With Fallujah back under the control of Sunni insurgents, the nightmare of Iraq in 2004 is alive again. Today, TMZ published eight horrifying images, allegedly taken nearly a decade ago in Fallujah, which appear to show U.S. Marines posing next to dead bodies, soaking them in gasoline, and lighting them on fire. The gossip site claims to have published just a few of the 41 photos it obtained — “Many are just too gruesome” — and the military has opened an investigation.
“The actions depicted in these photos are not what we expect from our service members, nor do they represent the honorable and professional service of the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Commander Bill Speaks, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, in a statement. “The Marine Corps is currently investigating the veracity of these photos, circumstances involved, and if possible, the identities of the service members involved. The findings from this investigation will determine whether we are able to move forward with any investigation into possible wrongdoing.”
There is no statute of limitations on violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The upsetting pictures are not the first of their kind and track with known abuses in the region by U.S. forces at the time. According to a 2005 report from Human Rights Watch, “The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief for soldiers.”
The recent fall of Fallujah has brought that time to the surface again for some troops. “It’s just like, wow, thanks for dragging up all these memories I tried to forget that were controlling my life,” one soldier told the New York Times recently, calling photos of the recent developments “nauseating.” “For a while I lived out of a bottle trying to shut the memories off,” he said.