2004 Fallujah ambush

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31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush
Part of Iraq War
Type Ambush
Location Fallujah, Iraq
Target Blackwater USA personnel
Date March 31, 2004 (2004-03-31)
Executed by Iraqi insurgents
Casualties 4 killed

The 2004 Fallujah ambush occurred on March 31, 2004, when Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy containing four American contractors from the private military company Blackwater USA who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS.[1]

The ambush[edit]

The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Mike Teague, were killed and dragged from their vehicles. Their bodies were beaten and burned, with their charred corpses then dragged through the city streets before being hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates River.


Photos of the event, showing jubilant Iraqis posing with the charred corpses, were then released to news agencies worldwide, which caused a great deal of indignation in the United States. This prompted the announcement of a counter-insurgency campaign in the city.


The ambush led to the First Battle of Fallujah, a U.S.-led operation to retake control of the city. However, the battle was halted mid-way for political reasons, resulting in an insurgent victory.[citation needed] Seven months later, in November 2004, a second attempt at capturing the city, the Second Battle of Fallujah, proved successful.

2005 lawsuit[edit]

The families of the victims filed suit (Helvenston et al. v. Blackwater Security) against Blackwater USA for wrongful death in January 2005.

Popular Culture[edit]

The 2014 film The Blue Man,[2] which is related to The New York Times article titled "Uncovering Iraq's Horrors in Desert Graves"[3] written by John F. Burns, mentions about birth defects caused by depleted uranium bullets which were used during the operation to re-take the city.