RFE/RL Profiles Five Iconic Individuals of the Iraq War

To mark the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, Radio Free Iraq and correspondent Ron Synovitz have profiled five iconic individuals, their lives in transition since the war, and how they came to represent various issues.

Build-Up To War: Ahmed Chalabi
He was viewed by Washington as a potential successor to Saddam Hussein to lead post-war Iraq. But Ahmed Chalabi soon fell out of favor with his American backers. That’s because Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction — the reason given by President George W. Bush’s administration for the invasion – never materialized. It was Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress he heads that U.S. officials later blamed as the source of false information on Saddam’s weapons programs.

Civilian Toll: Ali Ismail Abbas
Ali Ismail Abbas was 12 when a U.S. missile exploded near his family’s home in a southern suburb of Baghdad. After the loss of both arms and burns over 60 percent of his body, doctors in Baghdad didn’t think he would live to see his 13th birthday. But after Time magazine published photographs of Ali in a Baghdad hospital, he unwillingly became the symbol of millions of innocent civilians whose lives were being destroyed by the war.

Prisoner Abuse: Abu Ghraib’s Lynndie England
The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison shocked and angered the world in April 2004 when leaked photographs of cruelty were released by Western media. Eleven American soldiers, including three women, eventually were convicted in the case. But it was a young woman named Lynndie England – a U.S. Army Reserve specialist in the 372nd Military Police Company — who became the face of the scandal.

Iraqi Anger: Shoe-Thrower Mundtadhar al-Zaidi
During a Baghdad press conference in late 2008, Iraqi journalist Mundtadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at the outgoing President Bush – an act of extreme disrespect in the Islamic world. It was an outburst of rage that underlined an evident and growing resistance to U.S. presence in Iraq.

Secrecy And The Battlefield: The Death Of Reuters’ Namir Noor-Eldeen
When Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen rushed to a skirmish in eastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007, he had no idea the story — and his subsequent death — would change the ability of governments to keep sensitive information from the public. Noor-Eldeen was among at least 10 Iraqi men and two children killed that day when a U.S. Apache helicopter mistook them for militants. It was the U.S. military’s failed attempt to cover up the story that made WikiLeaks a household name across the world for publishing secret information online.