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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Ex-interrogator describes mistaken Iraq raids

By Jeff Stein

A former U.S. military interrogator in Iraq says half the raids Special Operations forces conducted during his terrorist-hunting missions hit the wrong house.

Matthew Alexander, the pen name for Air Force Reserve Maj. Anthony Camerino, describes his struggle to provide compensation for the victims of the raids in a new book, “Kill or Capture: How a Special Operations Task Force Took Down a Notorious Al Qaeda Terrorist,” to be published today.

“Not a day goes by that we [didn’t] carry out a mission,” he writes of a period in 2006 when his team was hunting for insurgent leaders in Iraq. “More than half of our raids [attacked the] wrong houses.”

In speeches, articles and a previous book, Alexander has campaigned against the use of torture in interrogations.

In his new book, he recounts a conversation he had with a superior over compensating an Iraqi family terrorized by a mistaken raid on their house.

“I’m a little concerned about the impact we’re having on civilians,” he writes. “We’ve raided several wrong houses lately…and we should be compensating these families.”

“We have plenty of captured cash,” the mission leader answers.

But Alexander also argued that a proper way of “winning hearts and minds” in the counterinsurgency campaign would be to apologize publicly to the head of the family as well.

“It’s an issue of pride for Iraqis,” he tells his boss. “When we raid their houses, they feel disrespected. Taking a few minutes to restore that respect in front of their families will go a long way towards keeping them from becoming our future enemies.”

His boss was momentarily taken aback, Alexander writes, but then agreed.

The author said in an e-mail that “we even compensated the wives of some guilty terrorists. And at the end of the day our cooperation rates went way up and we got our man.”

In June 2006, Alexander led a team of interrogators that successfully hunted down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi was killed by bombs dropped by U.S. jets during a meeting in an isolated safehouse.

His new book describes the hunt for a Syrian named Zafar, reputed to be the leader of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq.

By Jeff Stein  | February 1, 2011; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military  
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I'm sorry, but isn't this guy's 15 minutes up already? His first book was a self aggrandizing pack of lies, and now he is the official TFC historian? The guy was in country for like 60 days when Zarqawi got blipped, but he acts as if he was the architect of the entire JSOC strategy. Serious toolbag alert. Do not feed the monkey.

Posted by: cabana11 | February 1, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Got to go with cabana11 on this one, knew the guy, and was there during the deal. He hasn't got a clue. Yeah, some dry holes were hit, but not anywhere near 50% like he claims. As to his book(s), guess he forgot about the non-disclosure agreements he signed. Just another clown looking to make a buck on the backs of others, an "Operator" in his own mind. Good call cabana11.

Posted by: ghost930 | February 2, 2011 4:23 AM | Report abuse

The author is a fabricator of the worst kind. There are numerous holes in both his books. anybody familiar with military procedures regarding detainees would instantly see that he is making this stuff up. He had limited involvement in the zarqawi hunt yet acts as though he was central to the effort. The people who did find amz deserve the credit, not this clown.

Posted by: MgB2 | February 5, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

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