Camp Bucca

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FOB Camp Bucca
near Umm Qasr, Iraq
Camp Bucca Internment Facility DVIDS84877.jpg
Families wait at the Welcome Center to schedule a visitation to see their relatives who are being held at the theater internment facility at Camp Bucca.
TypeInternment Facility
Site information
Controlled byIraq
Site history
Expansions 2004, 2005, 2007, 2007–2008
Built byU.S. Army Engineers,
U.S. Air Force Prime BEEF (Base Engineer Emergency Force) teams
Kellogg Brown and Root
Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion TWO (NPDB2)
United States Army Corps of Engineers
United States Navy Seabees
In use2003–2009
Battles/warsIraq War
Garrison information
OccupantsUp to 20.000 Iraqi prisoners

Camp Bucca (Arabic: سجن بوكا‎) was a detention facility[1] maintained by the United States military in the vicinity of Umm Qasr, Iraq. As of June 2011, a group of entrepreneurial Iraqis and Americans are re-building Camp Bucca as Basra Gateway, a logistic center. The facility was initially called Camp Freddy and used by British Forces to hold Iraqi prisoners of war.[2] After being taken over by the U.S. military (800th Military Police Brigade) in April 2003, it was renamed after Ronald Bucca, a NYC Fire Marshal who died in the 11 September 2001 attacks.[2]

Camp Bucca was built on a site where before the tallest structure of Iraq, a 492 metres high TV mast stood, which might have been used for propaganda TV to Iran.[3][4][5]

After the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, many detainees from Abu Ghraib were transferred to Camp Bucca. After a substantial turn-over in the chain of command at Camp Bucca and substantial amendments to camp policy, the US military held up Camp Bucca as an example of how a model detention facility should be run.[6] A majority of the detainees were reportedly housed in cinder block housing units with wooden roofing rather than tents, while other detainees were held in hasty tent compounds until 2009. Cigarettes, tea, and the opportunity to listen to radio and T.V. programs were used as incentives for good behavior. Some detainees were allowed family visitation from Iraqi relatives not held at the facility. Detainees were provided the opportunity for basic education including reading, writing (both English and Arabic), arithmetic, basic geography and art. Detainees organized and administered their own classes in subjects like literacy and religion, and competed in soccer matches. Soccer matches were encouraged to attempt to promote cooperation and trust between every aspect involved in the camp.

Additionally, the internment facility had its own U.S. Army run hospital to serve detainees. It offered comprehensive healthcare. There was an emergency room, internal medicine clinic, optometry clinic, psychiatric services, orthopedic/surgical unit, physical therapy clinic, pharmacy, dental clinic, dietary services and more. Detainees were screened by medics and doctors at the wire, that was right out where the detainees are housed, and then triaged to the hospital for further care. Some detainees were flown to larger medical facilities in Iraq to receive cataract surgery. U.S. Army medical staff was also given training on how to provide care while respecting Muslim traditions.

Militants regularly launched rockets into Camp Bucca. The rockets are widely believed to be often provided and set up by Iranians who teach the militants to launch them hours after they've returned to their nearby country (about 40 km (25 mi)).[citation needed] The lethal explosions averaged around 5 per month in a period from September 2007 to late April 2008, with the most intense barrage coming during The Ramadan period (October) when 12 aerial bombs (Believed to be stolen from a British camp in nearby (about 55–65 km (35–40 mi)) al Basrah)[citation needed] landed in a span of 8 days. On 17 September 2009, The US military announced that the base would be closed.[7] In December 2010, the U.S. military handed the base to the government of Iraq, who, on the same day, gave Kufan Group of Iraq a license to invest in the new Basra Gateway, to provide a 21st-century logistics hub for Iraq's port.

Significant events[edit]


During the months of April and May 2003 two prisoners were shot, one killed, by soldiers of the 314th MP Company. One was fired on during a riot, after he attempted to assault SFC Sonny Franco and SGT Shawn Miller during feeding of the prisoners. The prisoner attacked SFC Franco and SGT Miller with a iron tent rod used to secure the tent to the ground. Shot in the chest by both SGT NG and SPC Martinez the Prisoner of War(POW) was pronounced dead minutes later. On a separate occasion a second prisoner attacked SFC Nash(whom discharged several warning shots), SGT Miller and SPC Garcia with a sharpened piece of metal re-bar removed from their housing tents. He was struck in the elbow and recovered from his wound. The other was fired on by a soldier as he attempted to crawl through barbed wire to obtain a pistol belt (which later turned out to be empty) left behind by a battalion MP when rioting prisoners threw rocks. The prisoner was struck in the leg and abandoned his attempt to reach the pistol belt.[citation needed]

On 18 May 2003, U.S. military forces mistakenly released Mohammed Jawad An-Neifus from the Camp Bucca. An-Neifus is suspected of being involved in the mass murder of thousands of Iraqi Shias whose remains were later found at a mass gravesite in the southern city of al-Mahawil.[8]


On 7 January 2004, a detainee escaped from Camp Bucca. Investigating officers concluded that 'the detainee escaped through an undetected weakness in the wire. Contributing factors were inexperienced guards, lapses in accountability, complacency, lack of leadership presence, poor visibility, and lack of clear and concise communication between the guards and the leadership.'

On 12 January 2004, 7 detainees escaped during the night, 5 were recaptured.

On 26 January 2004 3 detainees escaped at night during a period of intense fog. An investigation 'concluded that the detainees crawled under a fence when visibility was only 10–15 meters due to fog'.[9]

On 19 October 2004, A 26-year-old security internee died of unknown causes.[10]


On 5 January 2005, a 31-year-old security internee died of what appears to be natural causes.[11]

In April 2004, Compound 4. A riot broke out in which detainees threw rocks and fashioned weapons out of tent poles. Detainees held a military soldier hostage until the riot was dispelled by the use of lethal force. Four detainees were killed and six were injured. As is standard procedure in all cases of prison riots and the use of lethal force, the matter was investigated by the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division. The investigation concluded that a detainee leader had incited the riot by making an accusation that camp soldiers were stepping on Korans during a search for contraband. No soldiers were found guilty of any wrongdoing during the incident.[12]

On 5 February 2005, the tabloid paper New York Daily News reported that units at Camp Bucca organized and held a mud wrestling party on 30 October 2004. The party was organized by members of the 160th MP Battalion[13] and attended by members of the incoming 105th MP Battalion, who were arriving to relieve the members of the 160th. At least three female GIs stripped to their undergarments and wrestled in a kiddie-pool full of sand and water in front of a crowd of male GIs, and one GI flashed her breasts. About 30 photos of the party, including one of the flasher, have been leaked to the press. The flasher, 19-year-old PFC Deanna Allen, was demoted for indecent exposure, and reportedly later discharged from the military.

On 4 March 2005, Camp Bucca was targeted by 106 mm rocket fire directed from the port of Umm Qasr. Although no military personnel were injured or killed, a Third Country National took shrapnel to the leg. Four rockets targeted Camp Bucca, but only one detonated within the boundaries of the base.

On 25 March 2005, a complete escape tunnel was discovered, though no prisoners had yet managed to escape.[14]

On 1 April 2005, two Iraqis and four US prison guards were wounded in a riot at Camp Bucca near the southern town of Umm Qasr.[15]

On 15 April 2005, a dispute broke out between two groups of detainees at one of the compounds of the Camp Bucca theater internment facility at approximately 11 pm. The fight left one detainee dead, was confined between the detainees in one compound, and was not directed at U.S. forces.[16]

On 16 April 2005, 11 detainees escaped Camp Bucca by cutting through in the facility's exterior fence and crawling through the unfilled portion of a previously discovered 180-metre (600 ft) escape tunnel.[14] The compound's guards, members of the United States Air Force, were unable to see the detainees cutting through the wire due to tower location. All 11 detainees were later captured by the Iraqi police and returned to Camp Bucca.

On 19 April 2005, a 51-year-old male security detainee at Camp Bucca died of natural causes.[17]

On 14 May 2005, a 30-year-old male detainee at Camp Bucca died from a heart attack.[18]

On 23 May 2005, a fuel truck collapsed the roof of an escape tunnel being dug out of Camp Bucca.[citation needed]

On 27 July 2005, a 30-year-old male security detainee at Camp Bucca died as a result of renal failure and other organ failure due to chronic malaria.[19]

On 28 September 2005, SGT Steve Morin Jr.[20] assigned to the 111th Engineer Battalion[21] and Air Force Airman 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson[22] assigned to the 17th Security Forces Squadron[23] stationed at Camp Bucca were killed in action when an improvised explosive device detonated near their convoy vehicle near the Iraqi town of Safwan.

In October 2005, the International Committee of the Red Cross began the Family Visitation Allowance Program at Camp Bucca. The program provides monetary assistance to families of detainees held at Camp Bucca to help cover part of the traveling and hotel costs required to visit the facility. The benefits are calculated based on the distance between their home and the city of Umm Qasr.[24] In December 2006 a similar program was initiated at Camp Shaibe, the British internment facility in Shaibah, near Al Basrah.[25]

On 5 October 2005, a 43-year-old male security detainee died of a heart attack.[26]

On 13 October 2005, eligible detainees at Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib prison and Camp Cropper were allowed to vote in the Iraqi Constitutional Referendum. The rest of the country voted on 15 October 2005.[27]

On 23 October 2005, a 73-year-old male security detainee died of natural causes at Camp Bucca.[28]

On 25 October 2005, it was reported that SPC Christopher T. Monroe[29] assigned to the Military Police Battalion[30] stationed at Camp Bucca was killed when he was struck by a vehicle operated by Erinys International while pulling security for the United States convoy which was stopped due to an Iraqi vehicle which flipped over while trying to avoid the convoy in the vicinity of Al Basrah, Iraq. In October 2007, a lawsuit was filed in Houston, Texas by the father of SPC Monroe against the British private security firm Erinys International. In the lawsuit, Monroe's father alleges that his son actually died after he was struck by a vehicle operated by Erinys International. The lawsuit alleges Erinys personnel passed through a checkpoint where they were warned that there were more troops ahead of them but despite the warning proceeded in the dark at a high rate of speed with only parking lights on until they struck Monroe. Monroe was dismounted and standing guard near the 5-ton vehicle he was driving providing security after the convoy he was in stopped to render assistance to an Iraqi who had been involved in a car accident. The force of the accident sheared Monroe's right leg off and threw him 30–40 feet in the air. Monroe later "died on a Medavac helicopter en route to Shalib Airbase". In a statement in response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the company stated "It was a very tragic accident for which Erinys and its employees have been thoroughly exonerated".[31][32]

On 5 November 2005, a 65-year-old male security detainee died of natural causes at Camp Bucca.[33]

On 12 December 2005, nearly 90 percent of all eligible security detainees in Multi-National Forces-Iraq Theater Internment Facilities participated in the democratic vote on the Iraqi National Ballot.[34]

On 23 December 2005, Camp Bucca received rocket fire from behind an area dubbed the "Sniper House"; no injuries were reported.


On 1 January 2006, 3 detainees escaped Camp Bucca by cutting through the facilities exterior fence. Two of the detainees were later captured by the Iraqi police and returned to Camp Bucca.

On 7 January 2006, SGT Nathan Field[35] and SPC Robert Johnson[36] assigned to the 414th Military Police Company were killed in a non-combat vehicle accident just outside Camp Bucca.[37]

On 7 March 2006, a 36-year-old detainee died of natural causes.[38]

On 15 March 2006, Camp Bucca received rocket fire; no injuries were reported.

On 26 March 2006, a 25-year-old detainee died as the result of injuries suffered in a detainee on detainee fight.

11 May 2006, detainees initiated a multiple compound riot that included the burning of their living quarters, burning a Humvee and assaults on other detainees. The reported cause of the riot was detainees being unhappy that their housing areas were searched and that a Qu'ran with Takferi writing had been placed in a clear evidence bag that the detainees presumed was a trash bag. The riot started around 7 am in compound 10. The initial incident was stopped within an hour but around 11 am the TIF exploded with multiple compound riots. Multiple weapons were found during initial search, and based on the detainees use of weapons against the guard force, multiple weapons were confiscated during additional searches initiated because of the riot.[39]

On 30 May 2006, Camp Bucca received rocket fire; no injuries were reported.

On 2 June 2006, the Army opened an Iraqi-based detention center training facility at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri called Camp Charlie. This new facility is modeled after the theater internment facility at Camp Bucca. A similar facility was opened at Fort Leavenworth in August 2006.[40]

On 1 July 2006, Airman 1st Class Carl Jerome Ware Jr.[41] of the 886th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron assigned to Camp Bucca died of non-combat related injuries. Initial reports stated that the airmen was killed by an accidental discharge of a gun being cleaned by another airman;[42] however in February 2007, it was reported that Airman 1st Class Kyle J. Dalton, of the 15th Security Forces Squadron, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, had been charged on 30 November 2007 with one count of murder and failure to obey a lawful order in relation to the shooting. Dalton also faced a charge of assault for a separate incident that occurred on 30 June 2006 involving Ware and another airman.[43] Dalton, who was deployed in the Middle East at the time the charges were brought, had an Article 32 hearing and was Court-martialed on 23 April 2007 at Langley Air Force Base.[44][45] As part of a plea bargain deal, Dalton pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and violating a lawful general regulation by drawing or aiming a firearm when deadly force was unnecessary. Dalton was sentenced to 10 years in prison, given a dishonorable discharge, reduced in rank from Senior Airman to Airman Basic and ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances. Dalton admitted to the court that he tracked Ware with his pistol in the barracks and pulled the trigger thinking the weapon was unloaded. He also admitted that he had previously aimed a loaded M-4 carbine at another airman.[46][47]

In July 2006, it was announced that the Army's inspector general had requested an investigation to determine if an Anti-Deficiency Act violation occurred during the building of the detention facility.[48] The Anti-Deficiency Act provides that no one can obligate the Government to make payments for which money has not already been authorized.[49] The inspector general's report was released to Congress on 30 January 2007[50] and in it concluded: "Army personnel associated with funding of Phases I and II construction of the Internment Facility at Camp Bucca, Iraq, did not implement sufficient controls to ensure military compliance with applicable laws and regulations. As a result, there were two ADA violations with the FY 2004 Army Operation and Maintenance Appropriation. DoD OGC (Office of General Counsel) is completing its review and expects to sign out the report to the DoD Comptroller in the second quarter of FY 2007."[51]

On 12 October 2006, an Iraqi detainee died from a heart attack. The detainee had been hospitalized since 5 October after complaining of chest pains. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.[52]

On 16 October, two airmen from the 586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Area Security Operations team assigned to Camp Bucca suffered injuries when an improvised explosive device exploded near their Humvee in the vicinity of Safwan. Both airmen survived the attack and were later awarded the Purple Heart medal.

On 19 October 2006, an Iraqi detainee died from natural causes.

On 25 November 2006, American forces announced that a detainee died of natural causes. The detainee had been hospitalized since 23 November after complaining of chest pains.[53]

On 4 December 2006, American forces announced that a detainee died of natural causes. The detainee had been treated in the facility's hospital since 17 November 2006 for kidney and heart problems. Including two detainees that died the previous week at Camp Cropper, this was the fourth detainee in coalition custody to die within a two-week period.

On 24 December 2006, Two Detainees attempted an escape from one of the U.S. Navy staffed compounds during the dense seasonal fog. One of detainees was allegedly an I.E.D. maker.[54]


On 17 January 2007, US Navy Petty Officer Second Class Joseph D. Alomar,[55] a member of Navy Provisional Detainee BN 2, assigned to Camp Bucca died of non-combat related injuries. The sailor is reported to have died from a gunshot wound to the head.[56][57][58]

On 11 February 2007 SPC Dennis L. Sellen Jr.[59] of the 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow soldier who was cleaning his weapon after a mission. The incident is currently being investigated.[60][61]

On 2 March 2007 SPC Christopher D. Young,[62] 20, of Los Angeles, Calif., died in Safwan, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, California Army National Guard, San Pedro, California.[63]

On 15 March 2007 military officials announced plans to once again expand Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper. Officials stated that this increase in capacity would be necessary to handle the detainees generated from the increased security operations in Baghdad. At the time of the report, Camp Bucca's detainee population stood at 13,800.[64]

On 26 April 2007, an Iraqi detainee died from what MNFI reports as injuries sustained during an apparent assault by other detainees. He is reported to have been the sixth detainee to have died in MNF-I TIFs as a result of detainee on detainee violence in the past year.[65]

On 9 June 2007, 6 detainees were killed, 68 wounded and one Iraqi Corrections Officer was wounded when a rocket struck Compound 8, in the Theater Internment Facility located at Camp Bucca.[66] On 10 June 2007, a seventh detainee, who had been medically evacuated to Balad Air Base, died from wounds he sustained in the attack.[67] On 23 June 2007 an eighth detainee who had been hospitalized in critical condition since the attack, died from cardiac arrest.[68]

On 21 June 2007 a security detainee died of cardiac arrest during a routine medical transfer from Camp Cropper to Camp Bucca.[69]

On 25 June 2007 a soldier assigned to the 178th Infantry was injured when the vehicle he was driving drove over a buried explosive.[70]

On 1 July 2007, a detainee died from what is being reported as natural causes while in the intensive care unit at the Theater Internment Facility hospital at Camp Bucca.[71]

On 12 July 2007, a detainee died from what is being reported as injuries suffered in an assault by other detainees. This is the second detainee in coalition forces custody to die from detainee on detainee violence within a week.[72][73] On the same day, the Associated Press reported that Camp Bucca was among several sites in Iraq that had sensitive information posted on non-secure web sites. The Camp Bucca documents, posted on the web site of CH2M Hill Companies of Meridian, Colorado revealed locations of where prisoners are held, locations of fuel tanks, and the locations of security fences, guard towers and other security measures. The company has subsequently added password protection to its site.[74]

In August 2007, two separate news articles reported Camp Bucca's detainee populate stood at approximately 20,000 inmates.[75][76]

In October 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced it had suspended its visits to Camp Bucca due to the deteriorating security situation in the area. The ICRC visits all detention facilities in Iraq to monitor the conditions detainees are receiving and make recommendations where they perceive improvements could be made. To maintain their neutral status, they refuse coalition security when traveling in Iraq, which causes them to occasionally suspend visits when they deem conditions too hazardous for their personnel.[77]

On 31 October 2007, it was announced that Camp Bucca would be expanded once again to increase its capacity from 20,000 to 30,000 detainees. The $110 million project will be overseen by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and would include $17.6 million retrofit of "13 existing compounds to add concrete pads to prevent tunneling, better segregation areas, and better shower and latrine facilities" as well as new housing, a waste water treatment plant, a water treatment plant and a $3.2 million brick factory for prisoner labor.[78]

On 27 Oct 2007, a Security Team was traveling from Umm Qsar when they came under attack by RPGs. One US Soldier was killed and three US military members were injured.

On 20 November 2007, a security convoy operated by personnel from the 887th ESFS was traveling north of Safwaan city, Iraq from Camp Bucca was struck by an IED.

On 23 November 2007, a riot originated in compound 31 and spread to compound 32. The guards were able to quell the riots and there were no casualties.


On 1 January 2008, the base was attacked with rocket fire launched from the nearby city of Umm Qasr and no injuries were reported. British counter artillery returned fire as a show of force. The returned fire landed in empty desert close to Umm Qasr. USAF QRF units also responded to search the area for the personnel responsible for launching the rockets at the base.

On 8 January 2008, a security convoy operated by personnel from the 887th ESFS traveling to Umm Qasr, Iraq from Camp Bucca was struck by an EFP/IED, injuring three coalition forces and a local national.

On 14 February 2008, The 72nd Military Police Company arrived at Camp Bucca, They took over control of the Detainee Air Transportation Mission (DAT) from the USAF.[clarification needed][citation needed]

On 24 February 2008, Camp Bucca was attacked with rocket fire that killed one AAFES employee and wounded several other civilian contractors. The rocket attack came less than a week after a convoy from Camp Bucca was attacked by an improvised explosive device. No one was seriously injured in that attack.[79]

In April, 2008, Camp Bucca's DFAC(Chow Hall) came under small arms fire. All those inside sought out the exit and no casualties or injuries were reported. The incident was reported as ricochets from weapons checks.

On 13 June 2008, members of the 887 ESFS, while standing down on a possible IED, came under a complex attack which included a VBIED. This type of attack was the first of its kind reported near Camp Bucca, and no injuries were reported.[citation needed]

In July, 2008, Camp Bucca was hit with 2-3 rounds of indirect fire near the north berm. No casualties or injuries were reported.

On 30 July 2008, members of the 586th ESFS called in 3 individuals running outside the berm to the Tomahawk Tactical Operations Center(TOC). Tomahawk disregarded the individuals as goat herders. Hours later the alarm sounded and it was discovered that 3 detainees escaped from the TIF. Members of the 586th began searching the interior and exterior of the FOB for the escapees. After nearly 3 20+ hour days of tireless searches and, manning extra posts and patrols, only one escapee was found, deceased outside the berm. The search was called off.

In August 2008, it was announced that 6 sailors had been charged and would face courts-martial for abusing detainees at Camp Bucca. The abuse allegedly occurred on 14 May and involved beatings of two detainees and the sealing of eight detainees in a cell filled with pepper spray while the cells' ventilation was secured. The abuse apparently occurred after some detainees attacked guards, spitting on them and throwing containers filled with human waste at them. Seven other sailors received non-judicial punishment for failing to report the incidents. Two had their charges dismissed, and the remainder were reduced in rank or faced suspended punishment.[80][81] In November 2008, the 6 sailors faced an article 32 hearing at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on charges of conspiracy, cruelty and maltreatment and making false official statements. Damage Controlman 2nd Class Adam M. White, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and assault and was sentenced to 89 days confinement and reduction of two pay grades. Adams claims he and other sailors participated in the beating of two detainees at the direction of Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Tracy Necaise because the prisoners spit and threw feces at guards. Necaise's attorney blamed upper-level Navy officers for the incident because they assigned the sailors to Camp Bucca without any prior experience working in law enforcement or detention facilities. Necaise and the remaining sailors pleaded not guilty and could face trial in 2009.[82][83]


On 17 September 2009 Camp Bucca closed down detainee operations.

The "SUPERMAX" security row known as "Waterfront" manned by the US Navy NPDB (Naval Provisional Detainee Battalion) was in charge of the custody of the most dangerous detainees, and the last to be closed, with Compound 16 having the remaining 180 detainees either transferred to the U.S. military's Camp Cropper detention facility near Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) or to an Iraqi, Navy, and Army manned prison at Camp Taji north of Baghdad.

NPDB 6 was attached to the US Army 306th Military Police Battalion, commanded by LTC Kenneth King. This was the last Navy unit to handle detainee operations in Camp Bucca.

Role in the growth of ISIS[edit]

Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[84] The detention of large numbers of Ba'athists and Islamists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the latter with the organizational skills of the former.[85][86] Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIL; Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, spokesperson and senior ISL leader; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi's deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL's expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader.[85] Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.[87]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°04′01″N 47°52′29″E / 30.06694°N 47.87472°E / 30.06694; 47.87472