A Chaotic Day On Bagh­dad’s Air­port Road

The Washington Post Sunday - - Front Page - By Steve Fainaru

On the af­ter­noon of July 8, 2006, four private se­cu­rity guards rolled out of Bagh­dad’s Green Zone in an ar­mored SUV. The team leader, Ja­cob C. Wash­bourne, rode in the front pas­sen­ger seat. He seemed in a good mood. His vacation started the next day.

“I want to kill some­body to­day,” Wash­bourne said, ac­cord­ing to the three other men in the ve­hi­cle, who later re­called it as an off­hand re­mark. Be­fore the day was over, how­ever, the guards had been in­volved in three shoot­ing in­ci­dents. In one, Wash- bourne al­legedly fired into the wind­shield of a taxi for amuse­ment, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views and state­ments from the three other guards.

Wash­bourne, a 29-year-old for­mer Marine, de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. “They’re all un­founded, un­based, and they sim­ply did not hap­pen,” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view near his home in Bro­ken Ar­row, Okla.

The full story of what hap­pened on Bagh­dad’s air­port road that day may never be known. But a Wash­ing­ton Post in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the in­ci­dents pro­vides a rare look inside the world of private se­cu­rity con­trac­tors, the hired guns who fight a par­al­lel and largely hid­den war in Iraq. The con­trac­tors face the same dan­gers as the mil­i­tary, but many come to the war for big money, and they op­er­ate out­side most of the laws that gov­ern Amer­i­can forces.

The U.S. mil­i­tary has brought charges against dozens of sol­diers and Marines in Iraq, in­clud­ing 64 ser­vice­men linked to mur­ders. Not a sin­gle case has been brought against a se­cu­rity con­trac­tor, and con­fu­sion is wide­spread among con­trac­tors and the mil­i­tary over what laws, if any, ap­ply to their con­duct. The Pen­tagon es­ti­mates that at

June 2: Hilla

least 20,000 se­cu­rity con­trac­tors work in Iraq, the size of an ad­di­tional di­vi­sion.

Private con­trac­tors were granted im­mu­nity from the Iraqi le­gal process in 2004 by L. Paul Bre­mer, head of the Coali­tion Pro­vi­sional Author­ity, the U.S. oc­cu­pa­tion gov­ern­ment. More re­cently, the mil­i­tary and Congress have moved to es­tab­lish guide­lines for pros­e­cut­ing con­trac­tors un­der U.S. law or the Uni­form Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice, but so far the is­sue re­mains un­re­solved.

The only known in­quiry into the July 8 in­ci­dents was con­ducted by Triple Canopy, a 31⁄ 2- year-old com­pany founded by re­tired Spe­cial Forces of­fi­cers and based in Hern­don. Triple Canopy em­ployed the four guards. Af­ter the one-week probe, the com­pany con­cluded that three ques­tion­able shoot­ing in­ci­dents had oc­curred that day and fired Wash­bourne and two other em­ploy­ees, Shane B. Sch­midt and Charles L. Shep­pard III.

Lee A. Van Ars­dale, Triple Canopy’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said the three men failed to re­port the shoot­ings im­me­di­ately, a vi­o­la­tion of com­pany pol­icy and lo­cal De­fense De­part­ment re­quire­ments for re­port­ing in­ci­dents. He said Triple Canopy was un­able to de­ter­mine the cir­cum­stances be­hind the shoot­ings, es­pe­cially since no deaths or in­juries were recorded by U.S. or Iraqi au­thor­i­ties.

“You have to as­sume that, if some­one en­gages, he is fol­low­ing the rules and that he did feel a threat,” Van Ars­dale said, adding that con­flict­ing ac­counts, de­lays in re­port­ing the in­ci­dents and lack of ev­i­dence made it im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine ex­actly what pro­voked the shoot­ings. Triple Canopy of­fi­cials said they have lob­bied for more reg­u­la­tion of con­trac­tors since 2004 to bet­ter de­fine how in­ci­dents such as the July 8 shoot­ings are re­ported and in­ves­ti­gated.

Many de­tails about the shoot­ings are in dis­pute. This ac­count is based on com­pany af­ter-ac­tion re­ports and other doc­u­ments, court fil­ings, and in­ter­views with cur­rent and for­mer Triple Canopy em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing all four men rid­ing in the ar­mored Chevro­let Sub­ur­ban that day.

Sch­midt and Shep­pard said they were hor­ri­fied by what they de­scribed as a shoot­ing ram­page by Wash­bourne and waited two days to come for­ward be­cause they feared for their jobs and their lives. The two have sued Triple Canopy in Fair­fax County Cir­cuit Court, ar­gu­ing that the com­pany fired them for re­port­ing a crime.

But an­other man in the ve­hi­cle, Fi­jian army vet­eran Isireli Naucukidi, said Shep­pard, who was driv­ing, cut off the taxi on Wash­bourne’s or­ders, giv­ing him a bet­ter shot. Naucukidi said the three Amer­i­can guards laughed as they sped away, the fate of the Iraqi taxi driver un­known. Sch­midt told Wash­bourne, “Nice shot,” ac­cord­ing to Naucukidi.

Naucukidi also said that Sch­midt was re­spon­si­ble for an ear­lier shoot­ing in­ci­dent that af­ter­noon in­volv­ing a white civil­ian truck, and that he be­lieved Sch­midt and Shep­pard had blamed Wash­bourne to cover up their own po­ten­tial cul­pa­bil­ity. Sch­midt de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for that shoot­ing but ac­knowl­edged in an in­ter­view he had fired a warn­ing shot into the grille of a car on a sep­a­rate air­port run that morn­ing and had failed to re­port it.

Naucukidi left Triple Canopy on his own shortly af­ter the in­ci­dents oc­curred. Com­pany of­fi­cials said he was not fired be­cause, un­like the three other guards, he had re­ported the shoot­ings im­me­di­ately. Dur­ing an in­ter­view on the Fi­jian is­land of Ovalau, where he farms, Naucukidi said he de­cided not to re­turn to Triple Canopy be­cause “I couldn’t stand what was hap­pen­ing. It seemed like ev­ery day they were cov­er­ing some­thing” up.

The pres­ence of heav­ily armed guards on the bat­tle­field has long been a wild card in the Iraq war. In­sur­gents fre­quently at­tack them. Iraqi civil­ians have ex­pressed fear of their some­times heavy-handed tac­tics, which have in­cluded run­ning ve­hi­cles off the road and fir­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately to ward off at­tacks.

Cur­rent and for­mer Triple Canopy em­ploy­ees said they po­liced them­selves in Iraq un­der an in­for­mal sys­tem they fre­quently re­ferred to as “big boy rules.”

“We never knew if we fell un­der mil­i­tary law, Amer­i­can law, Iraqi law, or what­ever,” Shep­pard said. “We were al­ways told, from the very be­gin­ning, if for some rea­son some­thing hap­pened and the Iraqis were try­ing to pros­e­cute us, they would put you in the back of a car and sneak you out of the coun­try in the mid­dle of the night.”

Naucukidi said the Amer­i­can con­trac­tors had their own motto: “What hap­pens here to­day, stays here to­day.”

Wash­bourne sported a shaved head, a goa­tee and a mo­saic of tat­toos and pierc­ings on his mus­cu­lar, 6-foot-3-inch frame. He led one of two teams on Triple Canopy’s “Mil­wau­kee” project, a con­tract to pro­tect ex­ec­u­tives of KBR Inc., a Hal­libur­ton sub­sidiary, on Iraq’s dan­ger­ous roads. He earned $600 a day com­mand­ing a small unit of guards armed with M-4 ri­fles and 9mm pis­tols, the same cal­iber weapons used by U.S. troops.

The men re­ferred to each other by their ra­dio call signs. Wash­bourne was “JW,” his ini­tials. Shep­pard, a for­mer U.S. Army Ranger, was “Shrek,” for his re­sem­blance to the car­toon mon­ster. Sch­midt, a for­mer Marine sniper, was “Happy,” an ironic ref­er­ence to his surly de­meanor. Naucukidi was “Isi,” an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of his first name.

Sch­midt and Shep­pard earned $500 a day. Naucukidi earned $70 a day for the same work.

One of the largest se­cu­rity firms in Iraq, Triple Canopy was known for its elite, dis­ci­plined guards, in­clud­ing many Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions vet­er­ans from all branches of ser­vice. The com­pany pro­vides se­cu­rity at some check­points inside Bagh­dad’s Green Zone. But Triple Canopy of­fi­cials said the com­pany is not re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing the Iraqi par­lia­ment build­ing, where a bomb Thurs­day killed at least one per­son and wounded at least 20.

On the Mil­wau­kee project, Wash­bourne came to sym­bol­ize a lack of dis­ci­pline that was a de­par­ture from the com­pany’s approach, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral cur­rent and for­mer em­ploy­ees.

Un­like the U.S. mil­i­tary, which pro­hibits drink­ing, Triple Canopy em­ploy­ees ran their own bar, called the Gem, inside the Green Zone. Wash­bourne some­times drank so heav­ily his sub­or­di­nates had to roust him for his own op­er­a­tions brief­ings, four cur­rent and for­mer em­ploy­ees said. Wash­bourne said he drank, but sel­dom to ex­cess.

An in­ci­dent a month be­fore the shoot­ings un­der­scored doubts among his col­leagues about Wash­bourne’s lead­er­ship, sev­eral of them said. On June 2, Wash­bourne was lead­ing a con­voy to a State De­part­ment com­pound in Hilla, about 60 miles south of Bagh­dad. The Sub­ur­ban in which he was a pas­sen­ger jumped a curb at a high rate of speed, shat­ter­ing the axles and halt­ing the ex­posed SUV in the mid­dle of the high­way.

A blue civil­ian truck sud­denly flew around a blind curve and headed to­ward the con­voy, ac­cord­ing to Wash­bourne and Naucukidi, who was rid­ing with him that day. Wash­bourne fired more than a dozen rounds into the on­com­ing truck with his M-4, wound­ing the driver. He later said he felt threat­ened. Wash­bourne then in­sisted on torch­ing his dam­aged SUV with in­cen­di­ary grenades in­stead of hav­ing it towed.

Wash­bourne said he was fol­low­ing stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure, which calls for a ve­hi­cle to be de­stroyed once it is dis­abled to pre­vent it from fall­ing into the hands of in­sur­gents.

Naucukidi said Wash­bourne or­dered the guards to tell in­ves­ti­ga­tors that the con­voy had been at­tacked by in- sur­gents, even though many of them be­lieved it had merely been in­volved in a traf­fic ac­ci­dent. Wash­bourne in­sisted that a small ex­plo­sion pre­cip­i­tated the in­ci­dent and that the SUV had been run off the road by an­other ve­hi­cle.

When the team re­turned to Bagh­dad, Naucukidi said, it was met by Ryan D. Thoma­son, a close friend of Wash­bourne’s who was serv­ing as act­ing project man­ager.

“What hap­pens here to­day, stays here to­day,” Thoma­son said, ac­cord­ing to Naucukidi. “Good job, boys.”

Thoma­son in­structed the team not to dis­cuss the in­ci­dent for se­cu­rity rea­sons, said his at­tor­ney, Michael E. Schwartz. Triple Canopy re­cently opened a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent af­ter new in­for­ma­tion about it sur­faced dur­ing lit­i­ga­tion over the July 8 shoot­ings.

July 8: Bagh­dad Air­port

The July 8 af­ter­noon run was to be Wash­bourne’s last be­fore he re­turned to Oklahoma. The team was to travel to Bagh­dad In­ter­na­tional Air­port to pick up a client, then re­turn to the Green Zone.

Wash­bourne, as team leader, led a pre-mis­sion brief­ing in the park­ing lot. As the brief­ing con­cluded, ac­cord­ing to Naucukidi, Wash­bourne cocked his M-4 and said, “I want to kill some­body to­day.”

Naucukidi said he asked why. He re­called that Wash­bourne replied: “Be­cause I’m go­ing on vacation to­mor­row. That’s a long time, buddy.”

In an in­ci­dent re­port that he later sub­mit­ted to Triple Canopy, Shep­pard wrote that Wash­bourne also in­formed him that he was “go­ing to kill some­one to­day.” In an in­ter­view, Sch­midt said he heard a sim­i­lar re­mark. Wash­bourne de­nied mak­ing any com­ment about his hope or in­ten­tion to kill that day.

Naucukidi said he didn’t take the com­ment se­ri­ously, be­cause Wash­bourne fre­quently made sim­i­lar jokes. “He did this re­ally ev­ery mis­sion: ‘Okay, let’s go shoot some­body,’ ” Naucukidi said.

Wash­bourne sat in the front pas­sen­ger seat of the “fol­low” ve­hi­cle — the third Sub­ur­ban in a three-truck con­voy, which in­cluded a lead ve­hi­cle, filled with guards, and what they called the “limo,” a Sub­ur­ban used to ferry the client. Shep­pard drove. Sch­midt and Naucukidi sat be­hind them fac­ing back­ward to pro­tect against a rear at­tack.

The four men agree on what hap­pened next. The con­voy ar­rived at Check­point 1, just out­side the air­port, and set up a block­ing po­si­tion to al­low the lead ve­hi­cle and the “limo” to pro­ceed through the check­point. The con­trac­tors no­ticed a small white pickup truck mov­ing up slowly be­hind them from a dis­tance of about 200 yards. At this point, the sto­ries di­verge. Naucukidi said Shep­pard moved the Sub­ur­ban to give Sch­midt a bet­ter view. Naucukidi said that he and Sch­midt tried to warn the white truck to stop but that it was still mov­ing for­ward when Sch­midt fired three times with his M-4. He said the truck stopped im­me­di­ately but was still too far away for the men to see where the bul­lets hit.

Naucukidi also said the truck was too far away and was mov­ing too slowly to pose a threat.

Sch­midt and Shep­pard waited two days be­fore com­ing for­ward, then gave nearly iden­ti­cal ac­counts of what hap­pened. Both said that it was Wash­bourne who shot at the white truck and that he fired in­ten­tion­ally into the wind­shield. “His in­ten­tion was to kill,” said Sch­midt, who claimed he saw a “splash” of glass from the bul­lets strik­ing the wind­shield.

Sch­midt and Shep­pard said Wash­bourne warned them not to men­tion the in­ci­dent, quot­ing him as say­ing, “That didn’t hap­pen, un­der­stand?”

Wash­bourne said he only re­called fir­ing two warn­ing shots at a much larger white truck in an in­ci­dent dur­ing a dif­fer­ent run that morn­ing. Naucukidi said he be­lieves Wash­bourne is con­fus­ing that shoot­ing with yet an­other in­ci­dent that had oc­curred at the same lo­ca­tion a few days ear­lier.

“There was no com­ments about ‘That didn’t hap­pen, you un­der­stand,’ or any­thing,” Wash­bourne said.

“I am not a clever or witty man; I don’t say things like that,” he said. “And I’m not a mor­bid or sadis­tic” per­son.

July 8: Route Ir­ish

The con­voy con­tin­ued through the check­point to pick up the KBR ex­ec­u­tive at the air­port. It then left the air­port and be­gan the re­turn trip.

Shep­pard wrote that he ob­served “an Am­bu­lance and a lot of ac­tiv­ity” where the shoot­ing had taken place. He and Sch­midt said Wash­bourne threat­ened them again not to say any­thing.

Wash­bourne de­nied mak­ing any threats and said no am­bu­lance was parked near the check­point. Naucukidi also said he did not see an am­bu­lance.

The con­voy con­tin­ued down the air­port road, called Route Ir­ish by the mil­i­tary and con­trac­tors, to­ward the Green Zone. It reached speeds of 80 miles per hour.

Sch­midt, Shep­pard and Naucukidi agree that the con­voy then came upon a taxi.

Ac­cord­ing to the ac­counts of Sch­midt and Shep­pard, Wash­bourne re­marked, “I’ve never shot any­one with my pis­tol be­fore.” As the Sub­ur­ban passed on the left, Wash­bourne pushed open the ar­mored door, leaned out with his hand­gun and fired “7 or 8 rounds” into the taxi’s wind­shield, both wrote in their state­ments.

Sch­midt wrote: “From my po­si­tion as we passed I could see the taxi had been hit in the wind­shield, due to the Spi­der­ing of the glass and the pace we were trav­el­ling, I could not tell if the driver had been hit, He did pull the car off the road in an er­ratic man­ner.” Shep­pard said Wash­bourne was “laugh­ing” as he fired. Wash­bourne called their ac­counts “an ab­so­lute, to­tal fab­ri­ca­tion.” He said the Sub­ur­ban’s high rate of speed and the wind re­sis­tance would have made the shoot­ing “phys­i­cally im­pos­si­ble.”

“There’s not an ounce of truth in it. It did not hap­pen,” Wash­bourne said an­grily. “And as far as the state­ment goes where I said, ‘I’ve never shot any­one with my pis­tol,’ that is a lie. It was never one time said.”

Naucukidi said that Wash­bourne fired at the taxi with his M-4 and that he or­dered Shep­pard to cut off the taxi be­fore­hand. Naucukidi said Shep­pard fol­lowed the or­der and used the Sub­ur­ban to slow down the taxi and give Wash­bourne a bet­ter po­si­tion to shoot from.

“When we were slightly ahead, JW just opened his door and started shoot­ing the taxi from where we were sit­ting,” Naucukidi said in an in­ter­view.

Naucukidi de­scribed the taxi driver as a 60- to 70-yearold man. He said he saw one hole in the taxi’s wind­shield but could not tell if the driver had been hit. He said the taxi abruptly stopped.

“From my point of view, this old man, he was so in­no­cent, be­cause he was ahead of us with a nor­mal speed,” Naucukidi said. “He couldn’t have any dan­ger for us.”

Shep­pard sped away to catch up to the rest of the con­voy, ac­cord­ing to Naucukidi, who added that the three Amer­i­cans were laugh­ing and that Sch­midt reached over, tapped Wash­bourne on the shoul­der and told him, “Nice shot.” “They felt that it was so funny,” Naucukidi said. Sch­midt de­nied that he com­pli­mented Wash­bourne. “No, I don’t get a thrill out of killing in­no­cent peo­ple,” he said. “That was a mo­ment of shame.”

Di­ver­gent Re­ports

When the con­voy re­turned to the Green Zone, mem­bers of the team scat­tered.

Naucukidi said he im­me­di­ately told his su­per­vi­sor, Jona Masirewa, who served as a li­ai­son be­tween the Fi­jian con­trac­tors and the Amer­i­cans, about the in­ci­dents. He said Masirewa in­structed him to write up a re­port to use in case an in­ves­ti­ga­tion oc­curred.

Naucukidi wrote the one-page re­port on his lap­top. It con­tained brief sum­maries of the two af­ter­noon shoot­ings.

Of the first in­ci­dent, near the air­port check­point, Naucukidi wrote that the white truck was ap­proach­ing slowly and was 200 me­ters away when Sch­midt opened fire: “Happy shot three (3) rounds from his M4 ri­fle, and the white bongo truck stopped.”

In the sec­ond in­ci­dent, Naucukidi wrote, the Sub­ur­ban “over took one white taxi with an Iraqi sin­gle pack,” or pas­sen­ger. He wrote that “our team leader opened his door and fired three rounds at white taxi.”

But Naucukidi said Masirewa feared los­ing his job and did not im­me­di­ately turn over the re­port. “It was a dif­fi­cult thing for us be­cause we are TCNs,” or third-coun­try na­tion­als, “and they are ex­pats,” Naucukidi said. “They are team lead­ers, and they make com­mands and re­ports on us. And the team lead­ers were al­ways say­ing, ‘What hap­pens to­day, stays to­day,’ and if some­thing like that hap­pens, the team lead­ers, they start cov­er­ing each other up.”

Masirewa, who is still em­ployed by Triple Canopy in Iraq, did not re­turn e-mails seek­ing com­ment.

By the time Wash­bourne went on vacation the fol­low­ing day, Sch­midt and Shep­pard had not re­ported the in­ci­dents. Sch­midt said he was con­cerned about “catch­ing a bul­let in the head.” Shep­pard said he was so shaken he spent the night at an­other lo­ca­tion inside the Green Zone.

But other em­ploy­ees did not be­lieve that Sch­midt and Shep­pard feared for their safety. Rather, they said, the two men feared for their high-pay­ing jobs and be­lieved that Thoma­son, the as­sis­tant project man­ager, would throw his sup­port be­hind Wash­bourne, his close friend.

On July 10, two days af­ter the in­ci­dents on the air­port run, Shep­pard fi­nally went to Asa Esslinger, an­other su­per­vi­sor, and re­ported them to Triple Canopy man­age­ment.

‘Just a Ram­pant Day’

On July 12, back home in Oklahoma, Wash­bourne re­ceived a call on his cell­phone from Triple Canopy’s coun­try man­ager, Kelvin Kai, he re­called later.

Wash­bourne said Kai asked him if he re­mem­bered any shoot­ing in­ci­dents July 8. Wash­bourne said he told Kai that he had forgotten to file writ­ten re­ports. He said he rushed to his apart­ment from a Tulsa pizza restau­rant and sent in the re­ports from his lap­top.

Two hours later, Kai called again from Bagh­dad. “He said that al­le­ga­tions were made that it was just a ram­pant day, is I be­lieve what he called it, of shoot­ing and may­hem,” Wash­bourne re­called. “I said, ‘No, boss, you got those two re­ports.’ ”

Kai could not be reached for com­ment. Triple Canopy de­clined to make him avail­able, cit­ing the on­go­ing law­suit.

The fol­low­ing day, Triple Canopy sus­pended Sch­midt and Shep­pard pend­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. No ac­tion was im­me­di­ately taken against Wash­bourne be­cause he was home on leave, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“It is es­sen­tial that we have your com­plete co­op­er­a­tion in re­port­ing the facts and cir­cum­stances of all the ac­tiv­i­ties not only to Triple Canopy but also to of­fi­cials from DoD and KBR if nec­es­sary,” wrote Tony Ni­chol­son, a Triple Canopy vice pres­i­dent, in let­ters to Sch­midt and Shep­pard.

Triple Canopy said it took state­ments from 30 po­ten­tial wit­nesses for its in­ter­nal probe. One week later, the three guards were in­formed by Ray­mond P. Ran­dall, a se­nior vice pres­i­dent of Triple Canopy, that they had been fired.

“I am per­son­ally dis­ap­pointed that you failed to im­me­di­ately rec­og­nize the se­ri­ous­ness of this breach of op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures and its po­ten­tial im­pact on the com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion,” Ran­dall wrote.

The ter­mi­na­tions did not pre­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the mil­i­tary, Ran­dall wrote.

Van Ars­dale, a re­tired colonel in the Army’s Delta Force and a win­ner of the Sil­ver Star, said Triple Canopy re­ported the in­ci­dents to KBR and to mil­i­tary of­fi­cials in the Green Zone.

Triple Canopy of­fi­cials said that be­cause of the se­ri­ous­ness of the al­le­ga­tions, they ex­pected that the mil­i­tary would con­duct a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine whether fur­ther ac­tion was war­ranted.

Lt. Col. Michael J. Hartig, the for­mer di­rec­tor of se­cu­rity for the Green Zone, said Triple Canopy of­fi­cials ap­proached him in his of­fice but did not spec­ify the al­le­ga­tions. “They men­tioned they had a cou­ple guys do some things that were ques­tion­able on the road, and that was pretty much it,” he said.

Hartig said he in­formed Triple Canopy that such in­ci­dents were “out of my venue.” He said he re­ferred the com­pany to the Joint Con­tract­ing Com­mand for Iraq and Afghanistan, which ad­min­is­ters con­tracts. “I didn’t want to get in­volved in this be­cause I had enough go­ing on in my life,” Hartig said. “It was like, ‘Here’s the point of con­tact. Have a nice day.’ ”

Two mil­i­tary spokes­peo­ple said they were un­aware of any in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the shoot­ings. Maj. David W. Small, a spokesman for the United States Cen­tral Com­mand, which over­sees Iraq, said: “This is not a Centcom is­sue. It’s whoever was run­ning that con­tract.”

“We’re fight­ing a war here,” Small said. Staff writer Tom Jack­man and staff re­searcher Julie Tate con­trib­uted to this re­port.

COUR­TESY OF ISIRELI NAUCUKIDI

Col­leagues said Ja­cob Wash­bourne, a Triple Canopy team leader, fired at ve­hi­cles on Bagh­dad’s air­port road. The firm con­ducted the only known probe of the shoot­ings and said it could not de­ter­mine the cir­cum­stances be­hind them.

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