Irak War Images
In the greatest leak in the history of the United States military, WikiLeaks plans to publish 391,832 classified documents on the Iraq on the Internet. The field reports from soldiers cast a new light on the war -- documenting in a unique way how the highly armed American military was helpless in the conflict for years. By SPIEGEL Staff
01. The Suffering of Civilians
The war logs show that the victims of the Iraq war are not only soldiers and insurgents, but mainly civilians. This photo shows an Iraqi girl squatting among blood stains on the side of a street in Tal Afar on Jan. 18, 2005. She has just lost her parents. US soldiers opened fire on their car after it failed to stop and came toward the troops, despite warning shots. According to the report of the operation, the car did not react to a stop signal. The soldiers shot first at the tires and then at the car itself. The mother and father died, but the four children survived.
02. Oil in Flames
This Feb. 2, 2005 photo shows a US soldier standing in front of a black smoke cloud. Insurgents had attacked an oil storage facility near the northern city of Kirkuk, setting off a massive blaze.
03. Mourning Fallen Comrades
Boots, weapons and helmets form a memorial to 31 US soldiers who died in a helicopter crash. The Feb. 2, 2005 photo was taken during a memorial service at the US base Camp Korean Village near the Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah.
04. Faceless Attackers
Armed militants take up defensive positions on the side of a road on the outskirts of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, in this Dec. 28, 2006 photo.
05. Hidden Danger
This picture released by the US military shows soldiers in action in Baqouba on March 14, 2007. The troops were using smoke grenades for concealment as they engaged insurgents. The Iraq war logs include several incidents for that day, including attacks with fatalities.
06. Home-Made Launch Ramps
This video screenshot released by the US military shows insurgents setting up rockets aimed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, about 30 kilometers east of Baghdad, on Aug. 5, 2007. These launch ramps were used for several attacks on US bases, according to the American military reports. The reports also revealed that a patrol discovered the site on Aug. 6 and apparently found out that an electricity cable used for the equipment had been made in Iran.
07. Calling Home
A wounded US solder lies in a hospital in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in this August 21, 2007 photo. He has called his wife directly from the emergency room to let her know what has happened.
08. Intruder in a Colorful Home
A US Army soldier searches a house near Baqouba for weapons caches and insurgents in this Dec. 15, 2007 photo. The war logs do not include any details about this operation.
09. Keep Your Head Down
In this May 13, 2008 photo, a soldier with the Iraqi Army stays low while making his way across the roof of a patrol base in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad.
10. Signals in a Sandstorm
On April 27, 2008, Baghdad was enveloped by a fierce sandstorm. The dust greatly reduced visibility, hampering the security forces and grounding US helicopters and drones. This picture shows an Iraqi Army soldier using a flashlight to signal cars to turn off their headlights. Insurgents exploited the bad weather to fire a salvo of rockets or mortars at the Green Zone. The Iraq war logs describe an attack on that day where two civilians died and three more were injured.
11. Under Fire
This unit of US soldiers came under fire on Nov. 8, 2007 in Mosul in the northwest of Iraq. The battalion was conducting an operation to catch would-be roadside bombers when they were attacked.
12. Guards Behind the Wire
This May 19, 2008 photo shows a corridor protected by barbed wire inside the Camp Bucca detention center located near the Kuwait-Iraq border. According to US figures, the camp held 19,070 detainees in 33 separate compounds at the time.
13. Closeups of War
This July 16, 2008 image shows a US soldier photographing munitions that had been found in the Dora district of Baghdad. The war logs include reports of several operations on that day.
14. Bomb Disposal Class
An Iraqi soldier wearing a protective suit defuses a device during bomb disposal training at a US military camp in Besmaya, 90 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, on Nov. 18, 2008. Training Iraqi soldiers was an important part of the work in the US base.
15. A Bloody Day in Baghdad
Dec. 8, 2009 was a bloody day in the Iraqi capital. At least 112 people died in car bomb attacks in the city on that day, according to Reuters. This picture shows a US soldier passing by a burned bus at the site of an attack in northern Baghdad. The US military records show four serious attacks on that day. An attack around 10 a.m. killed one Iraqi and wounded two. Another attack at 10:31 a.m. killed 20 civilians and wounded 80. One minute later, a further attack left another 21 dead and 10 injured. A fourth blast happened at 10:40. The result was eight dead and 11 injured civilians. One attacker also died.
16. The Iraq war logs reveal a number of dubious attacks by Apache helicopters and raise the question of whether US pilots committed war crimes. This photo shows an Apache helicopter flying over the Rasheed neighborhood of Baghdad on Feb. 22, 2007. On the same day, a serious incident involving an Apache took place in Baghdad, according to the Iraq war logs. The crew shot and killed two Iraqis who were clearly trying to surrender.
17. This image is taken from the world-famous "Collateral Murder" video published by WikiLeaks in April 2010. The footage of the July 12, 2007 incident shows how the crew of an Apache helicopter opened fire on innocent civilians, killing 13 Iraqis, including two Reuters employees.
18. The supposed "anti-Iraqi forces" who were killed were probably Iraqis who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The video also shows how the crews asked for permission to open fire on a minibus rushing to the scene -- and how they obtained it.
19. The roughly 18-minute video is difficult to watch, partly because it isn't clear what's worse: the images or the recorded conversations of the helicopter crew. "Nice," says one crew member after a deadly salvo. "Look at those dead bastards." The conversation continues in a similar tone.
20. The black Apache helicopters are heavily armed, cost about $20 million each and can fly at speeds of around 300 kilometers per hour (190 mph). They are also equipped with 30 mm cannons and Hellfire missiles.
21. Ground troops who get caught up in firefights often call in the helicopters for support. Whenever the Apaches appeared in the sky over Baghdad, it wasn't uncommon for hell to break loose on the ground.
22. In 2007, the Baghdad battalions of the Fort Hood, Texas-based unit were stationed in Camp Taji to the north of the Iraqi capital. For a total period of 15 months between the end of 2006 and early 2008, the soldiers flew missions from the base. Many of those operations involved particularly "robust" interventions, to use the military jargon.
23. This April 2010 photo shows the father of Namir Noor-Eldeen, the 22-year-old Reuters photographer who died in the incident.
24. This is believed to be the last picture taken on Namir Noor-Eldeen's cameras while he was still alive. US soldiers retrieved his two digital cameras from the scene of the attack and later returned them to Reuters.
25. Nov. 23, 2006 was a dark day in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. According to the war protocols, 317 people died -- the majority, 181, in a series of attacks in Baghdad's Sadr City district.
26. Here, locals examine the scene of a bomb attack. One boy looks at a pool of blood on the ground. A victim's shoe can also be seen. The power of the blasts destroyed the windshields of many cars.
27. In 2006, three years after the beginning of the Iraq war, violence in the country escalated, particularly between Shiites and Sunnis. This photo shows people taking away the body of a victim in a bloodstained sheet.
28. The hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of victims. This picture shows bodies lying outside a hospital morgue in Sadr City. There wasn't enough space for them inside the morgue.
29. Local residents examine the scene of one attack. They are standing next to a pool of blood, beside a vehicle that was turned over by the force of the blast.
30. This car was completely destroyed in the explosion. The nearby buildings were also damaged by the blast.
31. These paper flowers at the scene of a bomb attack were part of wedding decorations.
32. This image taken from TV footage shows Iraqis trying to help victims from a vehicle after a car bombing in Sadr City.
33. The scene of another attack in Baghdad on Nov. 23. This one took place outside Sadr City.
34. A woman stands at the bedside of a wounded relative in a Baghdad hospital after a coalition attack in Sadr City.
35. The survivers have to learn to cope with the physical and psychological consequences. This man was seriously injured in the attacks and ended up in a Sadr City hospital.
36. A total of 70 fatal incidents were recorded on Nov. 23, 2006 in Iraq -- but not this one. According to local police, US soldiers and Iraqi units killed four Iraqis in an early morning raid. These men are standing in front of a car window which was hit by a bullet during the raid.
37. Disbelief and grief for the families of those killed. These brothers are waiting outside a hospital for their brother's body to be released. The man was killed during a raid on a minibus. According to US military information, troops were searching for a soldier who had been kidnapped in Baghdad.
38. The online whistleblower platform WikiLeaks is posting close to 400,000 US military reports from the Iraq war on the Web. The logs show in detail how brutally the war was waged and the helplessness with which the United States acted. This Nov. 23, 2006 photo shows the aftermath of a car bombing in the Sadr City area of Baghdad.
39. US Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, standing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," declared the conflict to be over when he said on May 1, 2003: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended." On that day, the chronicle of the Iraq war that WikiLeaks has now published had not even begun.
40. In one respect, the US Armed Forces, which compiled these documents, and the website WikiLeaks, which is now publishing them, share something in common: Both organizations see these documents as an insider's view of the Iraq war, and thus as accounts that offer the most detailed, comprehensive and realistic version of the bloody truth so far. This photo shows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a July 2010 press conference in London about the Afghanistan leaks.
41. The documents describe scenes of sheer terror on a massive scale. Starting in 2004, terrorists began kidnapping foreigners, decapitating them and dumping their bodies by the roadside like trash. Kim Sun Il, a South Korean working for a US military contractor, was found on a road between Baghdad and Fallujah on June 22, 2004. This image is from an Islamist video allegedly showing Kim being beheaded.
42. A flood of reports show that it wasn't just ordinary police officers and soldiers who cooperated with the Shiite militias in their fight against the American occupiers, but that politicians as well as high-ranking police and military officials were directly involved in attacks on US troops and civilians. The Mahdi Army, in particular, appears to have infiltrated large segments of the police. This 2006 photo shows members of the Mahdi Army marching in Sadr City, Baghdad.
43. The Wolf Brigade was an elite military unit, run by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and trained by US specialists in the fight against al-Qaida. However the Iraq war logs indicate that the elite forces were spreading fear and loathing themselves, by brutally oppressing and even torturing other Iraqis. This October 2005 shows arrested suspects at Wolf Brigade headquarters in Baghdad.
44. The war logs also contain information on the July 12, 2007 helicopter attack on a group of Iraqis, including two Reuters employees, that was the subject of the "Collateral Murder" video released by WikiLeaks.
45. Mercenaries employed by the American private security firm Blackwater in Iraq had a reputation for ruthlessness -- but as the war logs show, they were also the victims of brutal attacks.
46. Since the beginning of 2009, Blackwater has called itself Xe Services. The notorious company is the supplier of the largest private army in the world. In this picture from September 2007, Blackwater employees secure the site after a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
47. Blackwater mercenaries in combat in Najaf, April 2004: The private soldiers supported regular troops at times. In this case, American and Spanish soldiers were defending a facility against advancing Iraqi extremists, with the active involvement of the Blackwater contractors.
48. Blackwater is the largest private army in the world and employs state-of-the-art equipment, helicopters and armored vehicles. The private soldiers often stand in the line of fire and have lost many men. They also have a reputation for being particularly ruthless.
49. This image from Fallujah in April 2005 has been seared into the memory of an entire nation. Iraqis attacked and murdered four Blackwater employees, burned the bodies beyond recognition and then hung the charred remains on a bridge -- to the applause of bystanders. The photos of this macabre orgy of violence were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
50. Attacks on private security companies in Iraq were not uncommon. This still from a video released by Islamist extremists allegedly shows the wreckage of a security company vehicle (April 2008).
51. This man was injured on a black day in the history of Blackwater: On Sept. 16, 2007 mercenaries opened fire on a crowd in a marketplace in Baghdad -- allegedly because of an attack on a convoy Blackwater employees had been charged with watching over. Seventeen civilians were killed, among them women and children.
52. The burned-out wreck of a car at the edge of a market place in Baghdad: The car had gone up in flames the previous week during a shootout involving Blackwater security employees.
The Wolf Brigade was an elite military unit, run by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and trained by US specialists in the fight against al-Qaida. However secret documents from the US military indicate that the elite forces were spreading fear and loathing themselves, by brutally oppressing and even torturing other Iraqis. US doctors documented the cases. 53. The men of the Wolf Brigade are an elite force under the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and were specially trained for the fight against al-Qaida.
54. The Wolf Brigade commander, Brigadier Abu al-Walid, celebrates with his troops in May 2005. They had just received extra money and been decorated for an operation against insurgents west of Baghdad. According to US Army documents, the history of the elite unit also includes some dark chapters.
55. Iraqi security forces during military training at the headquarters of the Wolf Brigade in Baghdad, December 2005. The Wolf Brigade set up secret prisons in various locations around the country, where some of the prisoners were abused.
56. US specialists trained around 2,000 men for the elite unit. Here US Colonel Edward Cardon (left) and Brigadier Abu al-Walid, of the Wolf Brigade, speak to the press about the success of a joint mission in June 2005.
57. The Wolf Brigade conducts a search and detain operation on the streets of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in February 2006. According to secret reports by the US military, the elite unit often operated using questionable and even illegal methods.
58. During the search of a house in Ramadi, members of the Wolf Brigade question two children who were apparently in bed. There is no sign of the children's parents.
59. The Wolf Brigade often made mass arrests. Interior Minister Baqir Solagh had mainly recruited the members of the force from the ranks of Shiite military. This meant that Sunni Muslims in Iraq were afraid that other religious orders might be targeted by police-run death squads.
60. This vehicle was part of a 20-vehicle Wolf Brigade convoy that was ambushed by gunmen in northern Iraq in 2005. The elite unit regularly came under attack from insurgents.
61. Iraqi prisoners wait at a police compound to be set free (November 2005 photo). Most of the prisoners were captured during Operation Knockout in the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. After allegations of torture and mistreatment, some of the prisoners were released.
62. A picture from November 2005 that allegedly shows the injuries sustained by an Iraqi prisoner of the Wolf Brigade, who was tortured in a secret Baghdad prison. US military doctors' reports mention thermal and chemical burns, hematomas and open wounds. The prisoners themselves speak about having limbs cut off, having genitals electrocuted, nails torn out and objects inserted into anuses.
63. Demonstrators on the streets of Baghdad after the death of an Iraqi police officer while in Wolf Brigade custody. The policeman's brother said he and the deceased were arrested, then detained with hundreds of others and tortured, but were not charged.
64. Protests against the Wolf Brigade became more strident in 2005. These demonstrators in Baghdad, in November 2005, carry a sign that reads: "No to the Interior Ministry Wolf Brigade and no to its terrorist acts."
65. Another demonstration in Baghdad against the elite unit in December 2005. The girl holds a sign that says: "They killed my grandfather."