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EXCLUSIVE!

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The Real Story of Haditha:
Never-before-revealed images
from a surveillance video

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Part two: Insurgents regroup

© Nathaniel R. Helms 2007

Watch the Haditha surveillance video described below exclusively on Defend Our Marines.
It is 43 minutes long so may require patience in downloading: Windows Media or AVI formats.

Defend Our Marines / September 15, 2007
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The Real Story of Haditha: Never-before-revealed images from a surveillance video

Part one: The ambush site: 0759
Part two: Insurgents regroup: 0814 - 0910
Part three:
The last battle: 0913 - 1544

© Nathaniel R. Helms 2007

You're seeing here it first.

These images are from a video, obtained by Defend Our Marines, that was recorded by a Scan Eagle orbiting the ambush site at Haditha on November 19, 2005. The video runs 43-minutes and is a presentation culled from more than eight hours of continuous footage.

They have never before been seen by the public.

The images are presented in chronological order using the time/date stamps created by the Scan Eye recording system as the video was being made.

The video we obtained was prepared for the upcoming Article 32 hearing of Captain Lucas McConnell, formerly the company commander of Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines at Haditha in 2005. McConnell was relieved of command in April, 2006 for alleged dereliction of duty following allegations of murder by members of his infantry company during the day-long battle in Haditha that left 24 Iraqis and one Marine dead, and 11 Marines wounded.

This presentation is intended to refute allegations made in Time magazine and other media outlets which claimed the Marines massacred the Iraqi civilians in a fit of rage following the death of LCpl Miguel “T.J.” Terrazas, one of Kilo Company’s Marines. The cable television network CNN also obtained a copy of this video presentation but for reason best known to its producers elected to disregard most of the exculpatory images contained in it.

[NOTE: Video images with enhancement boxes were altered by selecting the area and brightening it with a Photoshop tool for clarity.
The rectangular white box on each image is the camera target area, designated by the Scan Eagle operator.]

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Insurgents regroup

Images recorded by the Scan Eagle at Haditha: 0814 to 0910/ November 19, 2005

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0814 – above - Possible trigger house approximately 150 meters north of the IED ambush. Scan Eagle operator received intelligence information suggesting the IED was triggered from this house south of Route Chestnut and proceeds to the area for a closer look. Soon after the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) led by Lt. Kallop arrives it moves to this location on foot and searches this house without results.

(To find this house on Google Earth, go to: 34° 7’44.40”N 42°22’49.85”E)

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0829 - Insurgents believed to be fleeing from the presumed trigger house north of the ambush.

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0829 – Another frame showing the same two insurgents fleeing the area.

The two suspects are approximately 150 meters north of the IED blast, moving west – probably toward a large palm grove where other insurgents were gathering. This assumption is based on the reported flight path of Scan Eagle as it moved from north to south searching for the source of automatic weapons fire that Marines reported receiving enroute to the ambush site.

Meanwhile, SSgt Wuterich and his squad are still south of the suspected trigger house after clearing the first two houses involved in the controversial “assault” after the ambush was triggered.

Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore, the 3/1 S-2 (Intelligence Officer), testified that he was not controlling the Scan Eagle and had several conversations with its operators to keep them looking in the immediate battle area.

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0844 - Wide angle view of the palm grove located about 1,500 feet northeast of Route Chestnut – out of the picture at the bottom of the frame. The palm grove is located between the River Road and the Euphrates River.  

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0844 – Scan Eagle detects three insurgents in palm grove about 1.5 kilometers (1,500 feet) north of the ambush site. Only one is shown in this video capture.

The UAV was initially directed to circle the palm grove to look for the source of rifle fire from a long range ambush Marines coming to the IED site were receiving while transiting Routes Chestnut and Viper. When seen in its entirety the Scan Eagle shows a mosaic of insurgents advancing toward the Marine’s location. These were all two and three-man cells closing in on the ambush area from multiple directions through the palm grove.

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0845 – Scan Eagle spots motorcycle courier and follows him as he drives around the palm grove on so-called “Palm Grove Trail” contacting small cells of insurgents gathering under the protective umbrella of palm fronds. The road is part of a labyrinth of connecting paths and trials though the palm grove.

The motorcycle courier depicted here would circle the palm grove on partially obscured roads for the next 45 minutes contacting cells of insurgents moving toward the battle area.

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0859 - First sighting of blue car described by Cpl. Joe Haman when his squad from 4th (Weapons) Platoon was called into action in response to the attack of SSgt. Wuterich’s convoy. Barely visible above and to the left of the car is the motorcycle rider. He passed the blue car and then turned around and stopped next to it.

The 4th Squad’s mission was to go to a location identified as a “safe house” where insurgents were seen to be congregating. Haman’s squad was approx. 600 meters west of the ambush site at a Combat Outpost (COP) when the IED exploded. Haman reported intense small arms fire coming from that direction immediately after the IED exploded.

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0859 - Blue car and motorcycle stopped in palm grove for about 2 minutes.

Almost immediately insurgents came out of the trees to meet up with occupants of blue car and the motorcycle courier.

The insurgents received arms, supplies and instructions.

 

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After about 10 minutes of milling about the insurgents seem to hold a pep rally of some sort. The demonstration lasts for a minute or so before the gathering disperses.

 

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After the rally the insurgents split up into small cells and again disappear into the trees. Scan Eagle periodically tracks them as they move south toward the battle area. Then its attention shifted to vehicular traffic which seemed to be increasing in the palm grove area.

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Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
15 September 2007

 

Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our Marines. He is a Vietnam vet, journalist, combat reporter, and, most recently, author of My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).

 

Go to...
Part one: The ambush site
Part three: The last battle

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