Hope is not a method in this operation. It's our duty.There is probably no non-urban area in Iraq more challenging to conduct a search for captured soldiers than the Triangle of Death.-- Colonel Michael Kershaw
The triangle is crisscrossed by irrigation ditches and canals that flow from the
The fertile region is dotted with family-owned farms growing barley and wheat, date palm groves, villages and small towns like Cargouli, where the ambush took place, and occasional mansions that once belonged to Saddam Hussein loyalists
From the outset of the war, the American presence has been deeply resented and there have been innumerable clashes between the occupiers and the occupied, as well as suicide bombings at mosques and other high-profile targets.The insurgents, in turn, have imposed their strict brand of Islam through murder and intimidation, and weakened the authority of tribal sheiks.
While there are Shiites living in the triangle, Sunni tribes proliferate. Their hatred of the Shiite-dominated central government in
runs deep and willingness to allow insurgent groups, more recently and most prominently including Al Qaeda, to roam freely through the area is unbounded. Baghdad
Two factors make the situation even worse:
* There is a seemingly endless supply of weapons looted from ammunition depots in the region before American forces focused on finding WMD could secure them.
* After the invasion, the economy of the region collapsed and there are no economic alternatives to joining the insurgency, so many young men have done so.
That may be as simple as the fact that a courier bearing a videotape has not been able to make it through the American and Iraqi cordon to a site where it can be broadcast, but the silence at this point is deafening.Bill Roggio reports that the trail seems to have gone cold and the search area has widened. That is not a good sign.
Al Qaeda originally said that the ambush and abductions were in retaliation for the March 2006 rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and murder of her family near Mahmudiyah, a village in the southeastern corner of the triangle.
The horrific crime was led by a small group of 502nd Infantry Regiment soldiers led Steven Green. He and three other soldiers have been charged.
In June 2006, Al Qaeda insurgents kidnapped, tortured, beheaded and booby trapped the bodies of two of Green's comrades, having killed a third soldier earlier, all in what the insurgents asserted was revenge for the rape-murders.
Friday: Who Are the Dead and Missing Men?
Thursday: Has the Search Impacte don the Surge?
Wednesday: Anatomy of An Abduction & Search