likely with Ambassador al-Sumaydi.) 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.