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Mission 25 - Overview
Najaf: Mahdi Cemetery Battle

Najaf, Iraq. August 5, 2004: After months of sieges and ambushes in Najaf, the Mahdi Army uses a five-acre cemetery to stage its largest assault yet on the US Army and Marines.

In recent months, the city of Najaf has been home to some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Fueled by the burning rhetoric of cleric leader Muqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army has heeded a call to arms. “Terrorize your enemies,” al-Sadr instructs. And indeed, they do. Once al-Sadr takes refuge in Najaf in April, the insurgents dominate the city. Bombings and ambushes against Iraqi security forces and the coalition move along steadily through the futile days of broken talks and ineffectual treaties, but the US military’s patience is not limitless. When the Mahdi Army launches repeated, callous attacks on the Najaf police station, the Marines and First Cavalry soldiers hunt down the insurgents.

The Mahdi Army claims it set a trap. After luring US forces from the police station into the Wadi Al Salam cemetery, the rebels initiate a full-scale conflict. US Army soldiers and Marines are at the ready, but the battleground is acres upon acres of headstones, underground tombs, and tall mausoleums. In all, the stone markers for as many as five million dead Muslims provide intricate hiding spots for hundreds of fighters in a three week firestorm.

In this week’s Kuma News Report, Jacki Schechner and Major General Thomas L. Wilkerson, CEO of the United States Naval Institute, discuss the tactics of the Mahdi Army’s campaign and why Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia is still fighting US and coalition troops. You’ll also hear from US Army Staff Sergeant Dan Snyder, who shares the strategies you’ll want to employ to navigate your way through this intense mission. Finally, test the theories of our experts by leading your team through the bizarre battlefield that is the Wadi Al Salam cemetery.


Najaf: Mahdi Cemetery Battle

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