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War Stories: Crashing An Iraqi Wedding

Read this soldier's account of what it's like to catch a terrorist on his wedding day...

Photo by Jack Murphy


If you want to catch a terrorist you have to locate him first, and the one place you know for a fact that he will be, is at is his own wedding. By 2009, insurgents and terrorists in Iraq had gotten fairly wily. For years, the U.S. Special Operations Task Force had been churning through the enemy. I played a small part in that endeavor in 2005, as a Corporal in 3rd Ranger Battalion. We rolled outside the wire and into Mosul almost every night, often times conducting multiple direct action raids during a single period of darkness, before refitting and preparing to do it all over again.


I decided to make the jump to Special Forces, and by 2009 I was the Senior Weapons Sergeant in an ODA in 5th Special Forces Group, and back in my old stomping grounds in Mosul. The problem was that the enemy had learned from their engagements with U.S. Special Operations Forces, and took increasingly sophisticated measures to try to trip us up and avoid our raids. So, when we found out that a big name terrorist was getting married, and where the marriage would be held, a lot of uncertainty was taken out of the equation. This clown-shoes-wearing moron had to be at his own damn wedding.


We rolled into Mosul that afternoon in our Humvees, heading towards the target house. One difference between my time with the Ranger Regiment and my new job was that, as a Special Forces team, we were always partnered with our Iraqi counter-parts, in this case a SWAT team from nearby Tal Afar. With a platoon-sized element of Iraqis, our ODA snaked our vehicles through the flooded back alleys of Mosul. The city had taken a beating since I was last there four years ago. Somehow Mosul had managed to get even worse, and looked like Beirut back in the 80s due to the number of collapsed buildings and structures that were covered with bullet pockmarks. Mosul had always been one of the most violent cities in Iraq, and now the enemy was building IED’s bigger and bigger in order to defeat the armor packages that Coalition Forces had put on their vehicles to protect us from the previous, smaller IED’s. Like I said, the enemy was learning and adapting.


After navigating the labyrinth-like streets, we pulled up in front of the objective and unassed the vehicles. I was an Assault Team leader, taking four Iraqi SWAT troops through the front door. It was all over in a flash, fairly anti-climatic, which is the way it should be. If the enemy has time to react to your raid then you’ve lost the element of surprise, and with it, the advantage. Special Forces soldiers like to engage the enemy at a place and time of their choosing, rather than let the enemy dictate the terms of the fight.


The terrorist we were after was in the courtyard with the other men. He was put on the ground, and a Glock 19 pistol was found tucked into the waistband of his suit. The wedding had been completed and now the men would begin drinking, the dowry (a lethargic goat that sat panting in the courtyard for the duration of our stay) would be killed, and a meal cooked. In the backroom, the women were holding court separately. The bride broke out in tears as we secured the home, and the Iraqi women began screaming at us. As we soon found out, the bride was only sixteen years old.


But it gets better: We crashed this wedding at the 11th hour. Had we delayed any longer, had we gotten lost down one of the side streets, the terrorist would have consummated the marriage. That’s right. We crashed the wedding just in time to save a teenage girl’s virginity from this terrorist asshole. No big deal or anything. This was how our ODA got the name “The Wedding Crashers.”


Read the rest of this article here, courtesy of our buddies over at SOFREP!