The Allegations  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Features
From AJR,   June/July 2006

The Allegations   


Around 7:15 a.m. on November 19, 2005, a Humvee driven by Lance Cpl. Miguel "T.J." Terrazas was hit by a roadside bomb. Terrazas was killed and two other Marines were injured. According to statements made through lawyers and reported by various media outlets, the Marines in the convoy stopped and soon noticed a white car near the bomb site. The four or five men inside ran when the Marines ordered them to stop. The soldiers opened fire, killing the men. Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the squad leader, told his attorney that his men took fire from one of the houses and began a sweep, looking for the insurgents. The civilian deaths were an unfortunate result, his attorney said.

Witnesses in Haditha and unnamed sources familiar with the investigation have told reporters a very different story. Witnesses say the Marines entered three houses and killed 19 civilians, some begging for their lives as they were shot. They characterize the event as revenge killings after the death of Terrazas. Nine-year-old Eman Waleed, who survived the raid on the first house, told Time magazine that Marines shot and killed seven people, including her grandfather, grandmother, mother and brother. Eight people were killed in a second house, including young girls, and four men were killed in a third. Marine officials say a gun was found in the third house, and the troops detained men found in another house. Witnesses have said that the men in the car were college students and their taxi driver and that they were shot while trying to back away from the scene. Media organizations have reported from unnamed sources that the bodies were found next to the car, suggesting the men didn't run.

L.R.

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