Marine report: Haditha “massacre” was engineered by Al Qaeda? Updated: What/when did Murtha know about this?

posted at 12:55 am on October 8, 2007 by Allahpundit

Via the Jawas, I’ve read this three times and still don’t get it. Here’s the gist:

The report – apparently overlooked by a Washington press corps awash in leaked Bargewell documents and secret Naval Criminal Investigative Service reports – shows that Marine Corps intelligence operatives were advised of the scheme to demonize the Marines by an informant named Muhannad Hassan Hamadi. The informant was snared by 3/1 Marines on December 11 2005 and decided to cooperate.

The attack was carried out by multiple cells of local Wahabi extremists and well-paid local gunmen from Al Asa’ib al-Iraq [the Clans of the People of Iraq] that were led by Al Qaeda foreign fighters, the summary claims. Their case was bolstered by Marine signal intercepts revealing that the al Qaeda fighters planned to videotape the attacks and exploit the resulting carnage for propaganda purposes…

During the November Haditha battle, the insurgents secreted themselves among local civilians to guarantee pursuing Marines would catch innocent civilians in the ensuing crossfire. On January 6, 2006 six insurgents who tried to do the same thing at another location in Haditha were turned in to Coalition authorities before they could mount a similar assault, the report says…

The captured insurgents revealed the attack was planned in Albu Hyatt, a nearby town where numerous Marines have been killed and wounded since the beginning of the war. The two main elements of the attack were the IED-initiated ambush on Route Chestnut and two IED ambushes planned along the so-called River Road that parallels the Euphrates River about 1.5 kilometers north of the Chestnut location.

The prisoners claimed the multi-pronged assault on the Marines was intended to garner local support by discrediting the Marines among the civilian population. If the coordinated attack had gone off as planned all three IED ambushes would have been sprung on the patrolling Marines almost simultaneously, the prisoners said. The insurgents plan depended on the Marines aggressively responding to the assaults to create as much carnage as possible.

It was the IED on Route Chestnut that killed Lance Cpl. Terrazas and precipitated the subsequent house raids that resulted in 24 people being killed. Note that the other two IEDs were a ways away from the one on Chestnut, which seems like an odd way to place them if you’re trying to ambush a squad of patrolling Marines “almost simultaneously.” By scattering them, you have no assurance that the Marines will pass by all three bombs, let alone that they’ll do so around the same time. It makes more sense to bury all of them along the same stretch of road in a populated area which the Marines are known to patrol and then hit the whole convoy as it rolls by.

Beyond that, the plan’s too clever by half. U.S. troops had been dodging IEDs and facing enemy fire from the cover of houses for two years by the time of the Haditha incident with nary a massacre to their credit. Why would Al Qaeda expect they could bait them into one now? Moreover, if the jihadis’ intent was to “secret themselves among local civilians” to maximize collateral damage, why didn’t Wuterich’s men find a single enemy combatant during their fateful house-clearing operations on Chestnut? The logical thing would have been to station one or two jihadis in houses on either side of the road and then have them open fire on the convoy after the IED went off, to make the Marines think there were hostiles on all sides and that they should proceed accordingly. As it is, assuming this whole “massacre bait” theory is correct, the jihadis seem to have lucked into it. Here’s what Frank Wuterich told 60 Minutes:

Two other Marines were wounded and the medic was treating them. Wuterich was down to eight men and they came under rifle fire. He says he heard “Shots, sporadic shots, I think I heard two or three, two or three shots from the south and that was it.”

He says he couldn’t see where the fire was coming from, but a house to the south caught his eye.

“This building was right in the line of sight of this explosion here,” Wuterich says.

“You did not see fire coming from the house, correct?” asks Pelley.

“I did not see muzzle flashes coming from the house, correct,” Wuterich replies.

If he didn’t hear rounds coming from the house, how did he identify the house as a threat?

“Because that was the only logical place that the fire could come through seeing the environment there.”

Except that no jihadis were found in the house. So either Wuterich mistook the direction from which the shots were fired or the distance at which they were fired and then proceeded to act on his mistake in precisely the manner Al Qaeda allegedly hoped he would. Which, needless to say, seems a fantastically fortunate way for the “massacre bait” plan to come off. Likewise, Wuterich told 60 Minutes that he thought the five military-age Iraqi men in the white car whom he shot in the back after the IED went off might have been involved somehow. They were awfully close to the scene of the attack and they responded to the Marines’ orders by running instead of complying, as Iraqis usually do. Assuming he’s right, though, then why, per the “massacre bait” theory, were they congregated in a car without weapons instead of scattered among the local civilians and armed? And if they were in fact civilians, then, once again, this is a fantastically lucky stroke for Al Qaeda, no? Five military-age men choose to defy directions being barked at them by angry, frightened Marines and end up as collateral damage — precisely according to Al Qaeda’s plan? Remarkable.

And if this was all a propaganda ploy, where’s the jihadi video of it?

And if the evidence for all this is as compelling as the report claims, why wasn’t it made available as soon as Time magazine’s big Haditha expose was published? According to the report, the key informant who spilled the beans was arrested on December 11, 2005. Time’s report didn’t drop until March 2006. The Marines had this information at their fingertips the whole time.

The idea of “massacre bait” isn’t absurd at all, of course. The Palestinians fire from crowds of civilians all the time on Israeli troops for precisely that reason. But there are seemingly much easier ways of pulling something like this off. Imagine the opportunities at one of the gigantic processions during the Shiite holidays in Iraq. A few well positioned suicide bombers, a few gunmen stationed in buildings in surrounding areas, and you can create the same effect with much higher potential for collateral damage: the bombers detonate, the gunmen open fire, the troops down below panic and open fire, and you’re left with a lot of dead Iraqis. Exit question: What did I miss?

Update (Bryan): To me, one of the more interesting and important questions about this report is whether Murtha knew about it or not when he was prominently accusing the Haditha Marines of murder “in cold blood.” This document is one among many that are related in some way to the case, but it cuts against Murtha’s entire body of statements on Haditha. It suggests, and with some credibility, that Haditha was an enemy op that went well if not according to plan. If Murtha knew of this report, but accused the Marines of murder “in cold blood” anyway, then he had to have been aware of the possibility that he was assisting an enemy op against our troops. If he didn’t know of this report, then his informants inside the Corps were not telling him the whole story. He still should not have been out front accusing the Marines of murder, but he may have been misled by his source or sources. Which raises the question, who were his sources and why would they plant an incomplete accounting of the case with Rep. Murtha?

As to the question of jihadi video, well, who shot the video that Time magazine obtained in May 2006?

Update (bp): That last question is answered. First, the video’s producer:

Al-Haditha is 43 years old. He “created” Hammurabi 16 months ago. (Before that he worked directly under the head of Haditha’s hospital, Dr. Walid al-Obeidi, who pronounced that all the victims had been shot at close range.)

In fact, al-Haditha is one of Hammurabi’s only two members. He serves as its “Secretary General” while the only other member, Abdul-Rahman al-Mashhadani, performs as its “Chairman.”

al-Mashhadani has some interesting connections.

Now, let’s take a little closer look at one of the integral reporters who broke the Haditha story, courtesy of Sweetness and Light. It’s Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani, a Sunni who had been detained for five months because of images found on his camera and because of his “ties to the insurgents“. He had only been released a couple of weeks before he “stumbled upon” his big “scoop” on Haditha. (In fact, he had recently been arrested again, and was only released on May 31st.) Conveniently, Ali al-Mashhadani is the reporter who supplied video footage of the corpses that were supposedly killed by the Marines. His video footage is solely responsible for prompting the investigation by the military.

The two al-Mashhadanis are brothers, and one of them was deeply involved in the insurgency. What are the odds that the other, the one who wrote the initial Haditha report for Reuters, wasn’t? Pretty low, I’d say.

So if you go back and look at the totality of blog reports on Haditha, reports like Dan Riehl’s cross-referencing and comparisons of conflicting witness testimony, and then look at the Marine document that’s the basis of this post, Haditha does start to look like an enemy ambush with after-action disinfo created to turn it into a “massacre.”


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The additional IED’S weren’t unusual especially at that time, the bad guys had no way of knowing exactly what the Marines’ axis of movement would be. The scenario you sketch at the end of your post does make sense given the lens of the present. However, the fact that the Marines didn’t bag anyone in their house-to-house shouldn’t be surprising, they had no way of preventing the Jihadi shooters to egress; they had no cordon.

Why no propaganda youtube etc.? Why would they need one if there could be “issue escalation” via the correct dupe? Especially with “journalists” impatiently standing in line to be the next Seymore Hirsch reporting Mi Lai…

lpierson on October 8, 2007 at 1:12 AM

Beyond that, the plan’s too clever by half. U.S. troops had been dodging IEDs and facing enemy fire from the cover of houses for two years by the time of the Haditha incident with nary a massacre to their credit. Why would Al Qaeda expect they could bait them into one now?

Same reason when a full moon’s out, werewolves come to life and 100+ AQ will try to storm a COP or Marine Patrol Base.

You did make a good point about no terrorist video, but AQ could have been relying on the Iraqi “medical teams” to help propagate their message.

And if memory serves right, there were engagements with enemy forces later that day, taped by US aircraft. I haven’t heard of enemy forces trying to tape those engagements, though I could be wrong. If they decided not to videotape the engagement, I wouldn’t be surprised.

TheEJS on October 8, 2007 at 1:17 AM

One thing you overlook is the basic friction of all combat ops.

NOTHING ever goes completly as planned… the Jihadis may have planned to put all the IEDs in one spot… then someone screwed up…

Or, they spread them out to maximize the chance of ONE of them causing a casulty.

Guys in the car may have been either moving in or out of position… unknown…

There was also testimony I seem to remember that Marines thought there were Jihadis in the house, who may have fled out the back…

Two things you can count on in any combat situation is that both the enemy, and your own, will do strange things not in the plan.

Romeo13 on October 8, 2007 at 1:18 AM

Romeo13 on October 8, 2007 at 1:18 AM

Reminds me of “Marine Corps Rules”:
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won’t work.

I enjoy “AF Rules” 3/4 better:
3. See what’s on HBO.
4. Ask “what is a gunfight?”

TheEJS on October 8, 2007 at 1:20 AM

TheEJS on October 8, 2007 at 1:20 AM

LOL… yeah, Murphy’s Rules of War…

Like…

Freindly fire.. isn’t…

But Murphy was an optimist….

Romeo13 on October 8, 2007 at 1:26 AM

On 9/11, my friend who was there kept waiting for guys to pop out of buildings and open fire as they were trying to leave the area. One thing I think we often give them more credit for than they deserve: brains.

wordwarp on October 8, 2007 at 2:35 AM

This is old news!

The conclusion of a NewsMax story from August 25, 2006:

As NewsMax reported last June 26 (New Evidence Emerges in Haditha Case), the evidence all points to the fact that there was a planned ambush the Marines walked into. First the IED blast, then the fire from the houses that the insurgents knew would lure Wuterich’s people into initiating house clearing — an operation with which the insurgents are thoroughly familiar. They knew what would happen, saw to it that it did, and filmed the entire thing. They then shopped the video around for weeks until they found Time correspondent Tim McGurk, who swallowed the whole scenario.

According to one well-placed NewsMax source, the misleading statements by unnamed Pentagon sources are the result of the anxiety felt by high-ranking Marine Corps officers who, out of misplaced political correctness and fear of media reaction, have committed themselves to a conviction of some kind even though unwarranted by the facts.

“If there is complete exoneration, they will be severely embarrassed,” our source said.

If we want the last word on this thing, maybe it’s time to waterboard McGurk.

T J Green on October 8, 2007 at 4:01 AM

Have you noticed the MSM stories from Iraq have really quieted down. Good news doesn’t get reported as usual.
I doubt this will get any in depth coverage.

Hey Johnny Murtha, how ’bout a statement!
(crickets)

PaKeystoner on October 8, 2007 at 6:51 AM

Why would they film it? Filming it would seem to scream “This was a setup!!”

This kind of evidence (no surprise it was ignored by Murtha and the MSM… it doesn’t fit their narrative) is why we are seeing all the dropped/reduced charges. Any trial counsel worth a crap would have his defendant off in a heartbeat because this, especially in the minds of a military jury (who has probably all been to combat) will create that thing called “reasonable doubt”. (not “OJ reasonable doubt” or “Arlin Specter resonable doubt” which = we know you did it but we like you so have a nice day).

BadBrad on October 8, 2007 at 8:31 AM

When will the Marines learn that when under hostile fire after losing a fellow Marine, that they need to take rapid action that does not offend or harm anyone? I’m sure their parents would agree that after using all of their training and skill to figure out the source of incoming fire, they should make sure by sacrificing other Marines. This way real military genius’ like Murtha might be satisfied (even though super brains like he and Kerry will always find a better way, while providing support to the enemy).

Thank goodness I’m not in command, since if one of my Marines was taking fire I would simply level the entire area with a Daisy cutter, after pulling them back.

What a nutty flipping way, to fight a down and dirty war.

Hening on October 8, 2007 at 8:32 AM

Yeah Iraq news has quieted down because we have the Larry Craig scandal to cover and we have to froth at the mouth that Hillary is doing so well with Democrats and may be converting a few Republicans along the way (b.s.)

wryteacher on October 8, 2007 at 8:32 AM

Once the insurgents fire off a few rounds from a house full of civilians, there’s no reason to stick around. They can sneak out the back door. All they have to do is fire enough rounds to get the Marines’ attention. Once they are certain the Marines are going to clear the house, they can sneak off to another building and lather, rinse and repeat. This trick doesn’t have to work all the time. It only has to work once. All it takes is one hand grenade.

BohicaTwentyTwo on October 8, 2007 at 8:44 AM

This trick doesn’t have to work all the time. It only has to work once. All it takes is one hand grenade.

BohicaTwentyTwo on October 8, 2007 at 8:44 AM

and one more then willing congressman…

CrazyFool on October 8, 2007 at 9:05 AM

If the IED’s were all in one area, they could have killed too many Marines and there would be no one left to kill civilians.

csdeven on October 8, 2007 at 9:14 AM

There is no way of knowing how many operations like this have been planned by alQaeda. Maybe this set of circumstances was the only one planned perfectly enough to get the Marines to react in the manner hoped.

The enemy places no value on human life. To me, this report is plausible, especially in a war replete with stories of aQ manipulation of the news, and a media all too willing to indict and convict Americans.

Doc56 on October 8, 2007 at 9:29 AM

And if this was all a propaganda ploy, where’s the jihadi video of it?

Right here at Unraveling Haditha, in the section entitled “The Video Is A Fraud!”

And if the evidence for all this is as compelling as the report claims, why wasn’t it made available as soon as Time magazine’s big Haditha expose was published?

It was, dear. Multiple bloggers revealed the set-up back in June of 2006, back before any testimony came out. Interestingly, it bears up well with what we know now, though the above account at Unraveling Haditha still has far more detail than has been publicized even today. (AP, you even linked to a lot of the revelations bloggers were making back then.)

If you want to skip the background, scroll about half-way down to “The Video Is A Fraud!”, “The Iraqi Doctor With An Agenda”, “The Sunni Brothers With A Plan”. Or if you just want a summary, scroll down to “Putting It All Together”.

Beyond that, the plan’s too clever by half.

As Seth and Amy would say, “REALLY?!” ;)

Here’s a quote from my summary: “The Iraqis can’t seem keep all the moving parts of their story in sync…it’s hard to coordinate all the details between adults and children that are trying to corroborate each other’s bogus accounts of the so-called “massacre” that day. A little enthusiastic embellishment here, and little ad-lib there, a little on-air slip up, and some Sunni mastermind has got himself a raging headache. It’s starting to look more and more like a very clumsy set-up.”

Redhead Infidel on October 8, 2007 at 9:39 AM

“whether Murtha knew about it or not when he was prominently accusing the Haditha Marines of murder “in cold blood.” “

I’m going to venture a guess that he did. An extremely loud condemnation of actions would most likely produce the results he desired, adding fuel to the fire of the BDS gang.
I only hope we will find the truth, and imprison any who acted so callously and seditiously as we suspect murtha did.

shooter on October 8, 2007 at 11:17 AM

then, once again, this is a fantastically lucky stroke for Al Qaeda, no?

I don’t know… The way you describe it makes it sound like the marines arrived before Al Qaeda had a chance to finish setting up. For all I know, the driver of the car full of guys forgot to fill the gas tank the night before, so they had to fill up on the way. Then they got stopped before they got into position… or maybe they had nothing to do with it at all.

taznar on October 8, 2007 at 11:22 AM

Who would ever expect that muslims would lie…

BL@KBIRD on October 8, 2007 at 11:30 AM

“…whether Murtha knew about it or not when he was prominently accusing the Haditha Marines of murder “in cold blood.””

I have no doubt that Murtha DID know that report was manufactured and an Al Qaeda op when he spouted off. I’d be very surprised if Murtha was in the dark about this as the Congressional Democrats are clearly “tight” with our enemies.

georgej on October 8, 2007 at 3:13 PM

If Murtha knew it, it only makes him more of a Son of a B*tch.

Small consolation.

right2bright on October 8, 2007 at 4:56 PM

John Murtha, meet Mike Nifong.

Mike Nifong, say hello to John Murtha.

I suppose there’s no chance of getting the pair of them neighboring accommodations at Leavenworth.

I’d say they were made for each other.

cheers

eon

eon on October 8, 2007 at 5:23 PM

judas,

benedict arnold

quisling

john murtha

quite a list he’s in.

C

pk on October 8, 2007 at 6:17 PM

AllahPundit

By scattering them, you have no assurance that the Marines will pass by all three bombs, let alone that they’ll do so around the same time.

If the other route was known or anticipated route to be used to return back to the nearest base, then I can see terrorists planting IEDs there too. They do this sort of thing. They are smart. They watch the reaction, the vehicle recovery, and how and what directing the convoy goes once the casualties and vehicle are recovered. With this info, and the location of near bases, you can very easily anticipate the Marine’s actions or where they will try to go after being attacked. If not to set them off all at once, you can do alot of damage if you catch an attacked and wounded team during their recovery effort and during their evacuation further down the road or on another anticipated road they would use. It is a common tactic. They are always studying and adapting.

El Guapo on October 8, 2007 at 6:27 PM

As for baiting the massacre, you said it. It is almost as old as the history of terrorism itself, and frequently used in Palestine agaisnt hte Israelis as LGF has been following quite well.

It was, dear. Multiple bloggers revealed the set-up back in June of 2006, back before any testimony came out. – Redhead Infidel

Maybe the media wanted a massacre and there was not enough proof in their (MSM) opinion to report this as a set-up, so they got their massacre because massacres sell and set-ups don’t. Afterall, look at the Duke Lacross rape case. And now the Rush Limbaugh debacle. Classic examples of evidence suppression or ignoring and media biased.

El Guapo on October 8, 2007 at 6:34 PM

McGirk never interviewed the Marines, who ironically had prepared a similar intelligence summary in anticipation of his canceled visit.

Why the hell would he want to interview the “enemy“?

Troy Rasmussen on October 8, 2007 at 7:23 PM

If they don’t know which road the Marines would be taking, it makes sense to have three traps instead of one.

If the purpose was to trigger a massacre, they wouldn’t want to kill all the Marines, just get them to start clearing houses.

That murtha is all too willing to carry al queda water makes him a disgrace

shame on him

Chuck on October 8, 2007 at 8:52 PM

I’d love to see Murtha with his right hand up in the air, and his hand on the–umm–book thingy. He’s going to be deposed in the upcoming slander case? Does that mean he’ll be taking an oath? If so, I hope there will be pics. A great addition to the wonderful line of attacks ads the Democrats have been handing us.

smellthecoffee on October 8, 2007 at 10:48 PM

That murtha is all too willing to carry al queda water makes him a disgracetraitor

shame on him

Chuck on October 8, 2007 at 8:52 PM

fixed.

He should be tried next.

IrishEyes on October 8, 2007 at 10:51 PM

why didn’t Wuterich’s men find a single enemy combatant during their fateful house-clearing operations on Chestnut?

I’ve been following this on blogs and Newsmax since Phil Brennan has been doing a good job of reporting on it.

As for enemy combatants, I recall reading from the start that they reported taking fire. I also recall reading, when existence of the UAV video was leaked, that the video showed the terrorists going out the back of houses.

The logical thing would have been to station one or two jihadis in houses on either side of the road and then have them open fire on the convoy after the IED went off

Again, I believe it was reported that this did happen.

As for the lack of jihadi propaganda video, that would not have been the effect they wanted. Jihadi video would have shown the Marines were going after legitimate targets. The story they wanted told was that of out-of-control Marines killing anything that moved. All it took was for some whackjob with connections to AQ to shop a video around long enough for the right moron to bite.

Speaking of morons, I also recall reading that the video had been shopped to others before Time took the bait.

91Veteran on October 9, 2007 at 12:08 AM

We call it “misinformation” & “conflicting testimony.”

They call it “taqiyya.”

Miss_Anthrope on October 9, 2007 at 11:17 AM