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 Jason 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 who were killed in the incident were:
- Sergeant First Class James David Connell, 40 years old
- Specialist Daniel Weston Courneya, 19 years old
- Corporal Christopher Edward Murphy, 21 years old
- Sergeant Anthony Jason 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 that 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 November 29, 2007, Fouty was promoted to Private First Class. (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.) On January 8, 2008, Jimenez was promoted to Sergeant.
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.
In October 2008, Fouty's parents revealed the autopsy results of their son and Jimenez. It was determined that they were tortured. Finger bones were found wrapped in a blanket, indicating their fingers were severed sometime before their deaths. Also, according to the autopsy report, Pvt. Fouty’s nose had been broken but had "well healed prior to death." Despite the ISI's claim that they killed Fouty and Jimenez in July 2007, Fouty's stepfather revealed that Fouty and Jimenez were actually killed in September 2007.
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.
- 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, a 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
- "Troops find missing U.S. soldiers' ID cards - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "ID cards of missing soldiers shown on insurgent Web site - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Fort Drum recalls missing, dead soldiers". MSNBC.
- "Spec Byron Wayne Fouty". FindAGrave.
- Susman, Tina (July 19, 2007). "Search for U.S. soldiers, answers after May attack". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- ABC News: 2 of 3 Missing U.S. Soldiers May Be Alive
- IC Publications
- "4,000 troops broaden hunt for captured U.S. soldiers". Denver Post. May 20, 2007.
- Petraeus: 2 abducted soldiers believed alive - Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times
- "Search for U.S. soldiers targets 9-mile radius - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Video: Missing soldiers killed; search to continue". USA Today. June 5, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Yadira Betances (2008-01-10). "Missing soldier in Iraq promoted to sergeant". The Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- Detroit Free Press, Saturday July 12, 2008
- Bodies Of Missing Soldiers Found In Iraq : NPR
- Al-Qaida to U.S.: Stop searching for missing soldiers : Local News : The Rocky Mountain News
- "U.S. files complaint against suspects in '07 Iraq ambush". March 22, 2009.