May 2007 abduction of U.S. soldiers in Iraq
The May 2007 abduction of U.S. soldiers in Iraq occurred when Iraqi insurgents attacked a military outpost in Qarghouli, Iraq, west of Yusufiyah and south of Baghdad, killing four U.S. Army soldiers and an Iraqi soldier before capturing Specialist Alex Ramon Jimenez, Private First Class Joseph John Anzack and Private Byron Wayne Fouty on May 12, 2007. A fourth soldier, Sergeant Anthony J. Schober, was also thought to have been captured, but his remains were identified later.
Two Humvees, each carrying four soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division were sitting on a road along the Euphrates River several miles west of Mahmudiyah when the insurgents, who had been observing them for two nights, attacked. They fired guns and hurled grenades into the vehicles, killing the four Americans and an Iraqi soldier; they then set the vehicles on fire with extra fuel and took the three captured soldiers with them.
The four U.S. Army soldiers were killed in the incident were:
- Sergeant First Class James D. Connell, 40 years old
- Specialist Daniel W. Courneya, 19 years old
- Corporal Christopher E. Murphy, 21 years old
- Sergeant Anthony J. Schober, 23 years old (remains were identified later)
Search for the soldiers
A $200,000 reward was offered for information on the whereabouts of the soldiers, all of whom belonged to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division based in northern New York. On May 17, Iraqi Army forces detained 16 people described as "suspects" in the incident.
On May 19 U.S. forces stormed a facility in Al-A'amiriya and detained nine occupants, on a tip that they were related to the capture. It was announced that afternoon that one of the three soldiers was believed killed a few days after capture, while the other two remained prisoners. The same day, a search party for the missing soldiers came under attack, leaving one American soldier dead and four more wounded.
According to an Iraqi intelligence officer, two prisoners confessed to taking part in the attack, saying that a group of thirteen insurgents had attacked the outpost, and split into two group afterwards, with the ringleader taking the captured American soldiers with him. The Iraqi Army arrested more than 250 people suspected of ties to the attack.
On May 20, American forces drained a canal along the Euphrates after local villagers reported seeing body parts floating, but had no success. On May 21, another 14 people were arrested within a 9-mile radius of the original site of the kidnapping. Four others were detained by Apache Company 1st Battalion 501st Infantry Regiment and then released, in Jurf al-Sakhr.
On May 23, military officials informed the family of Joseph Anzack that a commanding officer had visually identified his body as being one pulled from the Euphrates River by Iraqi patrol boats, although DNA tests were still pending. The body had two bullet holes in the head and one in the chest.
On June 4, the Islamic State of Iraq declared in a video posted on the Internet than Fouty and Jimenez were killed because the U.S refused to stop searching for them. They also claimed that they would not give the bodies of the two soldiers to their families and that the two men were buried.
On January 8, 2008, Jimenez was promoted to Sergeant. (Soldiers who are missing in action are considered in service until known otherwise, and are promoted depending on their level of education and training in the armed forces.)
Recovery of the bodies
On July 9, 2008, the bodies of Jimenez and Fouty were found in Jurf a Sakhr, Babil Province, part of an area south of Baghdad known as the "triangle of death". The Defense Department released a statement to the public on July 11, 2008.
The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for capturing the three soldiers on May 14, stating that the attack was another reprisal for the Mahmudiyah incident in which 14-year old Abeer Qassim Hamza was raped by U.S. soldiers before being murdered along with her family. The group issued a statement, saying "What you are doing in searching for your soldiers will lead to nothing but exhaustion and headaches. Your soldiers are in our hands. If you want their safety, do not look for them."
On March 22, 2009, the U.S. Army filed a complaint against 12 Islamic State of Iraq members suspected of taking part in the ambush. All were in custody.
In July 2008, someone claiming to be Mick Fouty, Byron's biological father, posted a fake ad on Craigslist about wanting to sell his son's car, a BMW, for a fraction of its Blue Book value. In real life, Byron Fouty never owned a car. Members of Jimenez's family noticed the ad and notified Fouty's family. A criminal investigation is underway to uncover the perpetrator and find out if anyone became a victim of the fraud.
- Ahmed Kousay Altaie - A U.S. Army soldier who was captured by Iraqi insurgents and executed
- Wassef Ali Hassoun - A U.S. Marine who claimed to be captured by Iraqi insurgents; later discovered to be a hoax
- American POWs in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
- 2004 Iraq KBR convoy ambush - Capture and execution of Keith Matthew Maupin, an U.S. Army soldier
- June 2006 abduction of U.S. soldiers in Iraq - Capture and execution of Kristian Menchaca and Thomas L. Tucker, two U.S. Army soldiers
- Karbala provincial headquarters raid - Capture and execution of Brian Freeman, Jacob Fritz, Jonathan Chism and Shawn Falter, four U.S. Army soldiers
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- Detroit News, Saturday July 19, 2008 http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008807190372