Friday, August 07, 2009

Who killed Jim Kitterman?

If you ask me, it's awfully convenient ... to pin the murder on a man who was dead. - Peter
The Abduction and Murder of Jim Kitterman

According to a security alert, on May 21, 2009, contractor Jim Kitterman, 60, was said to have been abducted just after leaving a shop in the International Zone. On the following day, May 22, Kitterman's body was found. He was reported as blindfolded with his hands bound, stabbed twice in the heart with his throat slit, his body "bundled in a plastic bag and dumped in a lot less than a mile from the contractors' residence" [1]. In contradiction, it was also reported he was found in his car.

It's worth noting that conflicting details of the basic who, what, where, when, and why are an ongoing theme in the reporting of the abduction and murder of Jim Kitterman.


Five men, four from security company Corporate Training Unlimited (CTU), were subsequently detained by American and Iraqi authorities, and then later released.

Kitterman knew CTU principals for years, the result of having first hired CTU to provide security. Kitterman eventually moved his company headquarters to inside the CTU compound not far from the US Embassy in Baghdad. From years of working together in Iraq, Kitterman was said to be friends with CTU founder and owner, Don Feeney Jr., 55. Feeney and his son were two of the five men held for a short time.

At the time of Kitterman's abduction and murder, Feeney was out of the country. Three of the five men were at an Embassy party. It's unknown where the fifth man was or what alibi he provided but he was cleared of any involvement.

In late July, a Washington Times article reported that two Iraqis told investigators a deceased American was Kitterman's assailant.

Americans held in Iraq: FBI violated rights
By Bill Gertz, Washington Times, July 20, 2009
A total of five men [Donald Feeney Jr., his son Donald Feeney III, Mark Bridges, Micah Milligan of CTU and independent contractor, Jason Jones] were first arrested by FBI agents, Iraqi police and U.S. Army personnel in Baghdad's Green Zone on June 3 after the killing of American contractor Jim Kitterman, who was found stabbed to death in Baghdad May 22.

The men were later cleared of the murder charges by the Iraqi government, based on testimony from two Iraqi witnesses. A translated Iraqi court document stated that an investigator informed the judge in the case that the witnesses had testified that the murder was committed by an American man who was himself killed around the time of the Kitterman murder.
Pin the murder on the dead man

There's an uncomfortable convenience surrounding the sudden death of Jim Kitterman's 'assailant' so shortly after the murder.

While the assailant is not named, Larry Eugene Young, 42, who also worked for CTU, was killed that very same night - May 21. Young died in a mortar attack that struck his housing unit within the CTU compound. The next day on May 22, discussion at a forum frequented by overseas contractors mentioned the time of the mortar fire that killed Young as 22:45 [2]. However, some news outlets reported 20:00 or 20:15. Within the same discussion thread one commenter later wrote that Kitterman was shot multiple times in the head, not stabbed as reported, his body found near a 'water point' [3].

Contractors Detained in Gruesome Green Zone Slaying
By Nathan Hodge, Danger Room, Wired magazine, June 8, 2009
An employee of CTU was killed last month when a mortar reportedly struck his trailer inside the Green Zone. Feeney told the Fayetteville Observer [4] the employee, Larry Eugene Young, “was sleeping in his hooch when a mortar hit his trailer with a direct hit … He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The following excerpt [5] is from same the article:
Larry Eugene Young, 42, died instantly when a mortar hit his trailer inside the secured CTU compound, said Susan Lackey, a spokeswoman for CTU. Young, a former soldier from Ulysses, Kansas who served in Fort Bragg’s 7th Special Forces Group, had worked in Iraq since 2003, the past four years for CTU. He had an Iraqi wife and daughter, as well as three children from a previous marriage.

Don Feeney, one of CTU’s founders, said he had given Young a personal trailer in the compound so Young could be with his wife and daughter. The wife and daughter were not in the trailer when the mortar hit, Feeney said.
There's not much public information about Young. He seems to have been well liked just judging by the fact that a colleague took the trouble to put up a memorial thread in his name, RIP Wild Weasel, and others took the time to comment on a discussion forum.

There's a little background information in the announcement at the Garnand Funeral Home of Southwest Kansas:
Larry Eugene Young
April 16, 1967 - May 21, 2009
Baghdad, Iraq

Visitation: 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at Garnand Funeral Home in Ulysses, Kansas.

Larry Eugene Young, age 42, died May 21, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. He was born April 16, 1967 at Russell, Kansas, the son of Francis L. “Butch” and Roxana (Smith) Young.

Larry grew up and attended school in Ulysses. While in high school Larry ran cross country. He enjoyed working on cars and hunting, and working with computers. Larry married Velika Ortiz on December 26, 1990 in Panama. To this union three sons were born, Sammy, Larry, and Ralph. Larry served as a Sergeant E6 in the Special Forces for the United States Army from 1985 to 1998. He has spent the last seven years in Iraq working security for Dyna Corp and CTU companies.

Larry married Suzie Ikzar on September 17, 2006 in Baghdad. She survives. Other survivors include three sons, Sammy Young of Liberal, Kansas, Larry Young and Ralph Young both of Hutchinson, Kansas; two daughters, Saba Young and Merriam Young both of Baghdad, Iraq; and his parents, Butch and Roxana Young both of Ulysses.
It seems like an enormous stretch to believe that just one man, Young, who is also conveniently dead, is solely responsible for the abduction and murder of Jim Kitterman. My first cynical thought upon reading the Washington Times article: how much were the two Iraqis paid? My second cynical thought: who paid them? My third thought: anyone tell Young's family?

News Reports

Why so much trouble reporting this particular story? The facts wander all over the place: Kitterman was found in his car. He was found lying next to a water tank. He was found wrapped in plastic. He was found dumped in a lot in a plastic bag. He was last seen arguing with a security guard. He was last seen alone at the end of the day at the Embassy. He was abducted outside a shop....

The only thing everyone seems to agree on: Kitterman was brutally murdered.

I'm struck by the complete lack of interest of the news media to pursue facts in a more orderly manner. Or at least notice what was presented by different sources don't line up.

Here are some questions I'd like to see the news media pursue:
  1. Was Kitterman stabbed or shot or both?
  2. Where was his security that night?
  3. Why was Kitterman blind folded? (that makes no sense if he knew his attacker)
  4. Did someone specifically target the CTU compound for a 'mortar attack' on that particular night?
  5. Why wasn't Young at the Embassy party?
  6. What time was the mortar attack that night - was there more than one?
  7. Did anyone investigate Young's death or was it just written off as a run-of-the-mill mortar attack with no further inquiry?
  8. Were the mortar attack and the Kitterman murder orchestrated by the same person(s)?
  9. Was Kitterman targeted because of an association with CTU and/or owner Feeney?
  10. Was Kitterman mistaken for Feeney?
  11. Will yet another murder investigation in Iraq just end up in the cold case files just as the investigation into the murder of Ryan Manelick faltered?
Always questions....but with the 'evidence' of the two Iraqis, it looks like it's case closed for Jim Kitterman.


[1] Contractor Held in Green Zone Death Is Released
By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, June 11, 2009

[2] RIP Wild Weasel
See comment by Sniper111 May 22. 2009 at 17:47

[3] Ibid
See comment by Goose375 May 23, 2009 at 09:31

[4] Contractor had ties to Bragg, region
By John Ramsey, Fayetteville Observer, May 27, 2009, (original url - no longer active)

[5] Excerpt from Contractor had ties to Bragg, region
Contractor Casualties Iraq and Afghanistan - Larry Eugene Young
Defense Base Act Workman's Compensation blog

Additional Reading

American Killed in Baghdad's Green Zone Identified
By Ernesto Londoño and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, May 23, 2009

Green Zone Killing heightens security fears
By Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press, May 23, 2009

Slain American Led Construction Firm
By Ernesto Londoño and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, May 24, 2009

Civilian contractor with Ariz. ties killed in Iraq remembered
By Elias C. Arnold, The Arizona Republic, May 25, 2009

Five U.S. contractors held in slaying of another in Iraq
CNN, June 6, 2009

Five U.S. contractors held in slaying of another in Iraq - includes video & grainy photos of some of the men
CNN, June 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Murray mother's longing for justice may be satisfied
By Matthew D. LaPlante, The Salt Lake Tribune, June 7, 2009

Contractor detained in Iraq has history of exploits - includes photo
By Greg Barnes, The Fayetteville Observer, June 9, 2009

Iraq police free 3 U.S. contractors
By Ned Parker , LA Times, June 11, 2009

By Tom A. Peter, Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2009

Iraq Clears 5 US Contractors in Killing of American Businessman
By VOA News, Voice of America, June 11, 2009

Fayetteville contractors detained by Iraqis
By Robert H. Reid, The Associated Press, June 12, 2009

2 U.S. Contractors Transferred From Iraqi Jail
By Nada Bakri, Washington Post, June 15, 2009

Related Posts

Update on Kitterman
July 20, 2009

Contractor abducted and killed in Iraq
May 24, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Remains of Capt Speicher found and identified

Remains of US Air Force Captain Michael “Scott” Speicher, missing since Gulf War I, have been positively identified.

Remains of missing US pilot Michael Speicher found after 18 years in desert
By Tim Reid, UK Times, August 2, 2009

After the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, an American military unit was detailed to search for the missing pilot. That lead to a number of false leads, including the discovery of what some believed were the initials “MSS” scratched on the wall of an Iraqi prison.

It now appears that Captain Speicher was buried by nomadic Bedouin tribesmen close to where his F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was shot down during a combat mission on January 17, 1991, the first night of Operation Desert Storm. His plane crashed in a remote, uninhabited wasteland. It is believed he was shot down by a missile fired from an Iraqi aircraft, probably a MiG-25. [...]

The military recovered bones and multiple skeletal fragments, which were flown back to the US. Captain Speicher was positively identified by matching a jawbone and dental records at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

U.S. identifies remains of pilot missing in Persian Gulf War
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2009
The break in the case came recently when an Iraqi contacted Marines with information about the desert crash site. The Marines were then led to another Iraqi living in the desert who said he was present when Speicher's plane crashed and when his body was found and buried by nomadic tribesmen at an obscure place called Wadi Thumayal.
To see a map of Iraq, visit ('click here to zoom' to see the Iraq map online). Wadi Thumayal, which I have been unable to locate on a map so far, is located somewhere within the Anbar governate or province of western Iraq. 

View Larger Map

Photo credit: US Navy

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Two More UK Hostages Believed Dead

Al Jazeera and BBC are reporting that two more of the original five British hostages seized at the Finance Ministry in 2007 are likely dead. Remains of two hostages, Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell, both security personnel, were turned over to British authorities in June. It is now believed that Alec MacLachlan and Alan McMenemy have been killed as well.

UK hostages 'killed in Iraq'
Al Jazeera, July 29, 2009

Two more British hostages held in Iraq are "very likely" to have been killed by their captors, meaning four of a group of five Britons seized in May 2007 are now dead, the UK prime minister has said.

Gordon Brown said his government was "doing everything that we can" to gain the release of Peter Moore, the final hostage, whom he believed to still be alive.

The four hostages were all working as security guards for Moore, who was employed as a contractor in Iraq, when they were kidnapped in the Iraqi finance ministry by around 40 heavily-armed fighters posing as security personnel.
Anguish at hostage death reports
BBC, July 29, 2009
The families of five Britons kidnapped in Iraq in 2007 say they are "deeply upset" to hear two more of the men are likely to have died in captivity.

Government sources say security guards Alan McMenemy and Alec Maclachlan are believed dead. The bodies of two men shot dead have already been released.

Gordon Brown said the fifth man, Peter Moore, was believed to be alive and made a fresh appeal for his release.

Bodies of Two UK Hostages Identified
June 21, 2009