The night of Sept. 1, 2009, Echo Platoon of Navy SEAL Team 10 headed out into the Fallujah night. Their goal: concluding a five-year search for the al Qaeda killer who had been responsible for the shocking 2004 murders of four American military contractors — one of them an ex-SEAL — whose bodies were then burned, dragged through the streets and hanged from a bridge.
Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as a charred boy hangs from a bridge over the Euphrates river in FallujahPhoto: Getty Images
This night the SEALs departed with these words from their commanding officer: “Gents, stay sharp, and expect a firefight.”
In the event, no shots were fired, but the SEALs faced another kind of ambush: a humiliating, baffling, infuriating struggle with the military-justice system that would end with an unsatisfying victory.
Because the man those SEALs captured — Ahmad Hashim Abd Al-Isawi, aka “the Butcher of Fallujah,” a man who lived for mayhem — somehow sustained a bloody lip on the night of his capture.