COALITION FORCES TRACK DOWN TERRORISTS RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING MND-B SOLDIERSNEWS RELEASE
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
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Editor’s note – this provides additional information beyond that which was provided in press release 20060620-01. A clarification to that release – the one KIA mentioned during the search was Spec. Babineau. No other Soldiers died during the search efforts. The information in this release will be briefed in detail by MG Thurman at the press conference tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – While military medical examiners officially confirmed the identities of two Soldiers found dead near Yusufiaya Thursday, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces intensified efforts to track down and bring to justice the terrorists responsible for murdering three Multi-National Division – Baghdad troops June 16.
Spec. David J. Babineau was killed during an attack on a three-man security team manning a checkpoint before the terrorists overwhelmed the position, taking Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker to an unknown location and later killing them.
The attack occurred south of Yusufiyah where the Soldiers were guarding a canal crossing next to the Euphrates River.
Within one hour of the attack, the immediate area was cordoned off by both air and ground forces and search operations began.
A combined and joint force of more than 8,000 Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces assembled to take part in the search. The force included three MND-B brigade combat teams, Iraqi army, national and local police, adjacent units from Multi-National Force – West, Navy and Air Force aircraft and other Coalition Forces.
The Coalition and ISF used all available resources including, air, ground and water to locate the Soldiers. While Air Force para-rescue dive teams searched the canals, engineers patrolled the Euphrates River and Coalition unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters patrolled from the sky.
Twenty-five military operations were conducted, including 11 air assault missions. More than 12 villages and an old power plant were searched. In the massive effort to locate the missing Soldiers, 12 CF Soldiers were wounded.
Six caches were discovered. Two of the weapons caches were found in the power plant. Some of the contraband found in the caches included a suicide vest, gun powder, plastic explosives with detonation cord, grenades, AK-47s, and homemade rocket launchers with several rockets.
Throughout the process, Iraqi citizens from across Baghdad provided almost 80 tips, which were all investigated. Coalition Soldiers engaged local religious, community and political leaders to maintain support and gain information.
In an attempt to thwart the search effort, the enemy conducted a series of harassing attacks with improvised-explosive devices and indirect fire, all of which failed to stop the search. Ten IEDs detonated and 17 were found by searchers before detonation.
Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces detained 36 suspected anti-Iraqi forces involved in the murders and killed two enemy fighters. Coalition Forces surged interrogation operations around-the-clock for three days while the search for the Soldiers continued.
Acting on a tip from a local Iraqi tribal leader and another one from a detainee, MND-B Soldiers discovered the two sets of remains June 19 at approximately 7:50 p.m. next to a road near the village of Mufaraji, northwest of Yusufiyah. The local Iraqi also informed the Soldiers to watch for explosives.
To ensure the safety of the Soldiers, the commander established security and cordoned the area to wait until daylight to approach the bodies. An explosive ordnance disposal team arrived on site to clear the route.
At first light, the engineers cleared the route up to the site of the bodies, fighting their way through three roadside bombs in the process.
The two bodies, severely traumatized, were found bound together with an IED between one of the Soldiers' legs. The engineers successfully cleared the IED and the surrounding area to allow recovery of the remains.
The remains were airlifted to a Coalition morgue near Baghdad International Airport by 8:25 a.m. Tuesday before they were sent to Dover Air Force Base, Del.
A formal investigation has been directed by Maj. Gen. James
D. Thurman, the commanding general of MND-B, to determine the facts surrounding the attack on the Soldiers.
Two Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists were killed in this operation, to include a senior AQI lieutenant.
The search continues for additional terrorists responsible for the barbaric attack. Forty detainees from previous operations have been interrogated about their connection with individuals linked to the murder of the Soldiers. Of the 36 detainees taken during the search, 13 are providing intelligence of value to the Coalition. Military specialists have conducted more than 92 interrogations. Two of the detainees have admitted to being Al Qaeda members and were captured in the vicinity of the remains.
"Precision direct action operations will continue as a result of the intelligence gleaned from those detained and the information gained from increased operations south of Baghdad," said Thurman. "MND-B, with the ISF, will continue to actively target terrorists and criminals who operate outside of the rule of law."
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS RELEASE, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL DIVISION - BAGHDAD PUBLIC AFFAIRS NCO IN CHARGE, MASTER SGT ERIC LOBSINGER