Former U.S. Ranger Claims al-Zarqawi Beaten to Death

In 2006, the U.S. proudly announced that al Qaida leader al Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

Now there are claims he was murdered after surviving the airstrike. A former U.S. Army Ranger who writes using the name Utlendr at a well-known website written by veterans of the Special Forces called Special Operations Forces Situation Report (Sofrep), wrote an article Friday, How Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Really Met His Fate. The author, who uses the name Utlendr, according to The Australian, was part of the team that worked with Delta Forces to locate al Zarqawi's safe house in order to bomb it. The U.S. gave two official statements in 2006 on al Zarqawi's death. In the first, it said he was killed in the bombing. In the second, it said he was critically injured in the bombing and died an hour later.

Utlendr now writes that al Zarqawi was indeed badly injured in the bombing. But, he says, Iraqi forces had loaded him into an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The Delta Forces ambushed the ambulance.

Here's where it gets interesting. [More...]

Utlendr's article has now been edited to leave out his central point. He originally wrote that a Delta Force commando beat al Zarqawi to death inside the ambulance after the ambush. In the current edited version, it just says the Delta Force commando entered the ambulance after the ambush, and when he left, al Zarqawi was dead.

As originally published Friday, and still available via Google Cache, the article read:

He looked down upon the face of true evil. The conscious Zarqawi struggled to free himself of the stretcher, but his broken and wounded body was unable to react to what the mind was asking of it. With a gloved hand, the commando grabbed the side of Zarqawi’s head and slammed it against the inside of the ambulance, again and again until the number-one terrorist leader of Iraq was dead. With the traumatic brain injury he received from the initial bombing, it couldn’t have taken much effort. (my emphasis)

This decision was made on the ground; a strategic decision that carried with it the weight of all armed forces in Iraq. It was the right decision which surely saved hundreds if not thousands more lives and brought about the beginning of the end to Al-Qaeda’s reign in Iraq.

The current version of the article reads:

He looked down upon the face of true evil. The conscious Zarqawi struggled to free himself of the stretcher, but his broken and wounded body was unable to react to what the mind was asking of it. When the Commando stepped away from the ambulance Zarqawi had passed to the other side.

Zarqawi would find out sooner then [sic]he thought, that Allah would have no virgins or “garden of bliss” waiting for him in heaven.

Here's a screengrab of the original version and one of the current version, in case it changes again.

Also curiously, the current version adds a line missing from the original version:

When the Commando stepped away from the ambulance Zarqawi had passed to the other side.Zarqawi would find out sooner then [sic] he thought, that Allah would have no virgins or “garden of bliss” waiting for him in heaven.

Sounds like Utlendr caught some flak over his original version, and agreed to remove the part about beating al Zarqawi to death, but couldn't resist adding another jab to compensate.

The proprietor of the website, according to the Australian, had this response to the edit:

Brandon Webb, a former US Navy SEAL sniper who runs the site, responded by stating that Utlendr’s “story is true on both accounts, the source/author is real”.

The current version of the article adds this at the beginning: "The following is a true account as told by an operator from the 75th Ranger Regiment."

Also, according to the Australian, Utlendr's first version is similar to that of an Iraqi witness who claimed to have been one of the first at the scene.

The man, named only as Mohammed, said: “When the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha (robe), then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose.”

His name is Ahmed Mohammed and here's what he said in 2006. This USA Today article also had Mohammed's version, and adds;

So much blood covered al-Zarqawi's body that U.S. forces cleaned him up before taking photographs.

"Despite the fact that this person actually had no regard for human life, we were not going to treat him in the same manner," Caldwell said.

This Guardian article from 2006 reports:

The air strike came after US forces acted on intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by local residents.

That gives the impression do-gooder neighbors ratted out al-Zarqawi. But Utlendr writes:

In the end, a prisoner captured by the task force revealed the location of multiple safe houses in the Baqubah area.

There's a difference between a local resident and a prisoner, -- if it was a prisoner who gave up the information, he was probably tortured for it. In this case, it appears the person who revealed the information may have been both a local resident and a prisoner.

The Guardian says that 18 months earlier, al Zarqawi's driver and bodyguard were arrested en route to a meeting and al Zarqawi was in another truck, jumped out and made it to a safe house. ABC News reported in 2005 that the owner of that safe house had been arrested. If one or more arrested safe house owners gave up the information, the U.S. description of them as "local residents" may be technically accurate, but it's also disingenuous.

But the AP in 2006 had yet another version:

Tips from senior militants within the network led U.S. forces to follow al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser to the safe house, 30 miles outside Baghdad, for a meeting with the terror leader. The adviser, Sheik Abdul Rahman, was among seven aides also killed.

....U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said U.S. and Iraqi intelligence found al-Zarqawi by following his spiritual adviser, who visited al-Zarqawi at the safe house, prompting the air strike.

If accurate, then the spiritual advisor didn't knowingly provide any information -- he was tracked electronically or followed.

This former Air Force criminal investigator says he was part of the interrogation team that was responsible for finding al Zarqawi, and denies torture was used. He says the information came from one of al Zarqawi's associates.

Lastly, the Australian notes that Peter Kassig was a former U.S. Army ranger, and that the ISIS black clad executioner quoted Zarqawi in the video showing his decapitated head.

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  • Display: Sort:
    If true, that action would be (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 03:17:18 PM EST
    a very serious violation of U.S. Army regulations, as well as a war crime under international law, carrying, iirc, a potential death penalty. It is explicitly and adamantly forbidden to mistreat a wounded adversary, much less to execute him.

    Should be... (none / 0) (#1)
    by unitron on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 01:46:41 AM EST
    ..."sooner than", not "sooner then".

    I just added a [sic] (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 03:15:16 AM EST
    to the "then"

    Thank you (none / 0) (#3)
    by unitron on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 04:06:55 AM EST
    no text

    (except for the part where I announce that there's no text : - )


    Army Rangers and Delta Forces are not the (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 02:28:50 PM EST
    Same thing, not at all.  Why would an Army Ranger know anything about something a member of Delta Forces may or may not have done?  Extreme hearsay because they aren't even serving in the same group.

    And an Ex SEAL claims the story is true?  How would he know?  Perhaps what he means is that it is true that this is a story. This is all pretty ridiculous.

    And, there are several forms of intelligence verification required and involved in making such an attack.

    The only part of the Ranger's story (emphasis on story) I could even consider plausible is that Delta Forces stopped the ambulance.  I can believe they would have done that to acquire a photograph that would be used to facially verify it was Zarqawi.  It is very common for individuals to survive such an air strike but die shortly afterwards from internal injuries.

    the 75th Ranger Regiment (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 04:24:40 PM EST
    worked with the Delta force to identify the building. The links to various articles in the post explain this. So does wikipedia and multiple articles via Google. Here's one.

    TF 145 is composed of elite personnel from American Delta Force, Navy SEAL Team 6, Army Rangers and British Special Forces, as well as members of the FBI and CIA.

    Follow the links in my post, you'll see more.

    The Ranger's article says

    The men of Delta Force and the 75th Ranger Regiment continued to spearhead the ground-combat operations in both Iraq and occasionally in Syria as part of Task Force 145 (later renamed Task Force 88) resulting in the death and capture of hundreds of high-level Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq terrorists, to include the death of Zarqawi's successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri in 2010.

    Utlendr is a former US Army Ranger who served with the Regiment during Operation Enduring Freedom, on multiple combat deployments and fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I am familiar with TF 145 (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 04:31:55 PM EST
    I am somewhat familiar with how JOSC uses the different forces assigned to them.  Delta Forces preform missions with their team.  Rangers preform missions with their team.  SEALs preform missions with their team.  They have trained together, they can anticipate certain responses from members, they have rapport.  Being an operator is probably THE most high stress job you can do Jeralyn.  They don't throw a bunch of people together who have no training together or synergy.  The thing that unites these different groups is the command.  The command decides what missions will be and then which team will preform that mission.  An Army Ranger was not holding the ambulance door for a Delta Forces operator who is about to off Zarqawi.  This story is solid hearsay.

    You can't even get an accurate story (none / 0) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 04:42:34 PM EST
    Out of the three members of SEAL team six who were at the top of the stairs the night Bin Laden was killed.  I am told though that it is most likely that the one of the three who has said nothing publicly is the one who killed him.  And the rest of SEAL team six doesn't know because they were doing THEIR job.  But if I can't get a straight story on that, I'm supposed to believe a Ranger who wasn't there that a Delta Forces operator did something behind a closed door with no witnesses, and it's backed up by an ex SEAL (but it isn't) who wasn't there either?

    the ranger didn't say he was the one (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 09:35:55 PM EST
    in the ambulance who beat Zarqawi. He didn't say he was there. Read it again. He's telling the commando's story.

    "The following is a true account as told by an operator from the 75th Ranger Regiment."


    I read it (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:31:29 AM EST
    And you are a defense attorney, and you are shopping this horrible hearsay around that you otherwise despise, but it is aimed at the United States military so that makes it okay I guess.

    And the Ranger wasn't there (none / 0) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:45:24 AM EST
    It may or may not be a story he was told.  Most likely it was a horrible off color joke he was told if he was told anything at all about anything that took place for Delta Forces before, during, or after that air strike.  Everything that took place was classified and is only shared with another service member on a need to know basis....period.

    While this story may not be true, (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:19:15 AM EST
    the fact that it was classified, might not be proof positive that it is false.

    Wasn't the actual events of the shooting of bin Laden classified?  The seal who claims that he shot him wrote a book, "No Easy Day," about the event.

    It seems that classifed  information is not always just shared with other service members on a need to know basis.


    Yes (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:32:31 AM EST
    What happened during the Bin Laden raid was classified and there have actually been two SEALs now who claim they killed him.  There was No Easy Day, but then after that a different SEAL came forward in Esquire magazine and claimed he was the SEAL who killed Bin Laden.

    This has all caused a $hit$torm in the spec ops community and military leadership, this "cashing in", for so many reasons.  It violates laws, and it violates codes and ethics that they rely on to live and be able to trust each other in extreme and dangerous situations.

    And the truth is, neither one of the two SEALs who have gone public saying they killed Bin Laden likely did.  It was most likely the point man.  And he remains silent, choosing to not violate laws or ethics.  Not cashing in.

    It seems like those who talk don't speak the truth because they are talking in an effort to cash in.


    Just an aside, there seems to be a book (none / 0) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:41:05 PM EST
    I own the book (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 07:18:17 PM EST
    It is behind me in the bookcase.  I read it, a week after it was published.  Just because someone writes a book, it doesn't make it so.  And as in the case of Osama bin Laden's death that is X 2.

    The website that this story turned up on is a pay to play website, and the ex SEAL that started the website no longer runs it.  I don't know if he even still owns it, he claims that he calls no shots on the website at all now and as of yesterday was working mightily hard to distance himself from this story that was posted on a website that he originally created.


    Evidently misunderstood (none / 0) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 07:43:11 PM EST
    what you meant when you said there was No Easy Day.  Thought you were saying the book did not exist.

    My original comment mainly pointed out that classified information is not a guarantee that a member of the service or government will keep it classified.

    I am not stating the the information is valid. I seldom believe everything I read and I guess only the people who were actually there know the truth.


    What I was pointing out is that (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:27:30 PM EST
    No Easy Day has been challenged by other Spec Ops persons, and is said to contain several glaring falsehoods to include that the author killed Osama bin Laden.

    Of the three SEALs who were in the lead on the stairs to the room Osama bin Laden was killed in....a second SEAL came forward claiming HE killed Osama bin Laden, but that is in doubt too because the point man had hit Osama bin Laden in the head.  The point man has tried to cash in on his position that night.  The second SEAL making the claim did so when he was facing financial uncertainty.

    Just because someone claims they are coming forward sharing  classified information doesn't mean they are truthful.  It appears at this time when individuals hope to cash in or are cashing in on the "information" they are much less likely to be truthful.

    This story appeared on a website where you must pay to see responses/comments and participate.


    Sorry...typo (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:29:38 PM EST
    The point man has not tried to cash in on what happened that night, and is most likely the person who killed Bin Laden.

    This is quibbling... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 11:08:58 AM EST
    I always figured that everybody on the team probably fired a shot into bin Laden, Orient Express style.

    They both claim they did (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 11:37:14 AM EST
    Being the three in the lead, most likely they did in order to avoid possible detonation of a suicide vest or a bomb that was designed to be detonated upon someone taking Osama bin Laden.  But those who are attempting to cash in in one way or another and are violating laws and ethics have to make extravagant claims in order to get the required attention that leads to money coming their way.  Such claims are seldom the truth.

    The ex SEAL who you repeat is (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 04:03:38 PM EST
    "The proprietor" of the website where this writing and claim showed up now says he is no longer the proprietor of the website and is not responsible for anything that can be found there.

    It is also a pay to participate website, so anything that generates membership.