Faylaka Island attack
|Faylaka Island attack|
A Lithuanian map of Faylaka Island, in relation to mainland Kuwait and neighboring countries.
|Location||Faylaka Island, Kuwait|
|Date||October 8, 2002
11:00 a.m. (UTC+03:00)
|Target||U.S. Marines on a training exercise|
|Motorized small arms assault|
|Weapons||Kalashnikov rifles, pickup truck|
|Deaths||3 (including two attackers)|
|1 U.S. Marine wounded (WIA)|
|Victims||1 U.S. Marine killed †|
|Perpetrators||Anas Al Kandari and Jassem al-Hajiri †|
|Assailants||2 armed gunmen|
|Motive||Jihadism and anti-Americanism|
On October 8, 2002 two Kuwaiti citizens with ties to jihadists in Afghanistan attacked a group of unarmed United States Marines conducting a training exercise on Faylaka Island, killing one of them before being killed themselves by armed sentries. The attackers were reported to have served as volunteers with the Taliban, in Afghanistan, prior to the U.S. invasion of the country in response to the September 11 attacks of 2001.
The Marines were on a training exercise on Faylaka Island, an island off the coast of Kuwait. One U.S. Marine was killed and another was seriously injured. The two Kuwaiti attackers were also killed themselves after U.S. Marines returned fire in self-defense. The Marines' rifles were loaded with blank rounds for the training exercise, but they were able to engage their Kuwaiti attackers with their pistols. Prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991 the island was a resort, but in 2002 the war damage had not been repaired.
In October 2002, an element of approximately 150 U.S. Marines from India Company and Lima Company of Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were on Faylaka Island as part of Eager Mace, a joint annual U.S. and Kuwaiti amphibious assault military training exercise. Eager Mace had begun the previous month and had 2,000 U.S. Marines participating in it in total. For the part of the exercise that took place on Faylaka Island, it was conducted by U.S. forces only.
Faylaka Island was a small island belonging to Kuwait, located in the Kuwait Bay off the eastern coastline of mainland Kuwait proper. During the Persian Gulf War of 1991, forces of the Iraqi Army had invaded and occupied the island, severely damaging it in the process. More than 11 years later, a lot of the damage had not been repaired and some buildings still had graffiti painted on them from the war.
The Marines on Faylaka had left southern California's Camp Pendleton in June 2002 and had arrived in Kuwait via the navy warship USS Denver (LPD-9) after making port calls in several different foreign countries. In addition to the usual training duties that were part of the scheduled exercise, the Marines were also practicing for a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq amid United Nations deliberations over an alleged Iraqi regime chemical weapons program, deliberations which, if proved unfruitful, would almost certainly mean said invasion would occur.
Aside from the Marines, there was a small civilian caretaker presence on the island consisting of Kuwaiti citizens, as well as a few shop owners, which surprised the Marines a little bit as they were under the impression that the island was deserted. Nevertheless, the Marines felt very safe and secure on the island as Kuwait was an ostensibly U.S.-allied country, the Kuwaiti government told them it was safe, and there was a small contingent of Kuwaiti police there as well. In addition, the Kuwaiti civilians with whom the Marines interacted with were friendly and were ostensibly glad to have U.S. military forces in their country.
On October 7, two Kuwaiti men, Anas Al Kandari and Jassem al-Hajiri, sat in a small white-with-red stripes Nissan pickup truck that they had rented and reconnoitered the Marines training from a distance. They had spent some time at a local mosque a few days before and had reconnoitered the Marines the day prior as well. The two men were Jihadis who had received terrorist training in Afghanistan.
The following day, October 8, was a hot and sunny day on the island. At approximately, 11:00 a.m. local time, some Marines were taking a break from official duties and resting at a beach-side campsite during a lull in the training. They thus not have live ammunition with their rifles for training purposes, although a few commissioned officers and senior NCOs carried Beretta M9 sidearms loaded with live ammunition. Soon thereafter, the two gunmen began shooting at the Marines with Kalashnikov rifles, specifically targeting two Marines playing a makeshift game of baseball during a rest in the training. One nearby Marine became disgruntled after hearing the gunfire, mistaking it for that of his fellow Marines, but soon realized otherwise.
The gunfire by the two assailants struck the two baseball-playing Marines as well as a tent and dozens of cases of soft drinks. After shooting at the Marines initially, reports state the men then drove to another location and then shot again. According to one account, a Marine sentry returned fire with an M16A2 rifle and another Marine returned fire with a sidearm, with the former's gunfire disabling the truck. The two Kuwaiti gunmen were shot, with one of them exiting the vehicle on the passenger side with several gunshot wounds. The senior-most enlisted Marine on the island, First Sergeant Timothy Ruff, then shot the gunman several more times, killing him. Ruff and another Marine, First Sergeant Wayne A. Hertz, then extracted the driver of the truck from out of the vehicle. That gunman also died. Before the second gunman died, the Marines walked up to his body and stood over him. Surrounded by U.S. Marines, the mortally-wounded gunman laid dying on the ground and muttered a few phrases in Arabic before finally expiring.
Radio operator Lance Corporal George R. Simpson, Jr., a 21-year-old Ohioan, was shot in the arm and Lance Corporal Antonio J. "Tony" Sledd, a 20-year-old Floridian, was shot in the chin and abdomen. An avid baseball fan from Florida's Hillsborough County, Sledd was playing an impromptu baseball game with Lance Corporal Simpson when the former was shot by one of the black-bearded gunmen at point-blank range in the back.
Within ten minutes, a U.S. Army UH-60 medical helicopter arrived and flew the two wounded Marines to the mainland for treatment at an army hospital on the mainland in Kuwait City. Sledd was reportedly in good spirits when he was taken away by the helicopter, but he was ultimately mortally wounded and subsequently died. However, Simpson manage to survive his wounds and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal later that month by a general.
After al-Kandari and al-Haijiri were killed by the Marines, reports indicate that the Marines then took incoming gunfire from a nearby fishing village, with some of them jumping into the water to avoid being shot, as cover was scarce on a sandy beach. A CH-47 helicopter arrived and distributed ammunition to the Marines, who then went into the town to fight the village-based attackers. Eight hours later, the Marines concluded and left.
After the attack the Marines locked down the area and 31 civilians were detained for investigation, including two medical students suspected of being linked to gunman al-Kandari. Local Kuwaitis who knew the two gunmen personally considered them to be martyrs after the attack.
In an unrelated incident, three U.S. Marines were injured in an explosion a couple of days later on October 10 in Udairi, Kuwait.
Though the Iraq War itself would not begin until a few months later in March of the following year, Sledd is considered by some to be the first U.S. combat casualty of the war, as he was killed by hostile fire while training for its commencement. His death became a rallying cry for some of the Marines who knew him, who said, "Remember how and why Sledd died!" Sledd was posthumously advanced to the rate of corporal. Eight days after the attack, the U.S. government passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, which legally cleared the way for the U.S. to invade Iraq, which it in March did the following year.
Guantanamo captives alleged to have an association with the Faylaka Island attack
Guantanamo captives alleged to have an association with the Faylaka Island attack ISN Name Nationality Alleged association 196 Musa Bin Ali Bin Said al Amri Saudi Arabian
- One of detainee's aliases was in another hard drive believed to belong to members of the suspected al Qaida cell involved with the October 2002 attack on US Marines in Faylaka Island.
- The detainee's name was listed on a computer seized from members of the suspected al Qaida cell involved in the October 2002 attack on United States Marines on Faylaka Island.
226 Anwar al Nurr Saudi Arabian
- The detainee's name and other information was found in a 2 September 2002 "chat session" found on the hard drive of a computer confiscated from members of the suspected al Qaida cell involved in the October 2002 attack on U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island.
- The detainee's name was discovered as part of information that was recovered from hard drives, which were seized from the suspected al Qaida cell that attacked the United States Marines on Faylaka Island in October 2002.
234 Khalid Mohammed al Zaharni Saudi Arabian
- The detainee's name was found under a chat session on a computer hard drive seized from the suspected al Qaida cell that attacked the U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island in October 2002.
568 Adil Zamil Abdull Mohssin Al Zamil Kuwaiti
- The detainee was invited to the house of a man involved in the October 2002 attack on U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island, Kuwait.
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One American Marine was killed today and another injured when they were attacked while training on an island off the coast of Kuwait. Department of Defense officials identified the dead Marine as Lance Cpl. Antonio J. Sledd, 20, of Hillsborough, Fla. He died from wounds received in action while participating in an urban exercise as part of Exercise Eager Mace. Sledd was assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, Calif. The officials said the Marines were attacked at about 4:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. in Kuwait) by two men, presumed to be civilians of unknown nationality, who approached a group of Marines during the exercise and opened fire. The Marines responded, killing both attackers, a DoD spokesman said. More details were not yet available, and military officials are investigating the incident. U.S. Central Command officials said the two Marines who were shot were immediately evacuated to a "nearby military medical facility." About 1,000 U.S. Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are in Kuwait for Exercise Eager Mace, an annual U.S.-Kuwait military exercise. The Marines are part of the Belleau Wood Amphibious Ready Group, which deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from San Diego in June.
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The marines were conducting an urban assault exercise on Failaka Island, in the Persian Gulf off Kuwait City, when two Kuwaitis driving a pickup truck opened fire with AK-47 automatic rifles on a group of marines who were training with blank rounds, Pentagon officials said. The assailants were shot to death when they raced up the road and fired on a second cluster of troops, the officials said. [...] Thirty-one civilians on Failaka were taken into custody as possible material witnesses in what the United States Fifth Fleet said was an unprovoked attack. Kuwaiti and Pentagon officials could not immediately explain why the civilians were on the island. Marines also recovered three AK-47 automatic rifles and ammunition from the truck the gunmen were using.
- Dakss, Brian (October 10, 2002a). "Al Qaeda Links To Kuwait Attack?". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
The two men — Anas al-Kandari, 21, and his 26-year-old cousin, Jassem al-Hajiri — opened fire Tuesday from a pickup truck on Marines engaged in urban assault training on Failaka, an island 10 miles east of Kuwait City, killing one Marine and injuring a second. After driving to a second location and attacking a second time, both Kuwaiti shooters were killed by Marines.
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BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL, Bethesda, Md. -- Lance Cpl. George R. Simpson Jr. was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained Oct. 9 when two Kuwait gunmen opened fire on a group of Marines training on the Kuwaiti island of Failaka. The medal was presented by Gen.
- Global Security (June 2003). "Eager Mace". Global Security. Archived from the original on June 25, 2003. Retrieved June 25, 2003.
About 2,000 marines began an amphibious assault exercise in Kuwait in late September 2002. The annual exercise was scheduled to end around October 19th. The Marine exercise, initially intended to last three weeks, was cut short after the fatal shooting of one Marine and the wounding of another by terrorists. Plans to practice an evacuation operation were canceled after the Kuwaiti government requested that the Marines end the training and move back aboard their ships. On 08 October 2002 the assailants approached the exercise in a pick-up truck and fired on the Marines with small arms. The assailants were in civilian attire. The two gunmen were shot and killed by other Marines following Tuesday's attack. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the attack on Marines Oct. 8 was an act of terrorism. Lance Cpl. Antonio J. Sledd, 20, of Hillsborough, Fla., died in the attack. Lance Cpl. George R. Simpson, 21, of Dayton, Ohio, was wounded in the firefight. There were no Kuwaiti military forces on the island for this part of the exercise. In addition, 31 civilians have been taken into custody since the shooting as possible material witnesses. Kuwaiti authorities are questioning them.
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20, of Hillsborough, Florida. Sledd died in Kuwait from wounds received in action while participating in an urban exercise as part of Exercise Eager Mace. He was assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, California. Died on October 8, 2002.
- N, Brenda (March 3, 2005). "Antonio James "Tony" Sledd". Find a Grave. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
Sledd was assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, California. Sledd was fatally shot by two al-Qaida trained Kuwaiti gunmen during an urban assault training exercise on heavily guarded Failaka Island, 10 miles east of Kuwait City in the Persian Gulf. Tony graduated from Gaither High School in 2000 and attended a semester at Hillsborough Community College. Friends remember him as a prankster, the proud owner of a purple Camaro people called "Barney", and a fiercely competitive and sometimes hot tempered basketball player. Tony had a warrior side to him – he would take on anybody bigger than him. He wouldn't back down from anything. Tony had a dream to follow his dad to the University of Arkansas. He wanted to earn a degree in criminology and become an FBI agent. One day he came home and said he needed to get some money for college so he entered the Marine Corps on January 10, 2001. When he came back from boot camp, his twin brother Mike was working odd jobs so he talked him into joining the Marines also. Neighbors remember two slender young men jogging through the quiet streets early mornings and late nights. Part of the allure of the Marines was its reputation for ruggedness - he wanted to see if he was tough enough to do it. He wrote an email to his family from Kuwait, "Tell everybody I love them and we are doing our best to protect y'all's country. Tony assured his mom he would be home for Thanksgiving, but he never made it.
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Law Enforcement Response: Article focuses on cooperation difficulties between Kuwaiti and US authorities early in the investigation. 31 suspects quickly arrested - reportedly thwarting other imminent attacks.
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Fadhli, a bodyguard and second-in-command for a leader in the al Qaeda network, possibly Bin Laden himself, fought for the terrorist group in the north of Afghanistan. He had learned how to use firearms, antiaircraft guns and explosives when he fought against Russian forces in Chechnya. He also was implicated in an attack against U.S. Marines on the Kuwaiti island of Faylaka on Oct. 8, 2002. The Marines were training on the island and were attacked by two Kuwaitis, Anas al-Kandari and Jassem al-Hajiri. One Marine was killed.
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20, of Hillsborough, Fla.; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit; killed in a terrorist attack on Oct. 8, 2002, in Kuwait.