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6 July 2005.
Pulled this from the U.S. Army White Pages. The email for Lt Terry Jonathan
Grider from the article:
terry.grider [at] us.army.mil
Phone Number: 09643-205-339
Assigned to 2-2 Infantry.
1 July 2005.
Mark Kraft responds to Lt. Grider:
I wanted to reply to
the anonymous comment from roadstoiraq.com, made, apparently, by Lt. Grider.
First off, Lt. Grider seems to think that my posting of the the pictures
was a personal attack on him. In fact, he was mentioned once in my original
post, as being the leader of the particular unit involved at Buhriz that
day. My source for this information was straight out of the newspaper reports
of what happened that day, and I never said that Lt. Grider was personally
involved in the pictures themselves.
Lt Grider's claim that I should have investigated this matter further before
coming forward with the pictures overlooks several important things.
1. I make no claims to being a reporter. I am a weblogger who went public
with pictures sent to me by a U.S. citizen in Iraq. A citizen who found the
incident troubling and felt that they should be released.
2. I had no clear way to get in touch with Lt. Grider.
3. Had I gotten in touch with Lt. Grider first, I still would not know if
he was telling the truth about the pictures. Denial does not equal innocence.
4. I feel that the public has a right to see the photographs in question,
regardless of Lt. Grider's perceived guilt or innocence.
5. The public release of the pictures was, I felt, a necessary step in order
to determine more about them.
In his account, Lt. Grider basically says that the pictures were taken according
to the orders of engagement. While I do not deny that he was most certainly
following his orders, the question is, why was it necessary to take the second
set of pictures, showing the same weapon, an RPG launcher, being placed in
front of each of the Iraqi teens, to be used, as he said, for "evidence against
the surviving insurgents"? Didn't the initial pictures more accurately reflect
the reality of the situaiton for the great majority of the Iraqi teens in
question? Clearly, if it were simply a matter of taking an additional picture
to indicate which Iraqi his men had taken the RPG launcher from, this would've
better reflected the incident, right?
The implication here is that it is acceptable, standard behavior when U.S.
troops clear a given area, for them to view Iraqis who are killed, wounded,
or captured as insurgents, regardless of whether they are armed or not, and
to take photographs which reflect this "reality". The end result is, we have
two Iraqi teens in prison, presumably for firing an RPG launcher at American
troops, who risk these pictures being used against them when they finally
get a trial.
What is at fault here, basically, is a widespread system where U.S. military
officers are under orders to collect evidence for possible future criminal
cases, to be submitted to the Iraqi government. Their collection of evidence,
however, would be thrown out in any respectable court of law, and doesn't
comply with acceptable international standards. Arguably, the new Iraqi courts
do not respect those standards either -- see this article originally
printed in the L.A. Times:
If officers are going to be collecting evidence, then they should be trained
in the same rules of evidence collection that police departments use every
day -- nothing more, nothing less. Like any legit criminal case, bad evidence
should be deemed inadmissable. Certainly most Americans would never tolerate
such evidence handling techniques as being acceptable, even if the soldiers
in question were just following orders.
Soldiers aren't cops. If you send them in without suitable training to do
a police officer's duty, you're going to have horrible injustices take place.
Given the past abuses we've seen in Iraq, this, frankly, should hardly be
a lesson that we need to learn once more.
26 June 2005.
June 26th, 2005 13:31
Let me start this off by stating exactly who I am. My name is 1LT TJ Grider.
I led the platoon attack that resulted in those insurgents being killed.
I personally killed some of them and I took the pictures that are being tossed
around on the internet now.
My actions and the actions of my men that day were lawful, precise,
descriminating, and completely followed the rules of engagement. They did
not violate the laws of land warfare or the Geneva Conventions.
My only wish is that Mr. Mark Kraft, who apparently follows comments on this
website would have tried to contact me and do a little more investigating
prior to putting my name on an internet page associating me and my platoon,
possibly the most decorated platoon in the 1st Infantry Division during OIF
II, with war crimes.
Now I will answer a few questions that should put to rest this issue with
the majority of the sensible people that read this. To those obsessed with
conspiracy theories or already convinced that the U.S. is fighting an unlawful
war, I doubt these comments will change your views.
On October 22 2004, my platoon received a call to aid a friendly unit in
contact in Buhriz. We moved to Buhriz and fought in the city for 8 hours
against over 60 RPG attacks, multiple snipers, and an array of insurgents
ranging greatly in age, dress, and level of skill. Throughout the day we
engaged insurgents very discriminately and never fired on anyone that was
unarmed or not presenting a threat.
One example that I can think of specifically is when one of my section sergeants
reported that 150 meters from him a man was video taping the fighting. He
asked if he should engage and I asked if the man was armed. He replied no
and that he was not presenting a threat. I told him not to engage the individual
and control the fires around him to ensure only individuals with weapons
or presenting a threat were engaged. He complied and the next day while eating
breakfast in the chowhall we watched part of the fight on CNN as the Al Jazeera
cameraman had sold the videotape to CNN. On that video insurgents were
interviewed and called themselves the Friday Freedom Fighters. They described
themselves as working men from the town of Buhriz who were attempting to
expel the foreign invaders. So you can see we were fighting against men,
boys, anyone able to grab a weapon and take up arms against us. Some were
dressed in scarves and masks, others looked just like those boys in the photos.
To continue, we received an order to move to contact through the palm groves
where a Kiowa Warrior helicopter had just been hit by small arms fire and
had to return to base. I led my platoon of 30 men into the palm grove. The
visibility was about 20 meters in the palm grove
imagine something more
like the jungles of Vietnam than the deserts you might think of in Iraq.
Over 4 hours we moved about 600 meters, moving slowly to watch for booby
traps and insurgents hidden in the undergrowth (this was a dense palm
you can see in the pictures, these kids were not playing soccer
in there as some of you have implied) .
We saw one man during our movement who was hiding near a shack. He was a
date farm owner and we obviously did not engage him. We put him inside the
shack with water and his dates for food in order to protect him and told
him not too come out until all the firing and explosions had stopped. He
was thankful and did as we told him.
As we turned to move back to the city and complete the clearance of the palm
grove we came under heavy RPG fire at a distance of less than 50 meters.
The RPGs exploded on the trees and foliage around us. I set in a support
by fire position with the lead squad and they returned fire to fix the insurgents
position and prevent them from accurately firing on us. I got a situation
report from the lead element that five or six individuals wearing civilian
clothes were firing on us. I led the other two squads on a flanking movement
to destroy the enemy. We moved quickly to the point of assault.
As I prepped my men to move across and assault through a soldier next to
me said he had eyes on the insurgents moving towards us. They were less than
25 meters from us. I turned, identified the insurgents and began the assault
by firing my weapon.
We had positive identification on the these kids. They were only
the second people we had seen in four hours, they were within 20 meters of
where the RPG fire had come from. They were dressed in clothing matching
the clothing that my lead squadleader said the individuals that fired the
RPGs had on, and they had RPGs.
I made the decision because at that point I was a seasoned combat leader
and had complete control of the situation. Now I will describe the actions
on the objective. After we fired on the isurgents and I felt comfortable
that the situation was under control I led the assault across the objective.
As we assaulted across the objective the first thing we do is remove weapons
and secure the area. We set in a perimeter. I recognized that two of the
boys were still alive and we had captured one detainee uninjured and trying
to flee. We were no longer taking fire (because we had just neutralized the
insurgents that had fired on us) and so we called up our actions to higher
and I ordered my medic and two other combat lifesaver qualified soldiers
to begin treating the enemy wounded while myself and the other squad leaders
established security and planned our next movement.
I then took pictures in accordance with the rules of engagement. The pictures
were necessary for evidence against the surviving insurgents as well as
documentation of the skirmish. The initial picutures were taken without weapons
because we had consolidated the RPGs away from the individuals and were guarding
them while we set up security and treated the wounded. It was the tactically
right thing to do as well as the morally right thing to do by treating the
wounded even though they had just tried to kill us.
In accordance with orders we then took a series of pictures of the insurgents
with the weapons that they had on them. You are correct there was obviously
only one RPG launcher there and a few warheads. The rest of the warheads
they had were already fired at us minutes earlier. Were there more launchers
that they dropped while attempting to flee as they realized the overwhelming
force they had just engaged? I dont know and we didnt have time
to search as we started taking fire and had audio on small arms fire from
nearly every direction.
At that point I had a decision to make. We could have done the wrong thing
and left the injured to die. I could have pulled out my 9mm and killed them
myself. We could have threatened them to get further intelligence or beaten
them for firing at us and putting our lives in danger. We did not do this
because we are professional soldiers in the United States Military. I chose
to do the right thing. We had security set in, I was comfortable with the
situation and so we continued to treat the individuals, which you see in
When my medic said the wounded were stable we picked them up, threw them
over our backs, and moved with them and the detainee over 200 meters to the
road where we had coordinated for a field ambulance, at this time we were
still taking fire but could not locate the origin. We saved the lives of
the very kids that had shot at us and attempted to kill us. And what you
all do not realize is that the detainee admitted to an interpreter that he
and his friends had attacked us and had been paid to fight by a local insurgency
As far as the pictures go they were and are necessary. They will be used
in the prosecution of the surviving insurgents, although their confessions,
which have never been mentioned by Mr. Kraft will probably be enough to convict
It was not my requirement to take those pictures, but that of the new Iraqi
government. They specifically instructed the military to take pictures of
insurgents wit the weapons or contraband they had on them. That is what we
did that day.
Yes the RPGs were initially moved to secure the area and pictures were taken.
What if we had not had time because of coming under fire to take pictures
with the weapons? We needed to have pictures at least confirming the days
events. Because we did not come under fire immediately we had time to go
back and take the pictures according to how the Iraqi government wanted them
for evidence purposes. To suggest we planted them is ridiculous.
I will say that when you shoot someone at close range the scene is chaotic.
Those kids did have shoes on but were literally blown out of
them just as the weapons were scattered about.
The bottom line is that when we came upon the scene we couldnt be sure
which individual held the launcher and which carried the rounds. A scene
like that is much too chaotic to determine things like that in such a short
period of time. When I took the pictures, I did so with the weapons in front
of each because they were all travelling in a group and all guilty to some
They will have a trial and a chance to prevent evidence showing their innocence.
The only evidence I saw was that of guilt.
As I said maybe some of them ditched another launcher or some hand grenades
as they tried to flee from us. The bottom line is those RPGs were on them
and we had just taken fire from those kids.
I do not see at the range the fight took place any way that we could have
been more discriminating with our fires. They had the weapons on them and
the first priority when on the scene was to eliminate the threat by removing
the weapons, securing the area, treating the wounded, then taking pictures.
What some of you dont seem to understand is that regardless of their
age we took human lives that day. But it was out of necessity and
self-preservation and in attempting to accomplish the missions set forth
for us by our unit. That mission was to rid Iraq of insurgents and terrorist
attempting to destabilize the government and terrorize the Iraqi people.
We helped accomplish that mission that day.
Once an able-bodied individual picks up a weapon and employs it against U.S.
Forces they give up the right to claim that their age or gender should prevent
us from engaging them to protect our lives and complete the mission.
While I support freedom of the press and free speech rights, those pictures
should never have been released by a soldier who was not even there. My job
was to hand those pictures up the chain of command which I did. Once out
of my hands I cannot be sure of who had access to them or what story they
concocted to go along with the pictures.
Mr. Kraft, I am a professional soldier and a Ranger who lives my life and
fights according to the Ranger Creed which I doubt you are familiar with.
One stanza in particular says
Energetically will I meet the enemies
of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better
trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word.
I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and
under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country
My men and I did the right thing out there and I will not allow you or anyone
else to insinuate that we embarrassed our country by doing anything wrong.
I believe that you, Mr. Kraft, should have done the right thing and attempted
to contact me and do some investigation into this incident before publishing
my name in conjunction with any war crime.
Although I feel it is not warranted, I welcome any investigation into the
events that day. I am confident that my actions were right and in accordance
with the Geneva Convention and the laws of land warfare. I hope you feel
comfortable with your actions, Mr. Kraft. You have managed to skip any
investigation and associated an honorable, very accomplished platoon with
a crime that did not exist.
Thank you for your time and consideration of these facts from the day.
22 June 2005.
At the request of Mark Kraft the original 16 photos have been reduced to
half-size and coupled to speed downloading and to ease comparative viewing.
The original photos:
19 June 2005
Awhile back, a U.S. citizen working in Iraq sent me several photographs he
obtained from a soldier in Iraq. Apparently, they had been passed along between
several sources before reaching me. I felt that the pictures were particularly
controversial and newsworthy, in that they appear to show U.S. soldiers planting
weapons on Iraqi teenagers. As a result, I passed them on to Seymour Hersh
of the New Yorker, who mentioned them in an interview on May 11, 2005.
After I did Abu Ghraib, I got a bunch of digital pictures emailed me, and
-- was a lot of work on it, and I decided, well, we can talk about it later.
You never know why you do things. You have some general rules, but in this
case, a bunch of kids were going along in three vehicles. One of them got
blown up. The other two units -- soldiers ran out, saw some people running,
opened up fire. It was a bunch of boys playing soccer. And in the digital
videos you see everybody standing around, they pull the bodies together.
This is last summer. They pull the bodies together. You see the body parts,
the legs and boots of the Americans pulling bodies together. Young kids,
I don't know how old, 13, 15, I guess. And then you see soldiers dropping
R.P.G.'s, which are rocket-launched grenades around them. And then they're
called in as an insurgent kill.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hersh has no plans to go forward with the story at this
time, citing the inconclusive nature of what happened, and the risk it could
have to his sources. I, however, have no such ethical problem with releasing
the pictures as is, as I think there is an overwhelming public interest that
they be released. It should be up to the media and the general public to
determine for themselves what occurred that day. (It's not for me to speculate
too much upon Mr. Hersh's reasons for not going forward with the pictures.
He has his reasons, which I assume are valid.)
They indicate that a group of U.S. soldiers planted weapons -- the same weapon,
in fact -- in front of killed, wounded, and captured Iraqi kids. I cannot
authenticate whether Mr. Hersh is correct and that the teens in question
were innocent or not, but clearly, something significant is amiss. At the
very least, it indicates how uncertain the situation is over there. Our soldiers
literally do not know who the enemy is, and apparently are willing to manipulate
the evidence in order to justify their actions.
The pictures were taken with a digital camera in Buhriz, Iraq on Oct. 22nd,
2004, and their file names are numbered, apparently from the digital camera
in question. They show the basics for you: no weapons in the first photos,
then weapons inserted into the pictures later. They also show pretty clearly
that I didn't stage these pictures.
It appears to me that these teenagers are not insurgents, in that they showed
no signs of having either weapons or wearing khafiyas, or headscarves, which
are typically used as a kind of uniform by insurgents, as displayed in the
Associated Press photos below. To me, the whole situation is indicative of
the terrible uncertainty of the conflict, where everyone is a potential
insurgent, and where that fear and uncertainty leads to a situation where
U.S. soldiers try to manipulate the reality of the situation.
It's also worth noting that medical treatment was apparently not offered
until shown in the later pictures, leading me to wonder whether the assistance,
in itself, was part of the "staged" element of these photos.
Here is what I know happened with the incident in question:
A US patrol led by 1st Lt. Terry "T.J." Grider's platoon -- 1st Infantry
Division troops based out of FOB Gabe -- were on a "movement to contact"
mission -- basically trying to draw fire. At approximately 7:20 am, they
were reportedly fired upon by small arms and RPGs while driving near Buhriz.
A Captain Bill Coppernoll from the 1st Infantry Division told AFP that nine
insurgents were killed and three wounded that day. A hospital from Ba'aquba
reported that it received three dead and eight wounded from the fighting.
The dead appear to have been turned over within 48 hours to some other party
-- I suspect one of the hospitals at Ba'aquba. Al Jazeera apparently had
a reporter/photographer on the scene who took pictures of these teens prior
to their funerals. Some of their clothes have been changed, possibly in
preparation for their funerals. Figuring out from Al Jazeera what their reporter
saw and what the locals told him would probably be very revealing as to what
happened that day.
See the following links for details:
At least one of these Iraqi kids was "framed and arrested," so I think it's
important that some kind of investigation be done to determine whether or
not he is guilty of anything. He could still be rotting away in Abu Ghraib
for all I know.
I've attached all the pictures I have available, named Buhriz 2004 22OCT
074-091. (#083 and #087 are missing for some reason, probably because the
soldier who took the pictures didn't want to pass them on.) Please display
them in that order.
Also, I attached photos "aljazeerabahraz1-4," which I found in a Google search
at the time I originally researched this issue. The site that hosts these
pictures is down now, but archive.org
still has a
of them. It shows what is obviously several of the same teens. These
should be shown after the other pictures, with their separate source explained.
(Cryptome added two Associated Press photos of the same time period. Cryptome
notes under photos.)