Herbert A. Friedman

    A New Iraqi Currency

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CPA G0075

Another leaflet that should be mentioned depicts the new Iraqi currency. After the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition forces and the fall of the government of Saddam Hussein, the old currency was invalid. The occupying powers, working with selected individuals within Iraq and the Central Bank of Iraq designed a new series of Post-Saddam banknotes. The Coalition printed a leaflet that depicted the various banknotes and explained the features that the Iraqi people should look for to be assured that the currency was legitimate and genuine. The leaflet was coded CPA G0075 and printed in full color.

An Iraqi interpreter who worked with American PSYOP troops told me:

The best Coalition leaflet was the one regarding the new Iraqi money notes and the quality measures for each note; it was perfect.

The text on the front of the handout is:


To protect you from counterfeit notes, the following security features have been incorporated into the new Iraqi Dinar.

There are six security features mentioned. One is:

Watermarks: A horse’s head can be seen faintly in the front background in the clear field area on the front left side of the note.

On 25 April 2010, U.S. Psychological Operations Soldiers in Nasiriyah, Iraq, taught a class on counterfeiting and methods for dealing with it the Iraqi Police of Dhi Qar Province. The class, which taught skills essential to maintaining Iraq's economic stability, was led by the Soldiers of the 3212 Tactical PSYOP Detachment. The class taught in general:

After Saddam Hussein's fall and the introduction of the new Dinar, counterfeiting dramatically decreased, but it is still a serious problem in the area. The first subject covered the possible effects of counterfeiting.

Introducing counterfeit money into an economy can be considered to be economic warfare. It will destabilize an economy, inflate prices, and reduce the value of the currency. Modern currency has a variety of security features, such as watermarks, metallic ink and holograms. When used individually, these features are not difficult to recreate, but when used in combination, they make the counterfeiting process nearly impossible.

Another major security feature is the composition of the paper itself. Most authentic currency is starch-based, while most counterfeit money is wood-based. In order to identify the chemical composition of questionable bills, special markers are used. When an authentic bill is marked, the line is barely visible. On the other hand, if the bill is a fake, then the line will turn dark. During the class, every officer was able to experiment with this procedure.

The store owner, the salesman and the everyday customer are on the front lines of this issue. The police can't be everywhere at once. These security features and markers don't really count for anything unless the public knows about them. The best way to combat counterfeit money is to stop it at its first signs of showing in the country.

Standard 3 x 6-inch leaflets were also printed that advertised the new currency. For instance, leaflet IZD-8603 depicted an Iraqi standing in a well-stocked market. The text is:

Citizens of Iraq, the 10,000 dinar note is a legal form of currency and will be accepted at all markets and banks.

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CPA G012

The CPA leaflets all seem to be government-building pieces. CPA G012 depicts a number of Iraqis at a warehouse. Supplies are piled up in front of them. The back is checkered so the enemy cannot place their propaganda on that side. The text is:

Cash Reward for Information

A ten thousand U.S. dollars reward will be given for verified information.

This reward will be given for any information about hostile activities against the Coalition forces or about the individuals who commit these activities.

At the bottom of the leaflet the Coalition has placed a website and telephone number to be called if the individual has information.

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Handout IZG8528g

Handout IZG8528g depicts American and Iraqi currency on the front and warns in part:

Counterfeiters of old and new Iraqi Dinar and American Dollars are endangering the recovering economy of Iraq.

The back of the handout depicts new and old Iraqi Dinar and the text:

This is a reminder that there are only 30 days left to exchange your old Iraqi Dinars for the new Dinars. Do not wait until the last moment, or you may not be able to exchange them in time.

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Along with the new Iraqi money and rules of order came a new government. Here the Coalition lays out a plan and explains to the Iraqis the timeline for all the changes that have occurred or are about to occur in their lives. The front of the leaflet lays out a mathematical chart that tells exactly when the changes will occur:

28 February 2004 – The Iraqi Governing Council agrees to transfer government law.

31 May 2004 - 18 Iraqi Governors will elect representatives of the Iraqi Transitional Council of Representatives.

20 June 2004 – The Iraqi interim Council of Representatives assumes full control; the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council will dissolve.

15 March 2005 - An elected Constitutional Committee will write the final Constitution.

21 December 2005 – The Transitional Government law will be replaced by a permanent Constitution.

31 December 2005 - National elections will be held on the basis of the new Constitution. The elected government will rule Iraq

On the back of the leaflet an Iraqi family and city is depicted and the exact same timeline and text, but now not in a mathematical way, but in a friendly more family oriented way.

They work for change for you and for a better future for Iraq. Support the Iraqi Security Forces by reporting any criminal activities.

The 10th PSYOP Battalion in 2007

Each year different PSYOP units were deployed to Iraq to keep up the propaganda fight. In 2007, Colonel Wayne Tasler was in Command of the 10th PSYOP Battalion when they got the duty. He was kind enough to send a few of the leaflets his people prepared.

Hand by hand...

This leaflet was prepared to gather support and loyalty to the new Iraqi Security forces. The image and text on the front and back are identical. The text is:

The personnel of the Iraqi Security Forces are risking their lives daily to protect this great country.

Hand by hand for a better tomorrow.

Defenders of Freedom

This leaflet seems to be for the same general purpose. Once again, this leaflet has the theme of supporting and trusting the Iraqi Security Forces. There are pictures of the ISF in action on both sides of the leaflet. The text is:

The place which can provide you with the help you need. Call the Government Command Center.

The success of the Iraqi Security Forces is growing everywhere. The defenders of freedom are ready for the security needs of your area.

Your reports about suspicious activities lead to the arrests of the spoilers and criminals. Your reports about suspicious activities make a great difference. They are working for you and your children’s future.

Keep reporting the activities of the criminals to the Government Command Center.

The text on the back is:

Defenders of Freedom

They work for change for you and for a better future for Iraq. Support the Iraqi Security Forces by reporting any criminal activities.

One Iraq, United and Strong

This poster depicts scenes of a happy Iraq under a new more democratic regime. The text is:

One Iraq, United and Strong

Newspaper Propaganda

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Soldier disseminates Baghdad Now newspaper

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Baghdad Now newspaper

The 315th PSYOP Company published the biweekly newspaper Baghdad Now. It provided both Coalition and Iraqi news in Arabic and English. Some Iraqi teachers used Baghdad Now in their English classes. In January 2004, the company published its first issue of Baghdad Kids, a comic strip offshoot of Baghdad Now aimed at the city’s youth. Distributed free of charge by the Tactical PSYOP Teams, these newspapers gave the teams an additional way to interact positively with the citizens of Baghdad.

Baghdad Now tells residents about current events, provides news about their neighborhoods, and the latest information from military and community leaders. It is written in Arabic and English by Iraqi journalists. The paper highlights the accomplishments of coalition and Iraqi community members in the rebuilding of the country. The aim of the newspaper is to inform the Iraqi people of the coalition forces’ intentions. Baghdad Now has a circulation of more than 750,000 copies.

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Specialist Jared Krumm from the 318th Tactical PSYOP Company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, gives a local store owner a stack of Baghdad Now newspapers during a patrol in the southwest Rashid area of western Baghdad, Iraq on 25 May 2007.

The Peace newspaper is published by JTF-180 and contains Coalition news and command information. It is published bi-monthly. Al-Iraq (al-Yoom) is produced by JTF-7 and contains local Baghdad news and command information. It is published three times a week.

American Companies Join the War on Terror

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Kwikpoint Iraqi Visual Language Survival Guide

Although this article is about the “official” PSYOP and paper products produced by military units, it is clear that many products that were once printed by military sources, such as “pointee-talkie” cards, are now being produced by private companies. For instance, Gaia Communications of Arlington, Virginia, has prepared a number of handy cards for use in Iraq and Afghanistan that are as good as or better than anything prepared by the military to this point. The cards are highly colorful, sturdily made, fold out, and contain a wealth of information that is valuable to Allied troops. The products, sold under the name Kwikpoint, consists of such items as an Iraqi Visual Language Survival Guide, a Military Police VLT and an Iraq Culture Smart Card. The Marine Corps Intelligence Activity has distributed thousands of Iraq Culture Smart Cards to American serviceman in Iraq. The 16-panel, folded card includes information on religion, religious holidays, clothes and gestures, ethnic groups, cultural groups, customs, and history, social structure, and understanding Arabic names.

Kwikpoint, users have forwarded positive testimonials:

We are in the middle of Baghdad and the Kwikpoint Iraqi Visual Language Survivor Guide cards are incredibly helpful and good. They are a hot commodity. We’d like to give some to the hospitals to interface with them. The text is also helpful-our Iraqi translator says any Iraqi can understand it. CPT Arosemena, 1st Armored-2nd Brigade

In Iraq, our unit had the Kwikpoint Iraqi Visual Language Survival Guide on patrols. Using the card helped us find weapons caches by determining if information Iraqis brought to us was good enough to take it up the chain of command. Iraqis kept trying to come and tell us who was shooting at us I would have them draw pictures after showing them how Kwikpoint pictures communicate. I also used it in conjunction with a map to point things out. SGT Darin Dowdy, 3rd Infantry Division.

We, the Army/Navy Science Advisors, USASOC and Defense Language Institute have distributed around 10,000 to date. Everyone wants more, principally, the 18th Corps and Marine Expeditionary Force’s and the 30th MED from V Corps has some number as well. They are in use in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. John Grills, Deputy Director, AMC Fast.

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Sledgehammer Standards Card

3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team - 3rd Infantry Division

Of course, this is not to imply that military units have not continued to make pointee-talkie cards to help the troops to converse with Iraqis. The above folded card from the 3rd Infantry Division gives the troops standards, leadership tips, fighting principals, inspirational leader quotes and ends with basic Iraqi phrases.

Rumor as a Form of Propaganda

Bill Putnam mentions the power of rumors in Iraq while discussing his Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Cell’s meetings on the theme “What’s the Word on the Streets of Baghdad?” in 2003:

Iraqis receive their primary information through street rumors and gossip and then spread their newfound knowledge through word of mouth. One claimed the Coalition would lie about U.S. casualties and throw soldiers’ bodies into Iraq’s lakes and rivers in order to hide the true number of deaths from the American public. Another was that Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay were really alive and under U.S. protection in the Bahamas. Saddam was really in U.S. custody and had been working with the Americans for some time, Israel and the U.S. were going to bring Jewish settlers into Iraq to colonize it, and the electricity shortages were being deliberately done by the U.S. to punish the Iraqis. After every major car bomb attack, rumors would arise that the bombing wasn’t actually a bombing, but rather a carefully planned air strike by U.S. jets or helicopters. A popular rumor that was brought up in every session was that the Zionists were controlling America in order to conquer Iraq.

Putnam says that American military leaders generally considered these rumors foolish and seldom reacted to them. The N.Y. Times mentioned the operation in an article entitled “Baghdad Mosquito.”

The Mosquito began last fall after American military leaders realized that rumors themselves had become a security problem…Under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi state became an industry of untruth, where rumors often consigned people to the torture chambers, and propaganda was presented as fact.

Seven days a week, a staff of Iraqis and Americans compile and analyze local press and satellite television reports. And once a week, in what has become required reading for senior American officials in Baghdad and a devoted readership in Washington, The Mosquito produces an exclusive collection of rumor, gossip and chatter called, "What's the Word on the Streets of Baghdad?"

Brigadier General Mark P. Hertling, assistant commander of the First Armored Division, which is responsible for the security of Baghdad and central Iraq said that The Mosquito's reports helped the division fine-tune advertisements, posters and billboards that focus on new Iraqi security forces. “The feedback we received from The Mosquito was especially helpful in our design of a campaign countering the belief that all Iraqi police officers are corrupt and work contrary to the service of the citizens.”

Postwar Iraqi Propaganda

Although the official "shooting War" is over in Iraq, the Iraqi insurgents continue to produce propaganda. With the uprising in Fallujah in April, 2004, the insurgents called for all Iraqis to take up arms against the Americans, and convoys of food and medical supplies were sent to the besieged city by both Sunni and Shi'ite groups.

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Yellow ribbon

The enemy has learned to use images to attack the American presence in Iraq. The two we show here were both featured on Iraqi insurgent television. In the first picture the insurgents mock the practice of using a yellow ribbon to welcome troops home. The yellow ribbon is on a casket bearing a dead American soldier.

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Killing Iraqis

This powerful image of Iraqi dead was first used by an American anti-war organization. The Iraqis immediately added it to their own anti-war and anti-American propaganda broadcasts.

According to an Andrew Garfield article entitled “The U.S. Counter-propaganda Failure in Iraq” in Middle East Quarterly, fall 2007:

The insurgents, terrorists, and militiamen are proficient in high technology messaging. They use SMS text messaging and Iraq's telephone system to intimidate Iraqis and even coalition members. They produce CDs and DVDs, which they distribute widely within communities that U.S. forces and the Iraqi government also seek to influence. To show their prowess, the insurgents often distribute sophisticated videos of an attack on coalition troops within hours of the operation.

The insurgents, terrorists, and militiamen are adept at the art of manipulation. They need not rely only upon their own terrestrial and satellite stations but can also use foreign journalists and media outlets to ensure that their messages and actions are conveyed to the widest possible audience. By providing Western journalists with access to insurgent leaders and bomb makers, they ensure their message reaches the U.S. and British heartland. They know that videos of atrocities and statements sent to Arabic satellite stations such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya will often be rebroadcast, at least in part, by Western televisions stations such as CNN or the BBC.

Messaging can be diverse. Insurgents and militiamen also utilize the arts, including paintings, poetry, and songwriting, and post flyers, distribute leaflets, author articles, and even publish their own newspapers and magazines…Perhaps the insurgents' and militias' most important tool, though, is the Internet. It provides not only a mass audience but also enables a quick response to Iraqi government and coalition arguments. Both the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance and Ansar al-Sunna, two of the largest and most deadly Sunni insurgent or terrorist groups, for example, maintain websites

The Battles for Fallujah and Najaf

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PSYOP Gunner

U.S. Army CPL Joseph Yurisich of the 9th PSYOP Battalion mans a machine gun at a checkpoint outside Fallujah, 20 April 2004.

In the spring of 2004 the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Najaf became the scene of major confrontation between the Coalition occupying forces and Muslim insurgents.

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On 24 March, the US First Marine Division assumed responsibility for Fallujah from the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division. The city had been one of the centers of opposition and armed resistance to the US. The Marines immediately attempted to assert their control by assigning two battalions to control access to the city.

USMC Major Andy Dietz was interviewed about operations in Fallujah. He said in part:

Since we couldn’t go into the city proper, we utilized a lot of leaflet drops over the city. We did things such as tell them how much money had been allocated for Fallujah for reconstruction and why that money wasn’t coming – and we’d do it sequentially. First week, “We would have already been spending X-million number of dollars to repair your city with these projects and now we can’t.” The next drop would up the ante on what projects weren’t getting done, the money, so we kept doing that. Other methods we used were radio messages, some of which were generic to the Al Anbar Province, but a lot of them were targeted to the people in Fallujah. We would do loudspeaker broadcasts from the periphery of the city, especially on Fridays doing counter-mosque messages. And then the last thing, we would pass out handbills in places we knew people were transiting into the city. We couldn’t go into the city itself, but we knew if we gave these handbills in certain spots they were going to wind up in the city, and that’s what we wanted to happen as well.

I think the leaflet drops were rather effective. In terms of measures of effectiveness, I don’t think we can argue with the illumination rounds and the sonic booms; those things would be what tipped the scales. It’s something we always wrestled with: getting measures of effectiveness from radio broadcasts was very difficult. You just can’t simply talk to people. There were rumors that nobody during the day would be caught listening to one of our radio stations in public. So we would usually run most of our public service announcements as well as our radio messages at night when people would be inside their houses and had the freedom to listen to the radio.

As early as January 2003 Guerillas in Fallujah were seen handing out leaflets to locals detailing a plan to take over Iraqi cities once US-led coalition troops leave. The leaflet said the United States was preparing to withdraw its "defeated forces from Iraq" and sought to "clarify the agenda of the Mujahadeen for the period following the withdrawal of the occupant." It said the guerillas would control the entries to cities to be evacuated by the occupation forces, adding that a total curfew would be imposed during the first three days following their withdrawal. The guerillas will "kill mercilessly anyone seen looting", and will "arrest the (US) agents. Therefore, we advise them to leave Iraq." The leaflet added that local councils made up of people who have not cooperated with the occupation authority would head up a transitional administration until general elections can be held. The leaflets were distributed by men with their faces covered by traditional keffiehs, or headscarves.

On 28 March the Marines distributed Arabic leaflets in Fallujah that read: "No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice." The image on the leaflet depicted two steely green eyes.

This leaflet would appear to be Task Force 20 leaflet IZG-7525 mentioned previously in this article.

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Avenge murder of Hamas leader leaflet

On 31 March Iraqi crowds hacked apart and lynched the bodies of four American civilian contractors killed in two ambushed vehicles. Jubilant crowds gathered around the burning vehicles, cheering and dancing. One body was pulled from the wreckage and dismembered. Bodies and body parts were filmed hanging from a telephone pole and a bridge over the Euphrates River. Men in the crowd chanted "Viva the mujahadeen," "Down with the occupation," "Long live the resistance," and "Down with America."

A leaflet distributed in Fallujah by a previously unknown group of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin claimed responsibility for the gruesome killing of the four US contractors, saying it was to avenge the recent assassination of Palestinian Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by Israel. The text is, "This is a gift from the people of Fallujah to the people of Palestine and the family of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin who was assassinated by the criminal Zionists." It continued, "We advise the US forces to withdraw from Iraq and we advise the families of the American soldiers and the contractors not to come to Iraq." It said the "blind violence" of Fallujah residents was in response to the "US aggression, raids on mosques and homes, the arrests, the torture of clerics and the terrorizing of women and children."

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Cemetery of Americans leaflet

Another insurgent leaflet featuring a skull and crossed bones had Arabic and English text. The English text is, "Fallujah, the cemetery of the Americans."

As a result of the violence on 4 April 2004, hundreds of marines with tanks and armored vehicles deployed into the city in force as part of Operation Vigilant Resolve. The major roads in and out of Fallujah were blockaded by US tanks and Marines carried out house-to-house searches for insurgents.

On 6 April Iraqi police in the city visited local mosques and distributed U.S. military leaflets in Arabic telling residents that there was a daily 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew. They ordered them not to congregate in groups or carry weapons, even if they were licensed. They instructed people that if US forces enter their homes, they should gather in one room and, if they want to talk to the troops, to have their hands up.

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US PSYOP forces used loud speakers to warn residents to stay indoors.

Outside the city, hundreds of US and Iraqi troops in tanks, trucks and other vehicles waited for the order to launch the operation, code-named "Vigilant Resolve."

One pro-insurgent leaflet that appeared about 15 April said:

To our people of Baghdad. Please do not leave your houses. Do not go to schools, colleges, offices or markets. Close all commercial shops from 15 April to 23 April 2004. Your brothers of the mujahadeen from Ramadi, Khaldiya and Fallujah will bring the resistance to the capital of Baghdad, to help their brothers the mujahadeen from the al-Mahdi Army to liberate you from the occupation. You have been warned.

(Signed) Your Brothers the Mujahadeen companies From God, victory and success.

Threatening leaflets similar to these were distributed in Baghdad last fall, causing a three-day slow-down in the city when the majority of citizens followed its instructions.

There is a report of another leaflet that threatens President Bush. Another report claims that the al-Mahdi militia is spreading leaflets around sections of Baghdad instructing people to inform them of any westerners residing in their area.

There was some retaliation from the 4th PSYOP Group. We see there was mention that two former Al-Mahdi fighters claimed that they had become uncomfortable with the Al-Mahdi's actions in attacking and looting the radio station and police station in Karbala and had discarded their weapons and quit the group following the distribution of a leaflet on 14 April that criticized Muqtada Al-Sadr (Perhaps leaflet IZD-0982 depicted in this article). Thirteen other Jaysh Al-Mahdi fighters had followed suit.

One resistance group is using a videotape to recruit new members. It depicts ordinary Iraqis frustrated and humiliated by the occupation. The tape is described thusly:

The opening images are stark and brutal. Grainy, dark footage of US soldiers roughly grabbing and arresting Iraqis. There are shots of lines of men kneeling with bags over their heads and hands fixed behind them with the type of plastic strip that tightens when the victim struggles. That is common practice for US troops detaining security suspects in Iraq, but here on this recruitment tool for the Ansar Al Sunna army, one of Iraq's many resistance groups, the practice is displayed as an example of American brutality.

Produced in January, the video is a call to arms for those same humiliated Iraqis who are now joining the resistance in droves and bringing chaos to most of the country. After seeking to demonize the occupiers with news footage of detainees, the DVD then tells the faithful what they must do:

Jihad in Iraq has become a duty to every Muslim, now that the infidel enemy is roaming the land of Islam. Those who have raised the banner of holy jihad are the Sunna and Jamaah people..... They have mobilized in voluntary groups, each from their own locality.

The Associated Press reported on April 23 that U.S. troops were blasting AC/DC’s "Hell's Bells" and other rock music full volume from a huge speaker, hoping to grate on the nerves of enemy gunmen. At the same time, other PSYOP teams broadcast insults and ridicule such as: “You fight like women” and “your bullets tickle us like feathers” followed by laughter. Those Jihadists foolish enough to be drawn out into the open were immediately killed by Marine snipers.

On 28 April 2004, Operation Vigilant Resolve ended with an agreement that the local population would keep the insurgents out of the city. The Fallujah Brigade under the command of Muhammed Latif, a former Baathist general and composed of local Iraqis was set up by the U.S. forces to take over the city.

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Leaflet IZ-06-HB-5583

There was also a banknote propaganda leaflet used in Fallujah. We do not know if it was disseminated during the battle for Fallujah, but it was disseminated at some point in Fallujah and Ramadi as part of the anti-terrorist campaign. 3,000 copies of this U.S. leaflet, code number IZ-06-HB-5583 were distributed. The text on the back is:

To report terrorist activities call:

Ubaydi 619-929; Karabalah 652-499; Husaybah 653-077

By November 2004, Fallujah had become completely under the control on insurgent forces. American observer noted bobby traps and improvised explosive devices being laid, sniper positions being prepared, and insurgents conducting live-fire exercises in the city. On 8 November 2004, the U.S. Marines and Iraqi commandos entered the city under Operation Al-Fajr (“The Dawn’). This second battle for Fallujah ended in January and is considered one of the bloodiest battles in Iraq.


We should stop here just for a moment to study the use of music in psychological operations. Americans first saw it in the movie Apocalypse Now when U.S. attack helicopters approached a Viet Cong-controlled village playing “The Ride of the Valkyrie.”

During the Panama invasion, the world watched on television as U.S. PSYOP troops played loud music outside the Vatican nunciature where President Manuel Noriega hid. Some of the songs were: “I fought the Law and the Law Won,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “You're Messin' with a SOB,” “Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” and “Nowhere to Run.”

During the 2002 invasion of Afghanistan American troops played loud and aggressive music to frighten and intimidate the Taliban fighters. One of the songs played from a helicopter was: "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by the heavy metal band Drowning Pool.

Apparently the same sorts of tactics were used in Iraq. They are discussed by Peter J. Smyczek in “Regulating the battlefield of the future: the legal limitations on the conduct of psychological operations under public international law,” Air Force Law Review, winter 2005:

During the November 2004 battle of Fallujah, Marine Humvees with loudspeakers blasted the song “Back in Black,” by the heavy metal band AC/DC, during the fighting. There were also reports that the Americans “played the cavalry charge and loud sonar pings, along with the sounds of maniacal laughter and babies wailing.” Another tactic employed in the battle for Fallujah was disrupting the insurgent’s ability to rally their troops by playing high-pitched whines from loudspeakers whenever the insurgents issued their calls to arms over their own loudspeakers. These often ad hoc tactics are meant to frighten and disrupt the minds of the enemy and may be especially effective among certain cultures. For example, during interrogations of Iraqi fighters, American interrogators played the song "Enter Sandman" by the heavy metal group Metallica. The interrogators reported that this was an especially effective interrogation tool.

Unable to advance farther into the city, an Army psychological operations team attached to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted on a Humvee. Among the selections blasted was Jimi Hendrix.

They've also used the loudspeaker to shout insults at the enemy in Arabic, including "You shoot like a goatherd," in an effort to provoke them into attacking. Other messages included taunts like, "May all the ambulances in Fallujah have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen." The message was timed for an attack moments later by an AC-130 gunship that pounded targets in the city.

When the firing stopped, they played sound effects of babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches.

On 26 April U.S. aircraft on dropped leaflets on Fallujah, calling on insurgents to surrender. The Arabic text said:

Surrender. You are surrounded. If you are a terrorist, beware, because your last day was yesterday. If you want to live, cease your resistance and surrender to coalition forces now. We are coming to arrest you.

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Reward for heads leaflet

On April 27 as AC-130 gunships fired on Fallujah and the USAF dropped 10 laser-guided bombs on the besieged city, insurgents retaliated in Fallujah by distributing a poster advertising a purported reward of $15 million United States dollars for the heads of either U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, coalition forces commander Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez or military spokesman Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. The text was in Arabic and rather poor English:

15,000,000 as a reward who brings one of these three heads. Contact: Islamic Resistance Office in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the NY Times reported that members of Saddam Hussein's secret service had planned the Fallujah insurrection before the fall of the Ba'athist regime.

In an interview, Reporter Ray Perry imbedded with the Marines in Fallujah mentioned warning leaflets dropped before Coalition forces fired on a mosque:

It's a regrettable thing, and the Marines had been warning, warning, warning through leaflets, through public address system announcements, that at some point they would have to fire on that minaret because it was no longer a house of worship, but it was a strategic military site that was trying to murder American troops. And they did. And it's a very difficult thing and it's very culturally sensitive, of course. The Marines have tried to avoid it, but at some point you can't. It's being used to pin down and try to kill your troops.

What may turn out to be the first stage of the battle for Fallujah ended peacefully on 1 May when the American government brought back Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Salih of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard and about 1,100 former soldiers from the Fallujah area to restore order and maintain checkpoints inside of the city as part of the "Fallujah Protective Army." The Iraqi forces, clad in red berets, raised their own flag over a checkpoint as they replaced U.S. Marines. The Marines continue to be on station nearby, ready to react if the Iraqi force is unable to restore order.

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Wanted Poster of Ezzat Ibrahim

A wanted poster of Ezzat Ibrahim al-Duri, offering 10 million dollars for his capture. US troops detained a bodyguard and nine relatives of Duri, who was a top aide to ousted Iraqi president Saddam and is still on the run, a family member said.

After a period of relative quiet, American forces moved against insurgents in Fallujah once again on 14 October 2004. The tone was set when loudspeakers began to broadcast PSYOP messages and warnings to the insurgents from just outside the city, American jets then dropped 11 laser-guided 500-pound bombs on suspected terrorist safe houses, meeting places, and weapons depots. Low-flying F-16 fighters thundered through the sky day and night as a form of intimidation. At the same time, 1,600 American Marines moved forward under an artillery umbrella to set up hundreds of checkpoints designed to catch insurgents trying to escape from the city. The air raids were aimed at the terrorist network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant believed to be responsible for the killing of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. The American PSYOP messages warned the citizens of Fallujah to throw out the foreign terrorists or risk a major bombardment and attack. British troops in Iraq were requested to deploy near Fallujah. On 18 October it was reported that al-Zarqawi had sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.

By 5 November United States Marines surrounding Fallujah were ready to enter the city and destroy the insurgents hiding there. There were early reports of 5000 to 7000 Muslim fighters in the city, although later rumors claimed that as many as half that number had escaped. U.S. air and artillery strikes hit Fallujah late in the day after troops, using leaflets and loudspeakers, urged Iraqi citizens to help them capture terrorists and urged women and children to leave the Sunni Muslim city. U.S. troops sealed all roads to Fallujah and urged non-combatants to leave, but said they would arrest any man under 45 trying to enter or leave the city. Marine Corps Colonel Michael Shupp told reporters, "We are making last preparations for an attack. It will be soon. We are just awaiting orders from Prime Minister Allawi."

On 6 November, military aircraft dropped leaflets saying that the last open road out of Fallujah would be closed Sunday afternoon.

As American Marines readied for the attack on Fallujah, 850 members of the British Black Watch Regiment moved into Camp Dogwood, 20 miles south west of Baghdad in northern Babil province as part of Operation Bracken. The movement of the British military into the area allowed the Marines to concentrate their forces for the attack on Fallujah. The Black Watch was deployed in late October with the mission of blocking the entrance to and escapes of guerrilla fighters from Fallujah, enforcing law and order, and gathering intelligence. As part of their campaign to win the “hearts and Minds” of the local citizens, the Scotch soldiers have handed out thousands of leaflets.

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British leaflet H086

One full-color leaflet depicts a photograph taken in Basra earlier this year of an Iraqi boy and girl looking at the wristband of Black Watch Captain Tim Petransky. The captain told me:

The little boy and girl in the picture wanted the Watch Strap which was in our Regimental Colors.   The Little Girl was in the process of trying to relieve me of it when the photo was taken.  As I had no other she was disappointed.

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A Basra photograph of Black Watch member holding leaflet H086.

Psywar historian Lee Richards adds:

The Scottish tartan was emphasized on the borders of the leaflets to distance the Black Watch from the US troops by giving the message that the Scottish was very similar to the Arabs in that they lived in a clan type society.

Petransky agrees:

The Posters and leaflets that we used during Operation Bracken  were designed to identify us as different to U.S. troops in the area of operations, in an attempt to give us a clean slate, and to try and forge a link between Arab Society and Scottish Society which is very Clannish in nature.  Whether this worked or not I am not sure, I suspect that the short nature of our tour made it very difficult for a PYSOP campaign to work to its full potential. My belief is that PYSOP is a very valuable tool but it is one that that has most value of the long term.     

The Arabic-language message on the back is:

Peace be upon you.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Scottish soldier of the Black Watch Regiment. I have been sent to your area at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government in order to support the Iraqi Police Service in bringing peace and stability to your area. We understand that many of you will have never met a Scotsman before, but the same is not true of the soldiers of my Regiment. This is the second time we have been in Iraq since the operation to remove Saddam Hussein last year. We have already spent many months working in the south of your country and have made many friends among the Iraqi people. We have all benefited from a mutual respect of each other’s cultures.

There will be those who will continue to call us “occupiers” and encourage you to reject our presence. I ask you to give us an opportunity to prove that we are sincere in our statements that we respect the Iraqi culture and I think you will be surprised how quickly we gain each others trust. We ask you to ignore those who would reject our presence. Give us a chance to offer you the peace you deserve. What have they ever done for you but take away your sons and bring sadness and despair to your area? These foreigners and criminals exploit the honorable people of Iraq by keeping her weak, while using Iraq’s sons to do their fighting.

We understand that times have been difficult for the people of your area and we cannot promise to change things overnight. However, you have our soldier’s pledge that we will do our best to provide you with the security that is required before reconstruction can begin. We have a genuine opportunity for peace now that Scottish soldiers are operating in your area. I look forward to working together with the people of Babil.

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H089 (1)

 A second leaflet coded H089 depicts a Black Watch soldier in full battledress in front of a Scottish flag. The text on the front is:

This is a very important publication from The Black Watch. Please read the message on the back. Thank you for your cooperation.

The back is all text:

Soldiers of the Black Watch will not hesitate to shoot anyone to protect their lives.

Always be careful when approaching a Black Watch soldier. Any suspicious or violent actions will lead to the use of deadly force.

We want you to go about your normal life as usual. When the situation in the area is safer, we will decrease the strict safety measures we are imposing at the time being.

Please do as you are asked and follow the instructions at all checkpoints or when in the presence of Black Watch soldiers in your area. You refusal to obey may result in the death or yourself or your family.

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H089 (2)

A third leaflet pictures a British tank in front of the Scottish Flag. Curiously, it is also coded H089, but has a longer message on the back.

The text on the front is the same on both leaflets. The text on the back is:

In the past few days the Black Watch was attacked by foreign insurgents and terrorists. The Black Watch is helping the people of North Babylon in resuming their usual daily lives. We are left with no option but to increase the security levels for the general welfare of the people.

It is very important that you adhere to the following instructions when approaching a Black Watch vehicle or checkpoint.

  1. When approaching the Black Watch, turn on the side lights of your vehicle and be ready to stand if you are asked to do so. You may receive your instructions vocally, with a sign or by gesture of hand.
  2. Do the above calmly and always keep your hands visible.
  3. If you are asked to pass through, do so quietly.

The instructions above are extremely important because the foreign insurgents and terrorists are trying to halt and disturb our lives by their violent actions.

A Safety Leaflet

When I first saw this leaflet, I thought the British must be leaving Iraq because it reminded me of all the leaflets the Russians did when they retreated from Afghanistan and tried to imply the people loved them by placing flowers in their rifles. In fact, The British were not leaving, they were simply warning the people to stay on the sidewalks and not to get in the streets when they went by with their trucks. The text is:

We're happy to see you.

Don't stop waving to us, but wave to us while you're on the side of the road.

In what appears to have been a deception operation, a Marine spokesman stated on 14 October that U.S. troops have crossed the line of departure" into Fallujah. CNN immediately broadcast that the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah had begun. It appears that the announcement was part of an operation to determine how guerrillas would react if they believed U.S. troops were entering the city. The information was used when the United States did attack the Insurgent-controlled city on 8 November.

The long-awaited battle for Fallujah was launched by 10,000 U. S. Marines and Army troops and 2000 members of the new Iraqi Army on 8 November under the name “Operation Phantom Fury.” The three week battle to take the city resulted in the death of 135 American troops.

At the end of November, as American troops completed their clearing operations in Fallujah, leaflets were discovered in the courtyard of an Iraqi Islamic Party building that had been turned into a modern hospital by the insurgents. The leaflets said in part:

To stop American tanks, you must trust your religion. Keep away from people who work for the American forces. Keep praying. Count all the American tanks you see and report to us.

The inside of the building featured walls covered by anti-American posters. They depicted crying Iraqi women and children, who had been wounded by evil Americans.

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Children hold up flyers they received from Iraqi soldiers during a leaflet mission in Basra, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Karah Cohen)

An example of the breakdown of enemy troops killed in Fallujah appears in Anthony H. Cordesman’s Iraq and Foreign Volunteers, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2005:

The national origin of 154 insurgents killed in the fighting after the battle of Fallujah and through March 2005 indicates that 94 (61%) were Saudi, 16 (10.4%) were Syrian, 13% (8.4%) were Iraqi, 11 (7.1%) were Kuwaiti, 4 came from Jordan, 3 from Lebanon, 2 from Libya, 2 from Algeria, 2 from Morocco, 2 from Yemen, 2 from Tunisia, 1 from Palestine, 1 from Dubai, and one from the Sudan. 33 of the 154 were killed in suicide attacks: 23 Saudis, 5 Syrian, 2 Kuwaiti, 1 Libyan, 1 Iraqi, and 1 Moroccan…These illustrate the diversity of backgrounds.

Since we have mentioned enemy troops, perhaps we should take a moment to mention the number of troops the various English speaking allies sent to Iraq. Great Britain deployed 85,000 troops and Australia sent 15,000 troops between 2003 and 2007.

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Italian PSYOP

Besides the British, a number of other Coalition nations have produced propaganda leaflets, posters and magazines. For instance, the Italian contingent deployed a PSYOP Battalion to Iraq. Few Italian PSYOP products have been depicted in the press. However, a full-color fully-illustrated calendar in both English and Arabic that quotes the new Iraqi Constitution on the cover was featured in the Volume 17, No. 2, 2006 issue of Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association. There was also a brief introduction by Lieutenant Colonel Nico Caiazza, Commander of the 1st Italian PSYOP Battalion. He says in part:

Our campaigns are effective if they are well integrated in all branches. We are effective if we are credible and coherent both in our messages and acts on the ground…Anger and frustration does not have to rule our hearts and minds in making decisions. Angry actions most of the time are revealed as wrongful vengeance against a people who are already the victims of violence.


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Polish PSYOP Loudspeaker Team

On the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 1441, 678 and 687, Poland, as a member of the US-led “coalition of the willing”, participated in Operation “Iraqi Freedom” aimed at ousting the regime of Saddam Hussein. After the end of major combat operations in April 2003, Poland agreed to the US request to help stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

Not much has been written about the Polish PSYOP troops in Iraqi Freedom. Some data has been collected from various Polish magazine and newspaper articles.

The PSYOP Unit’s name is Centralna Grupa Dzialan Psychologicznych Dowodztwa Wojsk Ladowych – The Central Group of Psychological Actions of Land Forces Command. It is headquartered in Bydgoszcz and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Witold Klinger, a 20-year veteran of electronic reconnaissance. The unit was formed on 1 January 2002. Its symbol is a black spider. There are about 110 male troops and one female warrant officer. The average age of the members is 32. The PSYOP unit is present wherever the Polish Army Wojsko Polskie is active. It is fully professional and all volunteer and with no conscripted soldiers. Candidates are required to be fluent in at least one foreign language. Psychology and Sociology college graduates are preferred as are specialists in electronics, information sciences and telecommunications. At least 10 members of the unit are airborne qualified under the command of Warrant Officer Tomasz Stryjal, a world champion in night accuracy parachute jumping. They deploy with parachute units. The unit cooperates closely with PSYOP units from the US and Germany. Among the sections are one that deals with Polish-language information (radio and TV), a second that deals with English-language information, A third that studies the regions where the unit deploys and a fourth that gathers information on Eastern Europe.

It is believed that about 18 Polish PSYOP soldiers deployed to Iraq along with at least two loudspeaker cars called Rozglosnia Elektroakustyczna. There is some evidence that many of the leaflets were prepared in Poland with the help of an Arab intellectual with a background in philosophy and psychology. In the four military district levels in Poland there are PSYOP Groups called Grupa Dzialan Psychologicznych. At division level there are Special propaganda Sections called Sekcja Propagandy Specjalnej. At the battalion level there are tactical squads called Taktyczny Zespol Dzialan Psychologicznych. However, it is unlikely that each battalion has a propaganda squad.

Special equipment: The force is equipped with a rocket launcher called a wyrzutnia rakietowych pocisków ulotkowych FLG 5000A4. It fires a 116mm rocket with a range of 5.2 kilometers. Each rocket can carry 3400 leaflets in A6 format (105 x 148mm). The Polish leaflets are apparently about 4 1/4 x 5 3/4 inches, while US leaflets are generally about 3 x 6 inches. There is also a Pioneer UAZ 452 military vehicle produced in the 1970s and 1980s by the Signal Corps workshops in Czernica that is equipped with a 600 watt loudspeaker with a theoretical range of 3 kilometers.

More recently the troops were equipped with an RP-1 man-pack loudspeaker that has a range of about 400 meters and is called a Rozglosnia Plecakowa. They have updated vehicles like the REA Perkun, a 4-wheel-drive van that can be equipped with a 400 or 800 watt loudspeaker with a range of about 2.5 kilometers. They also have a mobile field offset printing press that is carried on two trucks, the Star 660M2E2 or Star 266. They are equipped with a Russian-made special leaflet bomb that can carry 36,000 leaflets in A6 format. They also have leaflet mortar and howitzer rounds in storage but have yet to use that method of dissemination.

The Polish Ministry of Defense said in regard to PSYOP used during a massive war game called Anaconda:

History tells us that we can hit both the enemy body and psyche...During maneuvers, PSYOP elements are at every level of the most important units and military headquarters. The Group supported its units with equipment and a training team to print a newspaper. In addition, the men were tested during training and while they took part in maneuvers. There was the use of PSYOP FLG rockets against enemy elements. Those rockets can carry a leaflet package for 5 kilometers. We also operated tactical squads which broadcast propaganda radio messages.

Night Drop

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Caption: Air Force loadmasters with the 40th Expeditionary Airlift
Squadron disseminate “wanted” leaflets from a C-130 over Iraq.

The Polish PSYOP Contingent in Multinational Division Center-South made the news in December 2007 when they took part in the dropping of more than 1 million leaflets by C-130 Hercules of the 40th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron over 10 designated drop zones in Iraq.

The “wanted poster” leaflets urged local citizens to provide information on three top leaders of an armed insurgent militia. They asked local citizens not to harbor the three wanted individuals, who are wanted for using improvised explosive devices and sniper attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. Within hours of the drop, reports were received of civilians arriving at Iraqi police stations with leaflets in hand. Iraqi citizens also called the tip lines with information about explosive devices and suspected local militia members.


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Leaflet IZD-0982

This leaflet depicts Moqtada al-Sadr on the front and a scene of the Najaf Iman Ali Shrine on the back. The text on the front is:

Moqtada is a Nobody!

He is just a coward and cutthroat as he carries out these shameful actions to achieve his personal aims; he does not possess anything good to offer to Iraq or the world.

He carries out these actions without personal restraint and without any authorization from a legitimate authority.

From where does this coward get his authority?

Text on the back is:

The criminal Moqtada is unlawfully using the sacred places and hiding weapons and terrorists inside them.

He has no respect for the holiness of these sites or the people of Najaf.

Return the Imam Ali shrine to the Hawza.

Note: The term “Hawza” refers to the traditional Shia study of Islam, very different from al-Sadr’s Muslim radicalism.

In the southern Shi'ite city of Najaf, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and thousands of his supporters fortified themselves near the Iman Ali Shrine, the holiest site of Shia Islam.

Najaf was placed under siege by an American force of about 2,500 men armed with tanks; Stryker armored fighting vehicles and artillery, backed by helicopter gunships and fighter-bombers.

American and coalition troops manned checkpoints blocking all the main roads into the city. Leaflets were distributed denouncing Sadr for the murder of a moderate Shia cleric at a Najaf mosque in April 2003.

On 29 April the supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were reported to be distributing leaflets to occupation-funded Iraqi police and army recruits.

The Americans have now shown themselves to be the enemies of all Iraqis. To serve the US interests is to act as a traitor to your homeland.

As of that date the death count for Iraqi police and military serving alongside US-led troops is over 400 with another 1500 wounded.

This short PSYOP film is called The Truth about Najaf.

The Coalition decided that Moqtada al-Sadr and his private army were holding back true democracy in Iraq. They prepared a PSYOP film attacking him and his goons. A brief description of the movie follows:

It starts out with an introduction explaining that in August 2004, Moqtada and his band of thugs attacked police stations, killed innocent people, and took control of the holy Iman Ali Shrine. What you are about to see are eyewitness accounts of those witnesses in their own words. We then hear from the Governor of Najaf who says:

The city was secure and peaceful, and people were on the move day and night. Najaf is a tourist, religious, and commercial city Frequented by thousands of people every week. It was a quiet city.

He goes on to tell how wonderful the city was while we see happy children, civilians, and people on the streets. Then the music becomes more strident, and we see bloody bodies on the street. We are told that the militia broke into stores and stole everything. People that entered the shrine were kidnapped. The movie depicts Moqtada’s private army as criminals and terrorists.

By 1 May negotiations were taking place in the southern city of Najaf, where tribal leaders and police agreed to a three-day truce as part of a plan to resolve a standoff between soldiers and militiamen loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

On 5 May Coalition forces battled Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim militiamen loyal to rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Kerbala. Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to Sadr fired mortars, rockets and automatic weapons at U.S. and Bulgarian positions in the town. At least five militiamen were killed in similar clashes in Najaf earlier in the week.

The latest clash may have been in answer to calls by Shi'ite political leaders for Sadr to disarm. Sadr's political and religious rivals hoped to avoid further violence in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala and regain political power lost to the radical nationalistic cleric.

Witnesses said U.S. aircraft dropped Arabic-language leaflets urging militiamen to surrender. The Mehdi Army militia presently controls Najaf, Kufa and Kerbala and maintains a presence in Baghdad. Sadr has threatened to unleash suicide bombers if Coalition forces attack his stronghold in Najaf.

Meanwhile, building on the Arab disgust at the photos of American troops mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, graphic photos of U.S. servicemen raping and sexually abusing Iraqi women appeared on the Arabic websites Albasrah.net and a Tunisian website produced in France by the Committee for the Defense of Saddam Hussein. Investigation showed that they were actually taken from the American pornographic website "Iraq Babes," and the Hungarian site, "Sex in War." The webmaster claimed not to know that the photos were being used as anti-coalition propaganda.

In a move aimed at further isolating renegade cleric Moqtada Sadr, on May 8 U.S. planes dropped leaflets on the southern city of Najaf urging people to choose "a democratic and peaceful Iraq." "You can choose the way that leads to a new Iraq: A peaceful and democratic Iraq and an Iraq full of political freedoms and economic opportunities" said the Arabic-language leaflets. Iraqis were urged to put aside their ethnic and religious differences because doing so would lead them to a "brilliant future brimming with hope." The leaflet ends, "congratulations for a new Iraq and long live Iraq." The back of the leaflet reminded Iraqis that coalition troops will remain in Iraq to "work alongside Iraqi police and military forces to fight terrorists and to protect Iraqis and their families" and "this is the path to a shining future. The leaflet is meant to remind Iraqis that Coalition forces will still be present after the handover of sovereignty to an interim government on June 30.

On 10 May Coalition forces continued to clash with Sadr's forces in the southern cities of Najaf, Kufa, Karbala and Basra.

Qais al-Khazali, Sadr's main lieutenant said:

We have now entered a second phase of resistance, and our patience is over with the occupation forces. Our policy now is to extend the state of resistance and to move it to all of Iraq because of the occupiers' military escalation and crossing of all red lines in the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

As more moderate religious and political leaders called for Sadr to step down, leaflets were distributed in Najaf with photographs showing corpses and armed men. The leaflet text is:

To al-Sadr followers: If you continue fighting you will be killed in the end. You must be killed. It is your choice.

The back of the leaflet said:

There is a chance for the Iraqi people to live in peace. Just put your weapons aside and be happy with what your country has given to you.

It is believed that the leaflet was disseminated by a shadowy death squad calling itself the Thulfiqar Army. They have reportedly killed at least seven of Mr. Sadr's militiamen in Najaf.

On 14 May, U.S. troops once again clashed with fighters loyal to Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala. At least four Iraqis were killed and 13 wounded in overnight fighting. U.S. helicopters scattered leaflets urging Sadr to end his Mehdi Army's insurgency and turn himself over to authorities, who want him in connection with the murder of fellow cleric. Troops, who were positioned as close as one km (half a mile) from some of Kerbala's most sacred buildings, made loudspeaker announcements calling on people to stay out of the city center.

The revolt in Najaf finally ended on 27 August. Shia Followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani marched on the Holy Iman Ali Shrine and demanded that the rebel army of Muqtada al-Sadr leave the site. The doors of the shrine were shut and locked and the keys handed over to al-Sistani's officers. The shrine had been surrounded for days by troops of the new Iraqi Army and police, as well as U.S. forces. Iraqi police appeared to be in charge of Najaf, but U.S, forces remained in the area due to the fact that many of al-Sadr's followers are still armed and dangerous.

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This black and white leaflet was printed and disseminated during the consolidation campaign. Both sides of the leaflet are identical and depict a radio antenna at the center and radios at the right and left. Radio station information is found at the top and the center of the leaflet.

Medium Wave 756
Medium Wave 864
FM 91.5
Information Radio

Most of the information about current operations in your areas comes from the Coalition to the radio on one of the following every 24 hours:

 756 KHz
864 KHz
91.5 MHz

If you have any information about terrorist activities or violent acts report them at the following number:  427-232

Other consolidation leaflets also targeted specific cities and populations.  

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Al Ramadi

Leaflet handout IZG8750a depicts a masked terrorist holding a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on the front. The text is:

People of Al Ramadi

Help us to put in place peace and stability in Ramadi.

Call 427-232 to inform us of any information about the terrorists.

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The back of the leaflet depicts four terrorists with their hands on their heads behind barbed wire. The text is:

People of Al Ramadi

We know you are good people.  

We need your help so to arrest the criminals that fight the Coalition forces.

Inform the Iraqi police or Coalition forces with any information by calling 427-232.

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The front of this leaflet depicts a rocket system and the complete kit. The text is:


For identifying Anti-aircraft Shoulder-fired rockets

Identify Anti-aircraft Shoulder-fired rockets to Coalition Forces and receive a cash reward

The back of the leaflet depicts a soldier about to fire the rocket. The text is:

Reward for identifying anti-aircraft shoulder- fired systems

500 U.S. Dollars for the entire Missile system
250 U.S. Dollars for the trigger piece
250 U.S. Dollars for the Rocket carrier without the trigger piece.

Leaflet IZG8761

Leaflet IZG0812c

The 4th PSYOP Group was proud of their program to buy back these anti-aircraft weapons. They said in 2004:

1,583 MANPADS have been turned in to Coalition Forces. $489,150 has been disbursed (As of July 2004).

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An Nasiriyah

An uncoded handout has blue text on white paper. The message is in Arabic on the one side, English on the other. The text is:

To the Good People of An Nasiriyah

The Iraq Security Forces and Multi National Force are committed to protecting you and to helping you provide a prosperous future for your children.

The violent men who came here were endangering the lives of innocent people.

The violent men have no interest in a safe and prosperous Iraq. If they had your interests at heart they would not resort to violence and endanger your lives. 

Be assured that The Iraq Security Forces and Multi National Force are committed to defeating the violent men who would deny the people of An Nasiriyah the right to live in peace and freedom.


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Grafitti in Mosul - “Warning to all policemen: You will be killed.”

The Insurgents in the northern city of Mosul still resist the new Iraqi government. Militants, working mostly at night, paint threats against the Iraqi forces that will eventually take full control of the city after US forces leave. One spray-painted wall photographed in April 2005 bore the message, “Warning to all policemen: You will be killed.” Another Graffiti-laden wall says about the Jordanian-born terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, “Zarqawi is the prince!” The propaganda is also spread by word-of-mouth and rumors. Militants claim that candy given by American soldiers to children is poisoned, and that the confidential phone lines the Americans set up for informers are monitored by the insurgents and callers will be hunted down, found, punished, and killed. 

U.S. troops constantly inspect handbills and graffiti on walls, searching for insurgent messages. Colonel Robert B. Brown, of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division said, “In an insurgency, the fighters rely on anonymity. They swim in the population, which only needs to be neutral.” He noted heightened violence against US and Iraqi government forces starting in September of 2004 with insurgent attacks running at about 90 per week. The violence relented after the elections of 30 January 2005.

PSYOP is used to communicate with the local population. It attempts to turn them against the insurgents and persuade them to inform U.S. and Iraqi security forces about the placement of roadside bombs and other planned attacks.  

The PSYOP leaflets are prepared in a small building on an American base in Mosul. There are stacks of leaflets of all shapes and colors bearing various messages, all attempting to bring the people of Mosul to the side of the American and Iraqi security forces. Captain Corbin England, who helps coordinate the U.S. military's efforts in Mosul says:

PSYOP is a multiplier. We multiply the effectiveness of the troops on the ground, which saves lives. We are just one of the many cogs in a system that works. In an insurgency, the key is the local population. If you win them over, the other guy loses.  

A Helicopter Leaflet Mission

US forces drop leaflets from helicopters and hand them out on the streets. They encourage Iraqis to forward the material to their friends and family. They produce posters of Iraqi policemen in heroic poses in front of mosques. A PSYOP booklet recounts the tale of a young boy, Ahmed Hussein, who finds a magic ring and has premonitions of an unexploded mortar round on a soccer field. He tells police of his vision before his brother Ali, about to step onto the field, can be hurt by the ordnance. Matchbooks announce a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of al-Zarqawi, whose face is shown on the packet with the text:

This malicious vermin is the obstacle that stands between the Iraqi people and security.

The Rand Corporation 2015 Report: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Decisive War, Elusive Peace adds:

In addition to the leaflet drops from high-flying Air Force and Navy aircraft, leaflets were dropped from helicopters organic to the ground units. This method, known as "static line leaflet drops," provided the ground commander flexibility in the PSYOP campaign. The missions were not resource intensive, but they did require a permissive environment because of the low altitudes at which these aircraft had to fly.

PSYOP was centralized at the brigade level. Non-lethal effects were integrated into cordon and search operations. Specifically, tactical commanders found it extremely useful for loudspeaker teams to accompany the inter cordon as a method for informing the local population of what was going on and how to comply. Once the operation was completed the media was alerted and moved to the location to provide coverage of the event. Soldiers also used combat camera to document damages occurring during the raid to provide a method for reimbursement if no detentions were made.

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Leaflet IZD057672 was used around the city of Ba'quba. On 9 November 2004 militants stormed two police stations near the central Iraqi town of Ba'quba. The extremist Islamic Army in Iraq published a statement on its website calling on militants to attack some 20 targets in the country in reprisals for the U.S offensive on the rebel-held city of Al-Fallujah. The front of the leaflet depicts an American soldier (allegedly from the 4th Infantry Division) playing soccer with an Iraqi citizen. The text is:

Thanks to patriot citizens from Ba'quba. Your cooperation enabled the Joint Forces to capture the known criminals in your area.

The back of the leaflet depicts a large group of Iraqis and two American soldiers. The text is:

With your continuous support we can bring peace and prosperity to city of Ba'quba and Iraq.

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The Search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a 38-year old Jordanian radical accused of masterminding a string of spectacular suicide bombings in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations that al-Zarqawi was an associate of Osama Bin Laden. He is also alleged to have been involved in the beheading of an American contractor, Nick Berg. He is accused by Jordan of plotting attacks against US and Israeli targets, such as the assassination of U.S. aid official Laurence Foley in Amman in October 2002. The Spanish government accuses him of being behind the Madrid bombings on 11 March 2004, which killed 191 people. German security forces uncovered a militant cell which claimed al-Zarqawi was its leader. Shadi Abdellah, a Palestinian on trial for allegedly plotting to attack Berlin’s Jewish Museum and a Jewish-owned disco, testified he was working for al-Zarqawi. He said they met in Afghanistan. Moroccan government sources said a terrorist group blamed for bombings that killed 45 people in Casablanca got its orders from al-Zarqawi. In Turkey, officials said he was believed to have planned bombings that killed 63 at two synagogues, the British consulate and a British bank in Istanbul in November.

In Iraq he is thought to have been the mastermind of the assassination of the Shia cleric, Ayatollah al-Hakim in Najaf, where 50 Shia worshippers died. He is believed to be behind the bomb attacks on recruiting centers for the Iraqi security forces that killed over 100 people. He is suspected of carrying out a wave of attacks in late June that killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more in attacks in five Iraqi cities. The United States recently raised the reward for al-Zarqawi from 10 million to 25 million dollars.

The United States and its allies have been trying to capture or kill al-Zarqawi for years. He was bombed during U.S. operations in Afghanistan and lost a leg. He returned to Baghdad where he was apparently fitted with an artificial leg. U.S. forces came close again on June 25 when a suspected "safe house" in Fallujah was attacked by U.S. aircraft. A convoy of cars pulled up to the house just as the fighter-bombers began to drop 500-pound bombs. A man got out of a car as the bombs fell and was thrown to the ground by a blast. He was hurried back into the car and driven away. Al-Zarqawi is thought to be the only person who travels with such a large security detail. The strike killed 20 to 25 people, and the new Iraqi government later admitted that their intelligence was used to target the house. It was the third such U.S. air strike in a week. Safe houses in Fallujah linked to the al-Zarqawi network were hit earlier by U.S. forces, and about 38 people were killed.

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al-Zarqawi wanted poster

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al-Zarqawi reward matchbook

This matchbook depicts al-Zarqawi and gold coins on the front with the text:

Deliver us Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
We will pay you a reward

Three photos of al-Zarqawi in various disguises are on the back with the text:

Abu Musab al-Zarkawi
aka Abu Ahmed
or Abu Mohammed

The United States has mounted a propaganda and reward campaign again al-Zarqawi. His photograph appears on leaflets, posters and matchbooks. At the same time, anti-American and Arabic elements such as Aljazeera TV state that he is just the latest American "Bogeyman" and proclaim his innocence. It is difficult to determine who is telling the truth and who is spreading disinformation, but some terrorist groups claim that al-Zarqawi was killed months earlier by U.S. bombing in the Sulaimaniyah mountains of northern Iraq, and others claim that as a competitor of bin Laden for terrorist leadership he would never link with al-Qaida.

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Al Qaeda Reward Poster

A coalition poster shows the different images of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. The alleged mastermind of Al-Qaeda operations in Iraq is believed to be in the city of Fallujah, which is under US marine siege, a senior coalition spokesman said.

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Al-Zarqawi reward leaflet in color

U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets on Fallujah on 31 July 2004, depicting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in full color in several different disguises The leaflet text stated that that terrorists were using civilian houses as bases for their criminal acts. The large leaflet reads in Arabic:

Al-Zarqawi....he is only hurting your families, children, friends and innocent people by his terrorist acts. If you have any information about him or other terrorists call the numbers below and you might get a reward.

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Leaflet IZG-0824

A second leaflet was air dropped at the same time. This black and white one-sided handout coded IZG-0824 depicts al-Zarqawi in three different disguises and also offers a reward for information leading to his capture. The text is: 

10 Million Dollar Reward 

Abu Musab Zarqawi 

This man is responsible for killing innocent women and children

Baghdad: 7784076 - Outside Iraq: 964-1-7784076 - Outside Baghdad: 1-7784076         

An almost identical leaflet coded IZD0986 had the same pictures on the front with slightly changed text, and a longer text on the back in English and Arabic which said:

The bearer of this product has criminal information about wanted individuals pictured on the opposite side. Treat him/her with respect and report information immediately to your chain of command.

There is also a full-color version coded IZG8549a with an offer of ten million dollars reward on the front and text on the back. The text says in part: 

Reward 10,000,000 USD 

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

This man is responsible for murdering innocent women and children

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IZ G05-060

This leaflet attacks Zarqawi as a coward and was probably meant to force him to come out into the open and make himself a target. He is depicted on the front along with the text: 

Why is this the only picture you ever see of Zarqawi? 

The back is all text: 

Because Zarqawi is a coward! 

Bin Laden at least shows himself on TV and takes responsibility for his desecration of liberty. Zarqawi cowers away from the heat and avoids danger while his followers die in his place. What kind of leader is this?

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Leaflet IZB01awPS0824C

The search for al Zarqawi went on well into 2005. This handbill-leaflet was distributed in April 2005 and depicts photographs of the terrorist leader and Osama bin Laden and offers a 25 million dollar reward for each of them. The two photographs have been used on earlier leaflets and obviously the United States has found no more up-to-date images for use in psychological operations. The leaflet also lists five phone numbers that can be called to inform on the terrorist leaders.

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Poster ICZ8549

Poster IZC8549 is interesting because it was produced for the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division's and pictured their top five most wanted Iraqis. Although listed as number two, al-Zarqawi is centered with a reward of five million dollars. At his right, a wanted poster of Ezzat Ibrahim al-Duri with a ten million dollar reward. The other pictures are of (1) Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed (Ba’ath Party Leader), (4) Mumar Ahmad Yusif al-Jaghbir (Terrorist leader) and (5) Abd al-Baqi Abd al-Karim Abdullah al-Sadun (Ba’ath Military Bureau).

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Leaflet IZB1eG3-3095

The 1290th PSYOP Detachment also prepared leaflets to help in the hunt for al-Zarqawi. This leaflet, coded IZB1eG3-3095 is especially interesting because it depicts no less than 10 photographs of the terrorist leader in various disguises. The text is:

$25 Million USD reward for capture or information that will lead us to the capture of Zarqawi.

Zarqawi and his terrorist acts have killed many innocent Iraqis.

Call 07701648570 or send e-mail to tipstallafar@yahoo.com

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In 2006 a leaflet coded IZD05-7942 depicted the face of al-Zarqawi above what appears to be the flames of Hell. The text simply says:


The back of the leaflet depicted a long parade of 23 Iraqi coffins being carried to the cemetery. The text is:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has killed hundreds of Iraqis! And he claims that this is Jihad, but he carries out the killing of innocent Iraqis for his devilish purposes and not for a better Iraq.

An Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Poster

This poster depicts the terrorist and a burning automobile. Shadowy images stand at the left, perhaps the spirits of the occupants of the car? The soldier that sent the poster did not quite get all the text in the picture, but what we can see says:

This is Al-Zarqawi.

He wants to kill you and your children.

This is what Al-Zarqawi imposes on Iraq and on our children and loved ones in the present and future.

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Leaflet IZD05-0001

One of the more interesting Zarqawi leaflets is this standard 3x6-inch product showing Zarqawi in the center over an Iraqi cemetery with terrorists depicted at the left and right. The text over Zarqawi is:

Who will be next?

The back of the leaflet depicts two Iraqi women crying over a coffin. The symbolism of Zarqawi and dead bodies is very strong in this leaflet and it clearly implies that Zarqawi and death are intimately entwined. The text is:

On the 30th of June 2004, Zarqawi announced his responsibility for the killing of Iraqi children. After that, you still give support to him?

It is only a matter of time before his foolishness will kill your loved ones.

It is only a matter of time before his foolishness will kill your loved ones.

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Leaflet IZ C05-0026

The last Zarqawi leaflet we depict is interesting because it places the terrorist next to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Dead and tortured bodies appear in the foreground and background. The text is:

The devil has two faces, they are united.
Don't let the past of Afghanistan be your future.

Zarqawi is mentioned several times in Russell Snyder’s, Hearts and Mines – A Memoir of Psychological Warfare in Iraq, iUniverse, Bloomington, IN, 2011. Russell was a member of a three-man Tactical Psychological Operations Team (TPT) of the United States Army 9th PSYOP Battalion attached to the U.S. Marines in Iraq during the spring of 2005. On two occasions in 2005 he takes part in operations to catch Zarqawi in one of his safe houses.

In Ar Jaramil the Marines are very close and miss Zarqawi by minutes. Snyder broadcasts to the townspeople:

The terrorists and their foreign leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi care only for their own selfish desires. They kill children and dishonor your holy places. Whoever helps the terrorists harms Iraq…

In Husayba he encourages the Iraqis to fight against the terrorists and broadcasts by loudspeaker:

The Coalition forces respect the way you have stood up and defended your families honor by defeating the evil terrorists. They have killed innocent children, dishonored your holy places, and show disrespect to your families and your homes. It is no surprise that the terrorists have no respect because their leader, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi is a foreigner who cares nothing about Iraq except to use the innocent blood of Iraqis for his own selfish purposes. Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who is also known as Ahmed Fadhil Al Khalaylah, born in the city of Al Zarqa, Jordan, pledges his loyalty not to Iraqis, but to foreigners – which is why he does not care if your children are murdered and your honor destroyed…

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The Death of Zarqawi

President Bush announced the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a precision air strike on an isolated “safe house” on 7 June 2006. Along with Al-Zarqawi, seven aides, including spiritual adviser Sheik Abdul Rahman, were killed in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad.

President Bush hailed the killing as:

A severe blow to al-Qaida and it is a significant victory in the war on terror.

Al-Qaida confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and announced:

We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme.

The Jordanian-born terrorist was Iraq's most-wanted militant and the United States had placed a $25 million bounty on his head. U.S. forces believe they just missed capturing al-Zarqawi in a 20 February 2005, raid in which troops closed in on his vehicle west of Baghdad. His driver and another associate were captured and al-Zarqawi's computer was seized along with pistols and ammunition. His closest brush with capture may have come in late 2004. Iraqi security forces caught al-Zarqawi near the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah but then released him because they did not realize who he was.

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Leaflet IZD06-7144

This leaflet depicts the dead Zarqawi on the front and the text:

Al Qaida Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed.

The text on the back is:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed. Al-Qaida in Iraq is destroyed.

There is a second uncoded leaflet with the same photograph but a slightly longer text:

Al Qaida Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed.

Al Qaida Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed.

No one from Al-Qaida is safe.

It is interesting to note that about the time of the Zarqawi death; several documents were released to the public that indicated that the U.S. military had conducted a propaganda campaign to magnify his role in the insurgency. The U.S. campaign aimed to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners and driving a wedge into the insurgency by emphasizing Zarqawi's terrorist acts and foreign origin. Since 2004, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency in what may have been a disinformation campaign. The propaganda campaign included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, and Internet postings. The military's propaganda program was aimed at Iraqis, but many of the articles and news stories were picked up by the U.S. media. In one case, an alleged Zarqawi letter was leaked to a N.Y. Times reporter. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said in an internal 2004 memo:

The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date.

Some aspects of the PSYOP campaign may have worked. There are reports that Iraqi tribal insurgents attacked Zarqawi loyalists on more than one occasion. Since Zarqawi was apparently betrayed by his own people, it may be that the campaign worked even better than expected.

One problem with the campaign is that the American press was rapturous with praise after the terrorist leader’s death. It appears that America also bought into the PSYOP that Zarqawi was so important that his death might destroy the insurgency. One of the problems with such a demonization campaign is that you sometimes propagandize the wrong audience. If the terrorism persists unabated, many will wonder why so much effort and publicity went into vilifying Zarqawi.

In 2004 the 4th PSYOP Group wrote about the impact indicators that showed that their PSYOP against Zarqawi was working. Some of the proof they offered follows:

"The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date"- Brigadier General Kimmitt.

98% of all Iraqis recognize these attacks hurt terrorist progress – March 2004 Oxford poll.

A source observed Zarqawi 20 April 2004. He appeared tired and scared. The source directly contributes his condition to "the anxiety associated with the leaflets offering $10M for information leading to his capture. The source didn't even know he was Zarqawi, until he saw the leaflets" - OGA Report (5 MAY 04).

A U.S. Marine was kidnapped, and CENTCOM Operations tasked the PSYOP Task Force to assist in a safe release. The Joint PSYOP Task Force released political cartoons attacking Zarqawi as murderer of Muslims. Within 5 days Zarqawi published "manifesto" stating he does not kill Muslims, and the U.S. Marine was later released in Lebanon.

Zarqawi [the film]

The Coalition made a short film titled “Zarqawi.” It shows various scenes of deaths, destroyed vehicles, and talks about the pain caused by terrorists. At the end it shows a leaflet depicting Zarqawi and asks the viewers to report any knowledge they have about the movements and whereabouts of the terrorist’s activities contact your local police

Don’t keep information you may have to yourself. If you have any information regarding terrorists contact your local police, the Iraqi National Guard, or the Multi-National Force. Enough terrorism.

An American propaganda operation that Targeted Zarqawi

J. Michael Waller mentions an operation that specifically targeted Zarqawi and depicted him as inept, rather than the heroic fighter his publicity claims he was. In his Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War. This 2007 monograph was written as a companion to the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. It contains dimensions of war fighting against Islamist terrorists that the Counterinsurgency manual and its accompanying COIN Doctrine did not include:

An excellent case study of U.S. forces using ridicule in the present day is the release of an unedited video of the al Qaeda chief in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. in 2006. Zarqawi had controlled his entire public persona through making and releasing videos of himself. The Jordanian-born terrorist tried to portray himself as an invincible Muslim warrior, cither masked while beheading an unarmed captive, or wearing a black “uniform” and firing an automatic weapon. After a long and painstaking hunt, the U.S. military killed Zarqawi on 8 June 2006.

Zarqawi’s rigid control of his public image was also a vulnerability. Like the Wizard of Oz, who lost his ability to instill fear after a dog pulled away a curtain to expose a little man in a booth, extremists who depend on controlling their images can lose their authority quickly if they are exposed.

The terrorist’s last video, posted on the Internet on 25 April 2006. showed him in the desert firing a captured American machine gun and acting authoritative and in control. U.S. forces captured the unedited original, apparently prior to the Internet posting. The raw original depicted the al Qaeda leader in a very different fashion. On May 4, Major General Rick Lynch, a spokesman for the U.S. Command in Baghdad, presented the edited and raw videos to the press, along with commentary about Zarqawi's competence as a real warrior.

In showing the edited video. Lynch commented how Zarqawi was “very proud of the fact that he can operate this machine gun, and he proclaims that, and all of his close associates are very proud of what Zarqawi does.” Then Lynch displayed the captured unedited video, in which Zarqawi found his weapon jammed and was unable to clear it without help. “It's supposed to be automatic fire. He's shooting single shots," said Lynch. "Something is wrong with his machine gun. He looks down, can't figure it out. calls his friend to come unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again.”

The general then narrated the rest of the video: “This piece you all see as he walks away, he’s wearing his black uniform and his New Balance tennis shoes as he moves to this white pickup. And his close associates around him ... do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.

This writer viewed the news conference and noted the positive reaction from the assembled journalists, including non-U.S. journalists. Immediate news coverage was positive, with television channels and websites showing the still footage and displaying the videos. Iraqi television repeatedly broadcast the briefing and the mockery of Zarqawi. Aljazeera played down the briefing and did not air the video itself.

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Abu Ayyub al-Masri

After the death of Zarqawi, al-Qaida in Iraq announced that they had appointed Abu Ayyub al-Masri the new leader of the terrorist organization. The U.S. military said that it believes the real name of al-Qaida in Iraq's new leader is probably Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

In the week following Zarqawi’s death American and Iraqi forces carried out 452 raids killing 104 insurgents. 255 of the raids were joint operations, while 143 were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. The raids also resulted in the capture of 759 “anti-Iraqi elements.” It is clear that a treasure trove of documents and computer records were seized after the raid on al-Zarqawi's hideout. A laptop, flash-drive and other documents were found in the debris after the air strike. It was reported that Coalition forces found a thumb-drive in Zarqawi’s pocket.

The Terrorists as Monsters

Although there is some belief that the enemy should never be shown as monsters and bragging about killing them only stiffens their resistance, some Coalition leaflets are very strong showing the terrorist as skulls played as a puppet by death or shot cleanly between the eyes. We depict two such leaflets here.

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Death’s Puppet

This uncoded leaflet depicts almost the same vignette on both sides, showing death holding a skull to his right on one side and to the left on the other.

Skull on right side:

Ansar Al-Sunnah leads Al Qaida 

On the Reaper’s sleeve:  Ansar Al-Sunnah

On the khafia of the puppet:  Al Qaida 

They are unbelievers

Skull on left side: 

Al Qaida leads Ansar Al-Sunnah 

On the reaper’s sleeve: Al Qaida

On the khafia of the puppet: Ansar Al-Sunnah 

They are unbelievers 

Note: Ansar al-Sunnah or “ Group of the Protectors of Faith” is a militant group in Iraq that is fighting the U.S.-led occupation and the elected Iraqi government. The group is based in northern and central Iraq, and includes both Kurdish and Sunni Arabs as well as foreign fighters.

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Leaflet IZ-06-5588

This leaflet depicts a bleeding skull with a perfect head shot at the left and a terrorist at the right. The text is:

Death - The terrorists

The back of the leaflet depicts a terrorist covered by a “prohibited” symbol. The text is:

The terrorists are criminals and killers

Recent Consolidation Leaflets

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Handout IZD5001C

This handout depicts an hour glass filled with sand and implying that time is passing quickly. The text is:

Start working together to build a new Iraq
It is time for the Iraqi people to put their disputes aside

The back of the handout has seven photographs of happy Iraqi families and the text:

The Coalition supports freedom for all Iraqis
We should work together to build a bright future

The 13th PSYOP Battalion (EPW) found during interviews with Iraqi prisoners that this leaflet had many faults. They pointed out:

Illiterate Iraqi population does not understand the Arabic word “eetclaf” (coalition) used in listed product. The word “eetclaf” has many different meanings including “lovers.” Interpreter explains this word using the alternate Arabic word “tahalf” which is easily understood by educated and uneducated Iraqis alike. The word is also used in television and radio broadcasts. No one recognizes the hourglass in the picture. The handshake was behind the hourglass which made it hard to see; Unclear on who was shaking hands: Iraqi and Iraqi or Iraqi and American. Too dark. The message tends to be clear, but the front picture made little sense.

A 10th Mountain Division staff sergeant on his fourth tour in Iraq forwarded several consolidation leaflets in April 2005 to show us what is currently being disseminated by PSYOP troops.

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Leaflet IZG8539a depicts three young Iraqi boys near a U.S. Humvee. The message reminds them that throwing stones at the vehicle could result in their injury or death. The text is:

Throwing rocks is dangerous.

It may be fun to throw rocks at Coalition Forces' vehicles but this could cause injury to coalition soldiers or injuries to you.

Coalition Forces are authorized to arrest any person throwing rocks or participating in any other dangerous activities.

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Leaflet Izb01BQhb2002 depicts members of the new Iraqi police force on one side and a bombed car and city street on the other. The text reminds the people that the police are working hard to bring peace and stability to the area and lists five phone numbers where any citizen can call to report a terrorist. Text on the front is: 

Report Evildoers who Kill Your Children 

Call the following numbers
[Five phone numbers] 
To report VBIEDs and those who set up these traps
No one will know that you made the call but all will know the groups who did it. 

[Note] “VBIED” is “Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device.”

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A small wallet card was also distributed with the same phone numbers and an added e-mail address: baghdadtipshotline@yahoo.com.

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Leaflet IZA03alHB2094 depicts pictures of Iraqi National Guardsmen on the front and the back. The text asks the citizens to be proud of their National Guard and of themselves.

It has become possible for the Iraqis to choose their own future and make their own choices.  You are the true heroes of Iraq. Your fight is pure [has the whiteness of purity].

Raise your heads high and say with pride, 'I am Iraqi and My People are Free'

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There were many such leaflets prepared by the Coalition to boost the reputation and the acceptance of the new Iraqi military and police forces. The above handout on glossy paper is one of a series showing the forces at drill or at parade. The message is the same on all of these leaflets:

Security for the Iraqi People

Leaflet IZG9252

Another leaflet depicts their new Iraqi police force in various poses. These are called consolidation leaflets and are designed to convince the people to support the government and its various agencies. The text and image are the same on front and back:

Participation in the Iraqi Security Forces means having......

Dedication, Resolve, Strength,

Respect for all human beings, Humility toward others, and a Continuous struggle for the best

A Police Poster

This poster features a heroic Iraqi policeman. There is a half-built wall behind him, perhaps a symbol of the new stability of the peaceful Iraq. A lion stands in the foreground, usually a symbol of power. This poster was used in Ramadi, Iraq in 2007-2008 for the Sons of Iraq or the Awakening Movement when the U.S. turned the Sunni tribal sheikhs against Al Qaida. The short text is:



Police on Patrol

This police poster shows a group of them riding in an open truck, one waving to the crowds along the street. The text is:

The Iraqi police would like to thank the citizens of Ramadi very much for preserving peace during the blessed month of Ramadan. Thanks to your help, the province witnessed a 90% reduction in attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, compared to last year.

Keep up the good work by reporting suspicious activities.

Leaflet IZG 2611

Part of the way the United States builds a nation it supports is to constantly tell the people about the honesty of the members of the government and how they can be trusted. Here a leaflet has been prepared for the public that asks the people to support their police and can also be used to identify the rank of any police they see. The back of the leaflet is checkered.

In 2004, the 4th PSYOP Group mentioned various impact indicators that proved the new Iraqi Police Force was one of their successes:

On 3 June 2003, the Commander, CENTCOM directed a legitimacy program for all the Iraqi Security Services.

A 3 October 2003 Oxford Poll showed that the Iraqi Police Service was the least trusted organization in the country.

The police were sent to extensive Professional Training in Jordan, were given a Code of Conduct to live by, and a PSYOP campaign was designed to build up the people’s confidence. The public was informed of the progress.

A 4 June 2004 Oxford Poll showed the Iraqi Police Service was now the most trusted Institution in Iraq.

On 13 September 2007, a Sunni tribal leader cooperating with the United States against al Qaeda in Iraq was killed in an improvised explosive device attack near his house in Anbar Province. Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, head of the Anbar Salvation Council (also known as the Anbar Awakening), led the revolt of Sunni tribes who backed the Iraqi government and U.S. forces in Iraq. The IED blast occurred near Abu Risha's home, targeting his soft-skin SUV. He died instantly, along with his personal security guard and three other guards. Following the attack, a second explosion occurred not far from the first, also intended for Abu Risha's party.

In Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno commander of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq hailed the Sunni sheik's leadership.

The people of Anbar have rejected the kind of violence that took his life. We stand resolved with the people of Anbar and the Government of Iraq to turn back the barbaric ideology that led to tremendous hardships and suffering. This act of murder will serve only to steel that resolve.

Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha Leaflet

This leaflet depicts the Sunni leader with a white horse that I assume indicates purity. The text is:

Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha

Iraq must be unified and built upon the basis of equality, without sectarian orientations.

It is interesting to note that the leaflet misspelled the Sunni chief’s name, calling him "Al-Burisha" rather than "Abu Risha.

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Leaflet IZG9238

This leaflet is a warning against Iraqi insurgent improvised explosives. The text on the front and back is:

Those who manufacture explosives do not care who is killed. Their only aims are terrorism and oppression.

Improvised explosives results in the wounding or killing Iraqi children. You are the key to stop these violent acts. Tell the Joint Forces or Iraqi Police about improvised explosives and those who make them.

Anti-Terrorist Posters

The next two posters show the same 2007 terrorist act, but with a different text. The first depicts a terrorist at the left and at the right a burning wreckage of what seems to be some sort of an oil installation. The text is:

Saboteurs stop the wheel of progress by smashing the infrastructure. Notify local police of saboteurs.


The second poster shows the exact same terrorist act from slightly different angles and has added various phone numbers that can be used to inform on terrorists or saboteurs at the bottom. The text is:


Report suspected acts of sabotage or damage to power plants and water pump and petroleum product facilities.

Damage to your facilities hurts all Iraqis and causes difficulties in your daily life.

To report terrorists, call the following numbers:

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The United States Army Central Command Photo Gallery depicts Specialist Brian Dobrenan of the 1210th Tactical Psychological Operations Detachment, 315th PSYOP Company, distributing handbills in a Baghdad neighborhood. The leaflet in question is IZG9238, which we depict and translate above.

The United States Army Special Command release of 12 January 2004 said in part:

The 1210th Tactical Psychological Operations Detachment, part of the 315th PSYOP Company assigned to the 1st Armored Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, hit the streets of Baghdad recently to help combat anti-coalition attacks with Operation Bulldog Speak Up.

The soldiers passed out handbills requesting information from residents about improvised explosive device makers and any other anti-coalition activity happening in the area. The PSYOP detachment distributed flyers explaining the punishment for criminal activity as well as rewards for reporting crime or suspicious people. The 1210th TPD spends a lot of time in the community disseminating information through a variety of handbills, posters and bumper stickers. The unit also distributes "Baghdad Now," the PSYOP-created bi-weekly newspaper which provides residents with positive news on the Coalition's work in Iraq

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This leaflet is clearly designed for children and the vignette is drawn in a very childish comic-book manner. An Iraqi child points to explosives on the ground at the right. At the left an American soldier warns him of the danger. The leaflet is identical on both sides.

The text at the right is:


Attention Children

The text at the left is:

These are not toys!! Leave them where found. Tell an adult so they can inform Iraqi Security forces in your area.

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Helping the Evil People…

This uncoded leaflet uses the same cartoon approach with a very simple message that can be easily understood by a child. The front depicts a terrorist holding a block of explosive and handing the detonator to a young boy. The text is:

Helping evil people will lead to your destruction.

On the back we see the resultant explosion, and the child bandaged and missing a leg and an eye. The text is:

These evil acts will cause you pain.

The following two handouts were prepared by the British 15 (UK) PSYOP Group as part of their government building and consolidation operations in and around Basra in 2004. They were originally prepared in Arabic. These are translated file copies acquired by researcher Lee Richards.

The following two handouts were prepared by the British 15 (UK) PSYOP Group as part of their government building and consolidation operations in and around Basra in 2004. They were originally prepared in Arabic. These are translated file copies acquired by researcher Lee Richards.

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In the first handout a young Iraqi boy is depicted about to throw a stone. The message implies that a soldier is not aware of what the child is throwing and might be forced to fire his weapon. The text is:

Is this a stone or a grenade?
The Security Forces can't tell either.
It is the difference between life and death.

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This handout is very colorful and patriotic and depicts Iraqi flags, a woman and child, soldiers, security forces and police. The text is:

We are protecting Iraq's Future.
Let us come together.

In November 2005, a member of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard shared these four leaflets he picked up during his recent deployment. This series bore a new code (IZ-05 + a numeric) and were all printed in a single color, either red or blue.

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Leaflet IZ-05-5228 depicts a large radio antenna on both the front and back. The text is identical on both sides:

There is a new station in the city today,
transmitting its program to your area on
864-756 AM
864-756 KHz

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The front of leaflet IZ-05-5280 depicts cross hairs of a rifle scope with the text warning to insurgents that there is:

No place to hide.

The back of the leaflet shows US and Iraqi forces on patrol and is addressed to the insurgents:

To terrorists: The Joint Forces and the Iraqi forces are coming for you

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The front of leaflet IZ-05-5542 warns drivers what will happen to them if they fail to stop at check points. The text on the front reads:

If you do not stop at the check points We will immediately fire at your cars. You must follow these instructions for your safety

* reduce speed.
* stop when you see signs or receive instructions.
* Your hands should be visable all the time.
* do not pass other cars or avoid check points.
* It is possible that your cars will be checked.
* Follow all the instructions.

The back of the leaflet has a photo of  Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and states:

Do not allow this criminal to ruin your mosques and your future.
Remove and expel all the terrorists, extremists and rebellious
by calling this local number 0-796-193-1643

Listen to station A M 865 And to station A M 756.
To hear the truth about the terrorists we brought to justice.
652-499   622-911

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Leaflet IZ-05-5570 depicts a person casting their vote in the upcoming election (note the ink on the finger). The text on the front of the leaflet is:

The referendum is on 15th of tashreen al-aoual (October) of this year
The elections is on 15th of canoon al-aoual (December) of this year
Destroy terrorism and insure your future by voting in the coming elections.

The back of the leaflet depicts Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi using the Iraqi people as puppets. The text is:

Through exterminating and killing the honest Iraqi citizens
Zargawi wants to force the Iraqi people to lose their civil rights.

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An Iraqi boy holds a flyer about the upcoming Iraqi elections in Balad, Iraq, Jan. 26, 2005. <(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kurt Gibbons III)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kurt Gibbons III)

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Tri-fold voting handout

On the subject of voting, a very fancy tri-fold handout on glossy cardboard depicts a hand at the far left with ink on one finger, and elder Iraqi in the center reading an election brochure, and three photographs of happy Iraqis at the right. The text on this pro-voting handout is (from left to right):

Panel 1 (Three photos)

In Baghdad a man carries his son on his way to the voting site to practice Free Elections.
A Voter displays his finger colored by ink
Two women in Kirkuk show their sign of voting.

Panel 2 (old man):

Free Elections brought to you by Free Iraq

Panel 3 (hand): 

Free Iraq

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2005 Cartoon depicting how by voting the Iraqi people can defeat terrorism

The Iraqi elections were very important to the Coalition and U.S. troops spent a lot of time supporting them. Staff Sergeant Jack Lewis mentions this in: Nothing in Reserve: true stories, not war stories, Kindle Edition, 2011:

I was planning to charge around town in one of Charger Troop’s Stryker armored vehicles, broadcasting pro-election messages, pre-recorded in Arabic, from a man-portable loudspeaker system…Two days before the election, I was sitting on top of a school in Tall ‘Afar, screaming at the top of my batteries. My manpack loudspeaker was shoved up against the wall at the edge of the roof. It repeatedly squawked out the eight pro-election messages I had pre-recorded on a borrowed MP3 player…Previously, I had dropped off election banners to all the troops…

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Young Iraqi boys hold a voting flyer, on Jan. 24, 2005. 350th PSYOPS Company from LSA Anaconda is responsible for getting the word out to the surrounding communities of the upcoming January 30, 2005 Iraqi elections.

Before we leave this concept of marking a finger with ink to be sure that they do not vote more than once, I should point out a type of problem that can occur when such a leaflet is prepared without pretesting. FM 3-05.301, Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures tells of a mistake made in the leafleting image. I edit the passage for brevity:

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In January 2005, following the first general elections in Iraq, within 24 hours, the 307th Tactical PSYOP Company produced several leaflet prototypes. Due to the short- notice requirement, the PSYOP Company had to forgo pretesting. The products were electronically sent to a contracted local printer. The following morning, the PSYOP Company found time to pretest the products and received the exact opposite response than the one intended. One handbill contained a picture of a Shi’a woman holding her right index finger, which was covered with voting ink, in the air with the phrase:

A lifetime of waiting, a day of reckoning.

A major problem occurred with this leaflet which points out the importance point of pretesting. FM 3-05.301 Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, dated August 2007 explains:

In January 2005, following the first general elections in Iraq, the 1st Cavalry Division sought to capitalize on the election’s success by disseminating PSYOP products on the streets of Baghdad as soon as possible. Within 24 hours, the 307th Tactical PSYOP Company produced several prototypes, which were then translated and subsequently approved by the 1st Cavalry Division's commander. Due to the short notice requirement, the PSYOP company had to forgo pretesting the prototypes prior to approval to meet the division commander's suspense. Once approved, the products were electronically sent to a contracted local printer. The following morning, the PSYOP company found time to pretest the products and received the exact opposite response than the one intended. One handbill contained a picture of a Shi'a woman holding her right index finger, which was covered with voting ink, in the air with the phrase, "A lifetime of waiting, a day of reckoning." Unfortunately, Sunni target audience members interviewed thought this product was a Shi'a rallying call for retribution against Sunnis for the years of subjugation the Shi'as experienced at the hands of a Sunni-dominated government. Once the pretest results were assessed, the PSYOP company immediately contacted the local printer and canceled the print order for this handbill, preventing a potentially embarrassing situation or violent reaction from the Target Audience.

Posters for the Iraq Election of 2005

The following two posters were prepared in 204-2005 in Baghdad for the first Iraq post-Saddam election. The first depicts a man holding up his inked finger showing that he voted. The text is:

This finger can choose a new generation of leaders for Iraq.

With a phone call, you can also stop terrorism.


If you know of any terrorist activity, call the following numbers

The rest of the message is phone numbers to be called if you have information and an email address for the same purpose.


The second poster shows several men showing their inked fingers to prove that they voted. The funny thing is that this one does not even mention the vote, instead it is a warning to terrorists. The text is:


The people have said that they do not want you here. Millions of Iraqis are watching you and they are angry with you.

YOU are the prey now.

How do you feel about that?

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The front of leaflet IZ-05-5712 depict Iraqi leaders with crosshairs on them. The test is:

Al Qaida in Iraq is targeting your rulers in al-Anbar.
Support your government and the rulers of your government.

The back of the leaflet is all text and reads:

To insure your safety, the applied security measures will continue to be effective until new instructions arrives.

* An increase in the number of patrols,

* An increase in the number of check points around the city entrances,

* The security measures at the check points will be stricter.

We apologize for the inconvenient caused by these measures but they are necessary for your protection and for your family's protection from the guerrilla's attacks.

The Iraqi forces along with the MultiNational forces will ease these measures only when these terrorists' attacks stop. To speed up and ease these security operations we need your help.

If you have information about the terrorists or their activities, please inform the nearest unit of Iraqi forces or the MultiNational forces by calling this mobile phone number:


652-499 622-911

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

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Unnumbered leaflet

The front of the above unnumbered leaflet shows a man planting a mine. the text warns:

If you decide to plant a mine.

The back of the leaflet depicts a dead insurgent with the text:

This is what will happen to you

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Leaflet IZD-9587 surfaced in late 2005. At least 109 insurgents and one American soldier were killed overnight in a major offensive launched by U.S. in October 2004 in the “Sunni Triangle.” An estimated 3,000 U.S. troops moved into Samarra in what the United States called “repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces.” Possibly in support of this operation, a radio leaflet for Iraq coded IZD-9587 was distributed, which depicts a radio antenna at the left and the text:

Radio Samarra on wave length 106.1 FM

Radio Samarra for all the information

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The front of the leaflet to Samarra seems to show various pictures of Iraqis being placed under control by security forces. The text is:

Iraqi security forces and Multinational forces are helping to restore security and stability to Samarra.

Any person violating the curfew will be arrested and interrogated

The picture on the back of the leaflet is not clear but would seem to be a peaceful city. The text is:


From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For your safety stay home and do not drive your car on the street or on the sidewalk during the curfew hours; so that you do not become suspected of being an enemy.

The Cash for Guns Campaign

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A sampling of the weapons turned in under the "Guns for Cash Program"

In an attempt to get weapons off the streets of Iraq and out of the hands of terrorists, the United States initiated a 5-day campaign of cash for guns in October 2004. The program started in the militant Shiite slum section called Sadr City in Baghdad, and if successful will be extended to other centers of resistance before the Iraqi nationwide elections in January 2005. Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr promised the government that they would hand over medium and heavy weapons for cash. Iraqi police and National Guardsmen will then assume security responsibility for the district, which is home to about 2.5 million people.

This is the latest of several truces in al-Sadr, none of which lasted more than 40 days. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said that he hoped that all the weapons would be turned in. he said "We are going to prevail against the forces of evil here in Iraq, Whatever it takes, we'll do."

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Some of the mortar rounds turned in for the reward

On the first day of the amnesty a large number of AK-47s and other automatic weapons were turned in at the Al-Habebea and two other police stations in Sadr City. There was also a large cache of mortar rounds, land mines, hand grenades, explosives, rocket launchers and TNT,

The prices offered for weapons ranged from $5 American dollars for a hand grenade, $50 for an automatic weapon, $170 for a grenade launcher, $500 for a sniper rifle, and $1,000 for a heavy-caliber machine gun. One Mahdi fighter was paid $14,500 for delivering a large cache of rocket propelled grenades and mortars. Another fighter turned in a Sam-7 anti-aircraft missile.

Eyes as a PSYOP Theme

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Soldier posting "Eyes" leaflet

Early in the Operation Enduring Freedom attack on Afghanistan the U.S. dropped an oversized leaflet depicting Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. To the left are three pairs of eyes and the text:

We are watching!

During the early stages of Operation Iraqi freedom the U.S. prepared Task Force 20 leaflet IZG-7525.  The leaflet simply shows a pair of eyes looking at the viewer. The text is:

No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice.

In the late consolidation stage of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the use of the eyes as a PSYOP theme became very popular. I have seen 7 such leaflets all in a rather stark red and black, many with different short messages on the front and various vignettes on the back such as the photograph of a wanted Iraqi terrorist, cartoons depicting skeletons, and a group of 10 terrorists along with the reward for each. We depict several versions of the "eyes" leaflets.

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Version 1

This leaflet depicts Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the back. The text on the front is:

We will chase you
and show you no mercy

The back of this variety depicts Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who became the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq after its former leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in June of 2006, and says:

Abu Ayyub al-Masri

You will be the next Takfir [unbeliever] leader coming to death

You will join al-Zarqawi in Hell

On 19 April 2010, the New York Times announced that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in a joint raid between Iraqi and United States forces in Tikrit, near Saddam Hussein's hometown. He was found hiding in a hole in the ground. The security forces surrounded the hole, a gunfight ensued, and he was killed.

The back of this second variation depicts Sami Kareem and the same text as the leaflet above.

Sami Kareem

You will be the next Takfir [unbeliever] leader coming to death

You will join al-Zarqawi in Hell

I was unable to find this individual in the Iraq's most wanted list, but a former soldier who knew of him told me that he was a warlord in Mosul who caused a lot of problems for the Coalition.

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Version 2

This version of the “eye” leaflet exists in various sizes and at least two varieties. One variety depicts a cartoon of three skeletons holding rifles and standing over the bodies of dead children holding a black flag. A second variety bears the picture of a wanted Iraqi. The text on the front is:

Takfiri there is no place to hide

"Takfiri" indicates a person who believes that he is always correct and will go to Heaven while all the rest will rot in Hell.

The skeleton image is also found on regular leaflets without the eyes. The text on this "evil eye" leaflet is: 

The True Arm Behind al-Qaida

The skeletons are labeled with the names, code-names, or nicknames of terrorists. They are:

The Egyptian
Sheikh Hamed Rasheed

A second variety of the same version depicts al-Zarqawi. The text is:

Takfiri killed

Thanks to credible information from Iraqi citizens, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed. Continue to report to the Joint Crisis Coordinating Center information pertaining to the activities of takfiris.

After 2003 Takfirism gained support among al-Qaida's middle leadership and the ordinary people. These ideologues were no longer defined by their hatred of the US military machine. Takfirism encompassed the belief that infidels within Muslim societies gave strength to the enemy and were a danger to be eliminated. Leaders of infidel Muslim societies were prime candidates for elimination before those who had been led astray from Islam could be brought back into the fold. After the US invasion it flourished in Iraq, where the al-Qaida leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, killed in June 2006, was a leading exponent. The Coalition saw him as a threat to moderate Arabs and celebrates his death. Mainstream Sunni and Shi’ite leaders often refer to armed extremist groups as Takfiris.

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Version 3 

This leaflet depicts in at least two varieties, each showing a different wanted Iraqi and the text on the front:

He speaks on your behalf

The Coalition is saying that when you passively accept the actions of the terrorists it is as if you have accepted their leadership and allowed them to speak for you. One variety of this leaflet depicts the captured Baath Party chairman Rasheed Taan Khazim on the back with the text:

We arrested Rasheed Taan Khazim Al Azawi


Version 4

This version is a bit different with the background almost being a gold color. The text is:

He is talking about you

The Coalition implies that although the terrorist is hiding and thinks he is protected by his people, others know about him and will talk about him and the Coalition has microphones and listening devices and agents everywhere and hear everything. This handout has 10 wanted Iraqis on the back along with the reward paid for their capture.

Version 5 - IZD7527

In this case the leaflet is green instead of red. The back is blank and bears cross-hatching so the insurgents cannot use it. The text on the front is:

No matter where you run, no matter where you hide,
Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice.


This also appears as a larger Task Force 20 handout coded IZG7527. The handout as the face in a natural color rather than in green as is the leaflet. The text is identical

No matter where you run, no matter where you hide,
Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice.

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Dissemination by hand of the “Eye” leaflet

British researcher Lee Richards found this official U.S. Navy photograph on an Iraqi citizen holding a leaflet given to him by Iraqi National Police during their walking patrol in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad, Iraq, 6 December 2008.

One wonders if these eyes on leaflets imply the “evil eye.” Lennea Mueller mentions the evil eye in her 2012 Institute of World Politics paper: “Integrating Cultural Geography with Psychological Operations: Islamic Superstitions.”

The presence of the evil eye, found in the Qur’an: “The influence of an evil eye is a fact, if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of the evil eye.”

The evil eye can be source of bad luck, disease, envy, and jealously. Many Muslims believe if it is used against them they must seek protection.

An uncoded leaflet showing a Coalition soldier wearing night goggles

This leaflet has no code, so we know little about it. Earlier in the article we depicted leaflets that told the insurgents they could be seen by aircraft and satellite. This leaflet could go there. In the past few pages, we have shown fierce eyes watching the terrorists. I decided to put this leaflet here because it is also meant to terrify the enemy, making it clear that he can always be seen. The leaflet is quite strong, showing the soldier on watch with the night dark and full moon behind him. Curiously, when I taught tactics, I would have berated this soldier because he has made himself a clear silhouette for any enemy sniper looking for a standing soldier with a moon behind him. But that is a story for another article.

The problem with this leaflet is that the back side which has the text is not quite right. There are a few prominent red dots in the text which seem to be random and meaningless and some of the words have been broken up into two parts with a space in between. The translator has no idea why this was done. The text on the front is:

The green eyes are watching you

The back is a long text:

When night falls and they are lying in their homes, the criminals think that they are safe and that no one is watching them. The soldiers with the green eyes are protecting the good people of Iraq. With persistence and unrelenting determination, they will chase the evil criminals who threaten peace in Iraq. Furthermore, they will provide protection to the innocent citizens and dispense justice to all those who want to do them harm. So, we are making the following proclamation to all those who possess illegal weapons, or provide help to the criminals, or contribute to their activities against coalition forces. The green eyes will find you and put an end to your crimes.

Some Odd PSYOP Campaigns

Some of the hundreds and perhaps thousands of leaflets that have been prepared for Iraq are just a bit odd. That is, the pictures or the text is either different than what we would expect, or seems to make use of some other form of media like books or movies. In many cases there are an entire series of leaflets that stress these very specific themes. We will just show one such leaflet from each group to give an example.

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Leaflet IZG8532 Front

One series of leaflets just asks the people to stop firing their weapons into the air. Besides the fact that those bullets have to eventually return to earth, there is the chance that low-flying aircraft could be hit and a better chance that the Coalition forces will open fire on those they believe to be terrorists. Some of the text on one such leaflet coded IZG8532 states:

Recently, 50 Iraqi civilians were killed and over 100 injured by celebratory fire.

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Leaflet IZG8562a Front

President George Bush appears on hardly any leaflets or posters. I suppose there were some thought that the Iraqis might deface his image. However, he does appear on leaflet IZG8562a where he states that America is a friend of the Muslims and deeply respects their faith. He blames the terrorists for the murder and injury of Iraqis during their high holy days. This leaflet is probably in regard to 40 Iraqis being killed by terrorists on the first day of Ramadan 2003. He says in part:

The spirit of peace and charity of Ramadan has been violated by desperate criminals who only seek to threaten Iraqi’s economic growth, security and stability…These criminals have shown no respect for this holy time.

Bush appears again on leaflet IZG8570 where he pledges to see the battle to the end and says:

We did not defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins.

Several Coalition leaflets mention the opening of markets, sales bazaars and even zoos. They are not particularly pictorial so we will not depict them, but it is obvious that in an attempt to show the Iraqis that their quality of life was improving, the Coalition would prepare a leaflet or poster for almost any type of commercial opening. For instance, leaflet IZC8520iCI tells the reader that the Independence market will open July 6th at the Old Khalaney Garage. At the same time, other leaflets warned against the “Black Market.” For instance, leaflet IZC8528a told the Iraqis that black markets are an illegal method of selling and distributing fuel and other critical materials to the local population.

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Poster IZG05-0069 Front

We have mentioned earlier in this article that a vast number of leaflets and posters were prepared in an attempt to recruit members for the new Iraqi military and police force. We could show dozens of them. I have selected just one because when I read the text it reminded me of the motion picture “Star Ship Troopers.” All through that movie they placed little comical ads asking citizens to join the force and telling them that they had the weapons, the know-how, etc. And then I saw poster IZG05-0069 and it was as if they had copied the ads directly from the movie.

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Poster IZG8514b

The lack of electrical power has been a major problem for the Coalition forces occupying Iraq. Much of the problem was caused by the Coalition when they bombed the power-generating plants. The terrorists (or patriots if you like) have blamed the Coalition for failing to improve the quality of life for the people. The Coalition blames the terrorists for their sabotage of the plants and thieves for stealing the wire and machinery. There is an entire series of leaflets just on the subject of the loss of electrical power. Poster IZG8514b depicts an Iraqi man and child in the background while in the foreground a thief steals electrical wire. Some of the text is:

Theft of electrical wire and electrical supplies only delays restoration of electrical services.

Gummed Stickers

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Gummed Poster CPA C017

This Saddam reward poster has an adhesive back. Rather than stand in the open with a bucket and brush and glue this to the wall, one need only pull off the back and slap it on the wall. Instant graffiti! The text is:

Cash reward for the arrest of

Any information that leads to arresting SADDAM Hussein or proves his death will make you eligible to receive a reward of 25 million U.S. dollars. Send any information you have to the Coalition authorities

Call the number: 969-813-66666
Email: tips@onta.centcom.mil

Besides leaflets, handbills, posters and matchbooks, the Coalition also produced several gummed stickers and bumper stickers to be placed on walls and wherever Iraqis congregated or on their cars.

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Reward Bumper Sticker

The above bumper sticker coded CPA 0013 depicts five United States $100 bills and the text:


Any information that leads to the prevention of deliberate damage to the Iraqi infrastructure, acts of violence against Coalition forces, or to the arrest of those responsible for such acts may lead to a cash reward of up to U.S. $10,000.

Phone: 964-813-6666

Email: Tips@orha.centcom.mil

Bumper Sticker 17B1eP3-3006

This bright orange bumper sticker has a long message. The text is

Terrorist operations are originating from this area where the people live.

Searching in this area will continue until this area is rid of terrorism and terrorists cease their terrorist operations.

If you have information on terrorists, please call the following numbers: 513462 or 07701623300.

Or by email: newhopemosul@yahoo.com

When giving information, your identity or name is not disclosed, and a reward is given for information.

Participate together and help Iraqi Security Forces preserve security and stability in Iraq.

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Iraqi Lion

The small uncoded gummed PSYOP sticker depicts a lion and is printed on a plasticized paper. This striding lion of glazed brick with its mouth opened in a threatening roar, once decorated a side of the “ Processional Way” in ancient Babylon . The “Processional Way” led out of the city through a massive gate named for the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, whose symbol was the lion. Each year, during the celebration of the great New Year Festival, the images of the city's deities were carried out through the Ishtar Gate and past some 120 lions such as this one to a special festival house north of the city. The lion symbolizes power. It is worth noting that the front paw of the lion is dyed blue, a sign that he has taken part in the election process of Iraq and has performed as a good citizen. The text is:

In a merciful way we wish to notify and to inform the Iraqi people to go forward toward reconciliation and to reject violence.

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Iraqi Flag

At least two versions of this gummed sticker exist. This vignette seems to have been inspired by the famous “I Love New York” slogan with the heart where the word “love” should be. This 6.5 x 4.5-inch gummed sticker shows a modified Iraqi flag and the text:

We all love Iraq

A second version is 8 x 5-inches and has a white rose over the heart. This same image was used on T-shirts given as gifts to Iraqis. It says:

All for Iraq

In the past, I often noticed tourists to New York City confused by the symbolism of the heart in the center of the text. Eventually, the phrase got so popular and was placed on so many items (cups, towels, etc.) that most people recognized the meaning of the statement. The heart meant “love.” When the symbol was later used in Iraq it was thought that the target audience would understand the meaning of the message, but that may be incorrect. I was told by a PSYOP veteran of the war that:

There was a campaign in Iraq with stickers that said “We all love IRAQ” with “love” depicted as a heart. In 2005, just after the election, the symbolism was attacked by Al Jazeera and local newspaper editorial cartoons to illustrate and mock the confusion created by the heart symbol. This confusion was capitalized by Arabic media sources with different possible meanings for the symbol, such as; the “heart” means “We club Iraq,” “We spade Iraq,” “We own Iraq,” etc. The lesson learned was not to use American symbols on propaganda to the indigenous population. The saying began to mean “We all AMERICAN Iraq”, and took away from the intended message of all tribes coming together for a united Iraq. Our interpreters told us about the news reports and attacks. We tacked the stories to the wall of the Tactical Team Office as a reminder.

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This final 6 x 3-inch gummed sticker depicts members of the new Iraqi defense forces. The text is:

One Team, One Mission
Security for the People of Iraq

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The vignette was also printed as an 8 x 5-inch handout leaflet. The leaflet version is one of a number that depicts a map of Iraq on the back with the text:

Help the Iraqi Security Forces in providing security to Iraq, through your reporting of illegal activities to the Joint Coordinating Center.


Task Force Lightning

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One team - One mission

A propaganda campaign was built around Task Force Lighning which consisted of Coalition and Iraqi forces. In the gummed sticker section above you will find a propaganda label that depicts three Iraqi men and the insignias of their military and security forces.

The Coalition also produced large posters 18 inches in width by 13 inches in height. The posters are blank on the back since they will be placed on a wall. These posters also show the insignia of various American units to show that the Iraqis are on and equal footing with the American military. At least two versions seem to exist; one depicts the insignia of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 4th Fourth Infantry Division. The second depicts the insignia of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division.

8.5 x 5.5-inch leaflets were also prepared. Since they were meant to be handed out and saved, there was additional text on the back.

The text on the front of the leaflet and poster:


The text on the back of leaflet:

Friends and Iraqi Partners,

We are proud to be here and anxious to get to work with our Iraqi teammates. Our mission here is clear: provide our Iraqi friends and counterparts the assistance they need to take over their own security. We will continue to put Iraqi units in the lead; we will stand with them and beside them. We are honored to serve alongside you. Our joint ultimate goal is an Iraq free of the threat of terrorism where your citizens can live their daily lives in a safe, free and prosperous Iraq confident that they can attain their goals and their dreams for their children.

Commanding General
Task Force Lightning

The Coalition also produced these images in a 4.5 x 3.5-inch gummed label. Since they would be stuck on a table or wall, there is no text on the back of the labels.

History of Task Force Lightning

In July 2006, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the Combat Aviation Brigade, and the Division Headquarters of the 25th Infantry Division deployed to Iraq. On 13 September 2006, Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division assumed command of the Multinational Division-North from the 101st Airborne Division and was located at Contingency Operating Base (COB) Speicher in Tikrit. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Infantry), 25th Infantry Division was located at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior in Kirkuk and the Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division was split-based at COB Speicher and FOB Warrior.

Multinational Division-North was responsible for a 47,000 square mile region of northern Iraq. To conduct operations in such a vast area HQ, 25th Infantry Division had under its operational control the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and its Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) and BCTs from the 1st Cavalry, 2nd Infantry and 82nd Airborne Divisions as well as elements of the Marines, Air Force, Navy and National Guard, a total of some 23,500 personnel.

Known as Task Force Lightning, these units conducted combat operations against insurgents, trained and equipped almost 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police and upgraded the operational capability of four Iraqi Army divisions. The units of Task Force Lighting also implemented over 1,800 reconstruction projects that included building schools, medical facilities, water, and sewage projects and increasing oil pipeline capacity. Specifically, the 3rd BCT conducted over one thousand combat operations together with Iraqi Army units and completed over one hundred civic improvement projects. The CAB flew over 200,000 flying hours in transporting troops and cargo on more than 30,000 missions.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) began a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq in October 2006. The brigade was based at Forward Operating Base Kalsu at Iskandariya forty kilometers south of Baghdad and conducted security and stability operations in some of the most violent areas of the country in Babil, Karbala and Najaf provinces. In addition, two of its battalions also served for a considerable part of the fifteen months away from the brigade. The 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry served with the Marines in Anbar Province and the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry with the 2nd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad. The 4th BCT returned to Fort Richardson in December 2007.

Calendars as PSYOP


A 2007 Wallet Calendar for Iraq

Calendars are excellent PSYOP and have been used by the United States starting in the Korean War. The strength of a calendar is that it is placed on the wall for one complete year and almost every day someone in the household might look at it and see the propaganda message. In Korean and Vietnam, the U.S. prepared calendars, sometimes actual works of art with historical photographs and images of important battles or monuments in the nation it was prepared for. The people were known to take some of these pictures and frame them as artwork. Sometimes the enemy responded with them, making calendars with anti-American text and images. Besides the larger wall calendars, small wallet calendars were very popular. The one depicted above is a 2007 wallet calendar that features members of the New Iraqi Army and Police Force. This would be what we call a “government building” theme, where the people are told the importance of these new democratic forces that have replaced the old corrupt and despotic forces.

Cartoon PSYOP

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Cartoon IZGG0014

Cartoons are valuable as a media for ideas and concepts and can be understood even by those who are illiterate or read poorly. The Coalition prepared an entire series of cartoons leaflets coded “IZGG.” They are an interesting sub-topic

Cartoon IZGG0014 depicts the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a rat trap held by a strong arm representing Iraq. The text is:

This is your future al-Zarqawi.

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Cartoon IZGG05-0001

Cartoon IZGG05-0001 depicts an armed mosque with guns protruding from every opening and wired explosives outside on the ground. The text is:

In the name of Allah, “Mosques are for Allah, and only for Allah.” Allah said the truth.

Are the places of God and worship turning into hide-outs for terrorists and their weapons?


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“Cultural Awareness” playing cards

Psychological Warfare uses many types of media. One of the most interesting is the playing card. These cards have a long and well-respected use in the military. During the years that I was in the service I received many different types as training aides. To name just a few: “Survival Cards for South East Asia,” “Aircraft Recognition Playing Cards,” “Armored Vehicle Recognition,” “Soviet Manufactured Forward Area Aircraft,” “Free World Forward Area Aircraft,” and “Russian Words and Terminology.” Earlier in this article we have mentioned the “Iraq’s Most Wanted” playing cards.  

The U.S. military is now distributing “Cultural Awareness” playing cards to its troops in an attempt to teach them how to prevent inadvertent damage to archaeological sites and stop the traffic of looted artifacts. This “good neighbor” project is explored in depth in an article entitled “Army Project Teaches Cultural Awareness to Deployed troops,” by Toni Eugene in Army, March 2008. Each card has the text “ROE First” at the top, reminding the soldiers that safety and the rules of engagement have priority over saving any antiquities. Approximately 50,000 decks of the card have been shipped to troops and installations already, and more are on the way. Note that these cards are prepared for use both in Iraq and Afghanistan. The text on few cards is: 

Buying looted artifacts is forbidden. These objects will be confiscated if discovered during redeployment inspection. 

The main goal of archaeology is to understand the past - your past 

The Department of Defense needs your help protecting cultural heritage resources. 

Ancient walls of mud brick are easily damaged.

Nation-building Comic Books

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The Thunderbolt Team  -  The Sixth Brigade

The first comic books were created as collaborative effort with the US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, which did the initial character and plot development. They are based on the security forces, both military and police, in the Middle East. The initiative for the comic-book project came from the US Department of Defense's Central Command, which is responsible for US security interests in 25 Middle Eastern and Arab nations. It is hoped that the comics will help engender respect among children for the national police force and the new Iraqi Army. The BBC reported in 2005 that the U.S. Army's Fourth PSYOP Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina has done initial character and plot development and will produce the series based on the security forces, military and police, in the near future of the Middle East.

At a later date it was apparently decided to use the civilian Lincoln Group as the manager or contractor to publish the comic books. In 2008 the United States Air Force advertised a solicitation for volumes 16 to 27 of “The Sixth Brigade.” The dollar value of the contract for 12 issues is not to exceed $2,400,000. Lincoln Group would supervise the design, production and distribution of 12 issues of 60,000 comic books per issue for a total of 720,000 comic books. The comic would highlight the professionalism of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) and enhance the public perception of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as a capable, well-trained, and professional fighting force.

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Comic books are presently very popular as PSYOP media. In the Philippines, U.S. Army PSYOP officers have distributed 600,000 copies of the 10-part series, “Barbargsa - Blood of the Honorable.” There are versions in English and in the local dialect. It features “Ameer,” a practitioner of Kuntao, a local form of martial arts. He dons a mask and vows to protect the downtrodden and innocent victims of terrorists. The Philippines military are also portrayed in a positive and heroic light while the villains are called terrorists or bandits. The creators accurately illustrate the Sulu region, and use character names, clothing and mannerisms that reflect the culture of the Tausug ethnic group. It took about 2000 hours to create the 10 comic books.

The project was the brainchild of Maj. Edward Lopacienski, military information support team commander for the joint special operations task force Philippines mission, and the non-commissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt. Russell Snyder. The pair outlined the basic idea in January 2006. The plot follows the battle between good and evil. It depicts real events, specifically the Sulu Co-Op bombing in March 2006, which killed five and injured 40, and the Basilan hostage crisis when members of the Abu Sayyaf Group took school children and used them as human shields.

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Iraqi 36th Commando Patch

In March 2005, Kalev I. Sepp mentioned the Iraqi 36th Commando before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations. He stated that they had been continuously trained for the past year by U.S. Army 5th Special Forces and were considered an elite combat unit. The 36th is mostly made up of Kurdish troops. The comic books depicted here were distributed to Iraqi children by members of the commando unit. Notice that the books show the new Iraqi government police and military as super-heroes. That same sort of image was occasionally used on Coalition propaganda leaflets such as the one we depict below.

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Leaflet 3010

One leaflet that depicts a member of the new Iraqi Army as a lone super hero is coded 3010. The insignia of the new army is at the upper left and on the chest of the soldier. He is pictured fighting terrorists with the text at bottom:

Real Iraqi Heroes

This is an interesting leaflet because I depicted it on another site and was asked to remove it by a military source. I was not told why but was assured that it was important. A 28 September 2007 Stars and Stripes article by Allison Batdorff entitled "Field Marketing in Fallujah" might give the reason why this leaflet was considered unacceptable after production and distribution. She says in part:

Getting into the Iraqi male mind-set requires a shift in focus for the average American. For instance, you wouldn’t self-aggrandize when recruiting Iraqi men to join the local police force. The lone-hero-with-badge-and- gun appeal wouldn’t work here. You would talk about how joining the Iraqi Security Forces would reflect honor on their families, tribes and community. The concept of honor is paramount, instead of emphasizing the individual; it’s the collective that counts.

We will never know for sure if this leaflet erred in depicting the lone hero, but it might explain the official request to remove it.

Pro-Government Integrity Posters

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A number of posters were prepared by the new Iraqi government to support the concept of honesty and integrity. One full-color poster shows a hand holding a can of bug spray killing various insects and spiders. Text on the poster is:

Integrity wipes out corruption.

The Rule of law, Justice, Investigation

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A second poster shows an Iraqi politician or civil servant tempted by bags of money. He turns away and the bags have been set on fire. The text on the poster is:

You can say no!

Favoritism, bribery, rigging, mediocrity, burglary

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The True Arm

This interesting cartoon depicts three skeletons holding forth a flag while the bodies of dead children are at their feet. I find it particularly interesting that the three arms in the circle are very reminiscent of the old Vietnam War peace sign. Is this just a coincidence, or did someone have an ulterior motive? The Text is:

The True Arm
Behind al-Qaida

The skeletons are labeled with the names, code-names or nick-names of terrorists. They are:

The Egyptian
Sheikh Hamed Rasheed)

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The Scales of Justice

I selected this leaflet because it depicts the scales of justice, a symbol of lawfulness and legality. It would be interesting to know if the Iraqis recognized the symbol or if it is uniquely western. The text is:

One Team, One Mission

Engraved on the wall behind the scales:

And if they are judged among the people, then you have judged them with justice.


Prospective PSYOP Leaflets for Iraq

Six years after the United States invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein, a document written by Marshall Billingslea, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and sent to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy became available under the Freedom of Information Act.

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I’m not Hiding any Weapons

The “classified “For Official Use Only” memo was attached to 17 prospective propaganda leaflets to Iraq. The letter bears two handwritten notes that indicate that the both politicians have been underwhelmed by U.S. leaflets and wanted to try something a bit different. The leaflets were not very good and one can see why they were never printed or disseminated.

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Don’t be a Human Shield

The leaflets are all in English and would have been translated to Arabic if disseminated in Iraq. The leaflets fall into six major themes:

Ten leaflets tell the finder to resist the Saddam regime.
Three leaflets warn against using biological or chemical weapons.
One leaflet tells the people not to die for Saddam.
One leaflet warns against destroying Iraqi oil wells.
One leaflet tells the Iraqis not to pollute their own waterways.
One leaflet asks that Iraqis surrender to the Coalition forces.

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Desert, Defect or Surrender

The Coalition did prepare leaflets using every one of the themes above, and for the most part they were quite superior to the ones recommended by the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

The Terrorists Fight On

Well into 2008 the terrorists in Iraq continue to fight a small-scale guerrilla war. Because they have suffered considerable losses when attacking Coalition troops, they mostly attack their fellow Iraqis in an attempt to cause bitterness against the Coalition and surrender to the terrorist cause. During these internal attacks they often distribute printed literature, leaflets and newsletters.

For instance in May 2008, there were two suicide attacks in northern Iraq against members of the Iraqi security forces. In another attack in Mosul, a suicide bomber, driving what appeared to be a police car packed with explosives, drove into a police convoy. In Diyala Province, police said they were finding more and more leaflets in and around the provincial capital of Baquba, threatening death to the security forces and anyone cooperating with them. Police also found leaflets issued by Al Qaida in Mesopotamia, a Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence officials say is foreign-led, and other leaflets from various Shiite militias.

The suicide attacks became one of the most dangerous for the Coalition to defend against. The Americans attempted to counter the situation with a series of 60-second public service announcements shown on Iraq TV. Newsweek reported on a 120-camera shoot, designed to capture simulated carnage and persuade wannabe insurgents to discard their improvised explosive devices:

At least 60 extras dressed in hijabs, kaffiyehs and polyester-wool blend slacks were herded onto the set to simulate an average shopping day…Onlookers were later asked to stand back as the pyrotechnic crew blew up a Yugo coupe and stunt men and women, padded under their Arab garb, were thrust into the air with ropes and pulleys to simulate the impact of a bomb exploding…

Although a military victory was quickly won in Iraq by a conventional American Army, the guerrilla war continues well into 2008. I always believed that Vietnam had taught the U.S. military a valuable lesson that a war cannot be fought piecemeal and that the attack must be made with speed and overwhelming force. However, Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl discusses the inadequacies of the present United States Army tactics in Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian, Osprey Publishing, UK, 2008. He blames the American experience in Vietnam for many of the current problems:

The United States entered the Vietnam War with a military trained and equipped to fight a conventional war in Europe, and totally unprepared for the counterinsurgency campaign it was about to wage…The failed American counterinsurgency efforts in Vietnam are important…The Vietnam hangover resulted in an American unwillingness to think about and prepare for future counterinsurgency campaigns - a failure that led to a 40-year gap in comprehensive American counterinsurgency doctrine and contributed to the American military’s lack of preparedness for fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Internal Propaganda – Just “Fooling Around

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Tim Wallace's "Oops" leaflet

As the Iraqi War continued on well into 2010, many of the PSYOP troops became bored and “An idle mind is the Devils’ Workshop.” In Desert Storm, artist Tim Wallace had prepared a “gag” leaflet for the Ft. Bragg newspaper Paraglide showing Saddam cutting off his own head and saying “Oops.” That did not work out well. Someone saw the leaflet on his desk, had it printed and dropped on the Iraqis. The Iraqi target audience did not have a clue what the leaflet meant.

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Promise that you won’t…

The poster was printed during Iraqi Freedom about 2010. It uses the American commercial figure Smokey the Bear to ask the Iraqis not to stop forest fires, but to:

Promise that you won’t wear a suicide vest, fire a mortar, stockpile weapons or plant IED.

Making fun of their own operations and products, the PSYOP troops warn the Iraqis:

Because if you do…we will litter your community with leaflets.

I am happy to report that none of these posters were dropped on any Iraqis.

Iraqi Propaganda

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Today is same as Yesterday

In the first Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) the Iraqis produced a bit over a dozen propaganda leaflets to use against the Coalition. They were not very good for the most part but many of us searched for them and I probably have all but about two or three. In this second Gulf War the Coalition moved so quickly that the Iraqis did not have time to produce much in the way of propaganda.

Castro says:

Fully knowing the power of PSYOP from the previous Gulf War, the Iraqi government established a special psychological collection committee to monitor and track Coalition leaflets. To counter the American PSYOP, the Iraqi government warned its citizens that if they were caught with any PSYOP material, that they would be executed. Additionally, in an attempt to hijack the American PSYOP efforts, the committee distributed leaflets that imitated the American propaganda.

The leaflet above is Iraqi Propaganda found by the U.S. 10th Mountain Division. It does look slightly American with the smiling soldier holding a weapon against an Iraqi prisoner. Notice that the Iraqis have added a skeleton on the battlefield implying that the Americans bring nothing but death.

PSYOP Problems

Psychological operations did not always run smoothly in Iraq. Some of the problems are mentioned in an article entitled “Psychological Operations in Baghdad” published in Veritas, Volume 2, Number 1, 2006. Author Cherilyn A. Walley discusses the 315th Tactical PSYOP Company from Upland, California, arriving in Baghdad in May of 2003. The company found that due to a fire, all the equipment and product they expected to find had been destroyed. They were also surprised to find that there was no PSYOP guidance. It became clear the unit was on its own and expected to prepare its own plans and product. Worse, the supported maneuver brigades expected immediate results from PSYOP and did not understand that it takes time to cause people to change their attitudes. The American combat commanders wanted PSYOP leaflets for their troops on topics like improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and safety. The PSYOP Company Commander knew that for long-term benefits it needed to produce leaflets of value to the Iraqis to help in nation-building.

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Baghdad Now

The 315th first found an old copying machine and ran off 10,000 low resolution leaflets in three hours. During a later operation where they printed 100,000 leaflets, the plastic components of the copying machine melted. Gradually the PSYOP Company brought everyone around and started producing leaflets for the Iraqis on such nation-building and quality-of-life subjects as mine awareness, good behavior and theft of electrical wiring. As the unit grew accustomed to life in Baghdad they continued to improve their technique and developed the ability to design almost every leaflet that they produced. Because of the lack of equipment, the company contracted with local printers. They used four printing houses and were able on demand to design and distribute about 1.2 handbills and posters a week. The 315th also produced a newspaper along with the First Armored Division entitled Baghdad Now and a magazine called Baghdad Kids.

It seems strange that in this day where PSYOP is so revered, that a unit can find itself almost without equipment or guidance. Yet, the 315th was able to adapt and overcome and perform its mission to standard.

Another problem according to Andrew Garfield; and one that we have heard about for decades is the long time needed for a propaganda campaign to be approved.

The coalition handicaps itself with its own approval process. Senior officials take days if not weeks to clear information operations products, even excellent products developed by Iraqis for their own ethnic groups. To approve an advertisement aimed at the readers of a newspaper with a circulation of less than 50,000—a smaller circulation, for comparison, than the local newspapers in U.S. cities like Lubbock, Texas, and Fargo, North Dakota—numerous information and psychological operation staffs, lawyers, and senior officers up to the rank of three-star generals must approve the text. Imagery of critical events filmed by the coalition's electronic news gathering agents and sent to coalition headquarters in close to real time—which could be used to highlight insurgent atrocities more effectively than a million dollar commercial—take days to win approval, by which time, the window of opportunity is lost.

In May 2003 an Iraqi professional was hired by the U.S. Army as an interpreter. To protect his identity I will just say that he served with a PSYOP Detachment and was called “N.A.” I asked him if he had noticed problems with the American techniques, methods, or translation of propaganda text into Arabic. Every Arab I met had commented on the poor text on the leaflets, often comparing it to a “school child’s” writing. Some of N.A.’s comments were:

I discovered many defects in the processes, techniques, policies and strategies. I tried to comment on those defects in work, and I was always talking to my team about their policies. Unfortunately, many times there was no response to my comments and it appeared as if they just followed the orders of far away commanders who didn't know the real situation.

The printed materials were not so professional. For instance, we disseminated posters of the 55 most wanted figures in the past regime, and those posters either contained low-quality pictures, no pictures at all, or incorrect names. The problem of incorrect Arabic translation or grammar of those materials was obvious most of the time. We were in urgent need of a highly professional radio station and TV station, and the request was ignored. They printed a newspaper called “Baghdad Now” which was regarded as the lowest-quality paper among the gush of free newspapers after the fall of the regime, and the dissemination process was almost always disorganized. The target population was very limited, and they ignored my suggestions to visit schools or colleges or other government facilities and start the propaganda from there, and not through random neighborhoods visits.

These complaints are all understandable and the Army Detachment was certainly following guidance from higher up, but it must have been very depressing for an Iraqi wanting to help the process of independence to find his ideas falling on deaf ears.

On the other hand, an American Army specialist thought that the paper was well written and believed that the Iraqi critic simply did not understand the political considerations that the Americans worked under. He said:

I do not know who your Iraqi source was about the newspaper “Baghdad Now,” but he was either misleading you or simply did not understand the process. Going to educational institutions as the Iraqi recommended was extremely difficult. Most schools did not want you to bring your weapons on to the campus, and when you did they were offended. Showing up at local government institutions would allow the insurgents to claim that the new Iraqi political structure was just an American puppet government.

The commander and command staff did get occasional directives as to what should be in the paper but in general we focused on every part of Baghdad and what we were doing to improve the city.

The staff that worked on the paper included one Egyptian-born American Interpreter (who was an American citizen) and seven local national interpreters (all highly educated). Each article was written by an American, translated by a local national and then reviewed by other local nationals and then by the American Interpreter. Then, an independent pre-production review was performed by the printer.

There were issues in the beginning, mostly software and infrastructure related. The distribution process also had some early problems. The paper was printed for a while in Jordan due to the local printer’s lack of equipment. It was then trucked to Baghdad and distributed to each Tactical PSYOP Team for dissemination. Each team delivered the paper to local markets and passed them out by hand.

As for radio, television, and other media sources, that was covered as well. Other PSYOP personnel ran the radio station, and after that team left the local radio station still played messages from the Commanding General and broadcast PSYOP information. We did not do much with television. Most of the locals had satellite TV and would watch that rather than air band. 

One Veteran PSYOP specialist told me some of the things he thought were problems during Operation Iraqi Freedom:

The biggest issue was the lack of cultural awareness by some of the decision makers. There would be multi-panel cartoons that had to be resubmitted for approval because they could not grasp the concept of reading right to left...or let their own western bias help decide how to approach a visual solution (like asking to use a lion to indicate 'pride').

You probably have come across inconsistencies in the translations and that would not be surprising. Often there were debates about not only what type of interpretation there should be (informal/formal) but there was always an air of uncertainty that the translators we were hiring downrange were being truthful in their efforts.

Early on the biggest challenge was the lack of source material, Googling Desert Storm pics for references, trying to find a certain model of equipment that is normally employed...the internet was not as vast back then and neither were the ways to gather such information. Combine that with the cultural ignorance that was prevalent, and you get Yemeni soldiers in gas masks on leaflets, or copyrighted photos of families that were not even from Iraq.

One frustration that really stuck, was the constant request to show arrested terrorists. When you deal with an enemy that does not have a uniform, what do they look like? Everyday people! What do captured terrorists look like? They look like ordinary zip-tied civilians with bags over their heads. It was a paradox that annoyed me no end. The best we could do was photoshop a weapon on the ground next to them to give the idea that it was taken away and they were being detained for a reason.

For the longest time there were efforts to make sure not to show too anything graphic, no skulls, no blood, etc. Over time it relaxed a tad. The concerns were that they did not want to make anyone a martyr or embolden adversaries. Worrying about 'what ifs' was common. They were always worried that the terrorists were going to flip the product over and write their own message on the back. That is why you see that grid pattern on the other side of products that don't have two images.

A final problem is mentioned in the Rand Report Why the Iraqi Resistance to the Coalition Invasion Was So Weak

American PSYOPS had little effect on rank-and-file troops in some areas, because of a lack of radio receivers and Iraqi security  countermeasures. An Iraqi colonel, whose unit was in Amarah in southern Iraq near the Iranian border, reported that PSYOP radio broadcasts warning Iraqi soldiers not to fight and instructing them on how to surrender were rarely heard, since few troops owned radios

Similarly, the colonel reported that his troops had had little exposure to PSYOP leaflets because Iraqi military intelligence and  Mukhabarat internal security agents scooped them up first: "The soldiers would see them fall, but were not allowed to read them, the  Army has lots of Baath infiltrators, which kept a tight grip and collected those quickly."

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Staff Sergeant Rob Castrillo

Staff Sergeant Rob Castrillo was a team leader for the 3rd Platoon, 101 Military Police Company of the 101st Airborne Division. He deployed to Kuwait before the start of hostilities and when the war started his unit drove day and night escorting convoys up the main route towards Baghdad. After Baghdad, his unit pushed north to Mosul and then to Tal Afar where they ran reconnaissance missions. At one point he was attached to the 2nd battalion, 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in Sinjar. He found that the missions he performed were not regular Military Police doctrine and were mostly special operations and PSYOP type tasks. He described his experiences in Iraq:

After reaching the North West region, we were deployed on numerous route reconnaissance type missions. Our job was to poke around until we found the enemy. Later, we were assigned to go to Iraqi police stations, train them, study their methods and then pay for those items they needed to do their jobs. I would go to a police station, build rapport, and find out what they needed to repair their station.  I also would suggest training and taught the very first Iraqi Police Academy in Sinjar, Iraq.  After all that was over, we would see who they had warrants for and try to help them make arrests.

Not only did I visit the local police stations, but I would meet with local Sheiks, have dinner with them and talk about the community, politics, and the new Iraq. I was sympathetic, polite, and always willing to see what I could do for the Iraqis that I worked with. I tried to win the hearts and minds of the people rather than use overwhelming force and fear.  I think it is very important to be respectful and blend in with their community.  Not all soldiers can do this.   There are many well trained non-commissioned officers who cannot flip the switch from PSYOP to Direct Action missions. Some NCOs would swear and direct negative body language to the Iraqis.  They didn't like our PSYOP mission and probably provided more negative impact than positive.

When you build rapport with residents and sheiks they trust you and believe in you.  When you are hands on, you build respect.  I worked side by side with the locals. It wasn’t a case of “What can I do for you,” and then send in an infantry or engineer company. I believe it's much better if you do it yourself. It makes you credible. I was treated very well, especially in one anti-American town. The sheik guaranteed our safety in a town where other U.S. soldiers had lost their lives. I believe that the mutual trust and respect between us kept our squad safe. I enjoyed my missions with the PSYOP troops in Iraq.  PSYOP is definitely the tip of the spear in a combat theater as far as I'm concerned.

Rob told me that from his working with PSYOP troops there were certain things that he felt needed to be addressed. Some of his suggestions that he hoped would be considered as a “lessons learned” were:

The average PSYOP soldier should be trained more efficiently to conduct the missions they are tasked to do. One of the first things that I saw in Iraq was the lack of Direct Action training in the PSYOP squads. They were well armed but lacked many of the basic skills that would have freed up their security detail to be more proactive. The military police up-armored Hummers were very intimidating to the enemy, but the PSYOP teams appeared vulnerable with their soft skinned hummers. The PSYOP teams needed more infantry skills, forward observer training (so they could call in air strikes when needed), some emergency medical technician and explosive ordnance disposal training, and advanced communication skills. 

By coincidence, one day before I spoke to Rob I was contacted by the program manager for of a private contractor in who was supporting the Special Warfare Center by supplying personnel to analyze the current state of PSYOP training. I told him basically the same thing that Rob told me, but in lesser detail:

I have received similar training requests in the past from the Army. In the old days battle skills were taught in basic training, then technical skills in advanced individual training. There has been a very definite mission creep in past years because of the urban type of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq and we see more battle skills taught in AIT. The result is that students leave with a military occupational specialty and probably not as thorough knowledge of their actual job as before. I suspect the final answer will be a return to the old technical MOS training, followed by a short (NCO Academy style) 2-3 week advanced military skills course. I think it is important that when a PSYOP soldier graduates AIT he be an expert in his field and to spend time of anything other than those skills is counterproductive.      

The manager answered:

Thanks for the comments – it reinforces all that I have managed to read about the state of things and confirms what I have heard – we may have been doing it right at one point but we seem to have lost the vector to make the training relevant to the war fighter of today. 

Some Possible Black Operations

Daniel Schulman discussed possible black operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom in an article entitled “Mind Games,” published in The Columbia Journalism Review. There is no proof that any of these operations were “Black,” but they are interesting to study, if they actually happened. For instance, he notes that anonymous British and American military officials reported the mass surrender of Iraq’s 51st Division. They claimed that:

Hordes of Iraqi soldiers, underfed and overwhelmed, surrendered Friday in the face of a state-of-the-art allied assault. An entire division gave itself up to the advancing allied forces. The division was taken out of the fight for Basra.

Two days later, coalition troops were still clashing with units of the 51st Division in Basra. General Khaled Saleh al-Hashimi stated on Al Jezeera television that he and the 8,000 men under his command were still fighting to protect the city and the people.

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner believes that the story of the mass capitulation was part of a black PSYOP campaign to convince other units in Iraq that troops were giving up en masse so there was no reason to resist. Gardiner concludes that the flow of misinformation to the press was no accident. It was a well-coordinated campaign, intended not only to confound Iraqi combatants but to shape perceptions of the war back home. Gardiner recorded this and a number of other such operations and was allegedly told later by a spokesman for the Chiefs of Staff that such disinformation campaigns were designed and run by civilians and not the military.

In a technical paper entitled Truth from the Podia he states that there were over 50 stories manufactured or engineered that distorted the picture of Gulf War II for the American and British people. Some examples are; Iraqi nuclear material from Niger, Nuclear weapons development, the execution of Allied prisoners, The Iraqi link to 9/11 terrorists and the holding of LTC Scott Speicher in solitary confinement since the First Gulf War to be tortured by Saddam Hussein at his leisure. Colonel Gardiner says that he is not suggesting a conspiracy, just that well intentioned officials found out how to control the process of government in ways never before possible.

On the subject of pilot Speicher it should be noted that the administration cynically changed his status from “killed in action” to “missing in action” as part of a campaign to build war fury against Iraq by implying that Saddam was secretly torturing the American pilot. In 2009, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology reportedly identified the remains of the pilot who was shot down over the Iraq desert on the first night of the war. The information came from Iraqi citizens that led searchers to a place in the desert believed to be the crash site - and there they found the remains.

On 9 May 2005, the Washington Post reported that more than 1,000 Marines backed by Cobra helicopter gunships and F-18 jets attacked targets in a region of northwestern Iraq that commanders called a sanctuary for foreign fighters. As many as 100 insurgents were killed and 10 captured in the assault near the Syrian border, which began late on the night of 8 May. The assault was centered on the town of Ubaydi, in an area along the Syrian border where foreign guerrillas have frequently crossed into Iraq to join the insurgency. The Marines believe that foreign fighters often stop in the desolate region after crossing from Syria, to be armed and get assigned to missions in Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul and Baghdad. At the same time, in Baghdad, a prominent Sunni Muslim political organization, The National Dialogue Council, said that its headquarters were raided. The U.S. Embassy claimed that no American forces took part in the raid. It was believed that the attack might have been provoked by a group seeking to disrupt political negotiations by alleging ties between the Dialogue Council and insurgents. Leaflets strewn around the council's office bore photos of a burning building that appeared to be the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad that was bombed in August 2003. The leaflet text is:

If you helped Zarqawi or his group, your house will be the next.

The use of PSYOP integrated with combat forces during raids and search operations proved to be a force multiplier. For instance, before entering a building, the PSYOP troops had scripts written for the loudspeaker team and preprinted leaflets prepared for dissemination. Most civilians would leave the building when they heard the loudspeaker message. In some cases there was so much internal noise from air conditioners and other machinery that the loudspeaker message was not understood. Rather than immediately breech the building by force, the PSYOP team could then place the preprinted leaflets against the windows so the occupants could read them. The leaflet explained what was happening and the actions the resident was expected to take to be cooperative. This integration proved to be far less stressful on both the Iraqi civilians and the Coalition combat troops.

An interesting look at the war in Iraq is found in Is There an “Emboldenment” Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq, Radha Iyengar and Jonathan Monten, Harvard University, February 2008. Discussing the causes and problems of the insurgency they say in part:  

The Iraqi insurgency has steadily grown in size and capability since 2003, and has generated a consistent level of violence through shootings, indirect fire (such as mortar attacks), kidnappings, and bombings (ranging from improvised explosive devices to large-scale suicide attacks).

On the Sunni side, the insurgency is driven by former Ba'ath party elements, particularly from the former military and paramilitary security services, who seek to return to power and fear oppression under a Shia-dominated state, nationalists who object to the U.S. occupation, and religious extremists. The Sunni insurgency is also driven by foreign volunteers, most notably those linked to al Qaida. Although Al-Qaida is frequently blamed for a disproportionate number of insurgent attacks, best military estimates place its membership at most at 15% of total insurgent manpower.

On the Shia side, anti-government violence is driven primarily by large militia groups. These groups include both nationalists seeking to eject the United States from Iraq, rival factions that oppose the particular Shia coalition represented in the national government, and organized militias responding to heightened violence by the Sunni insurgency.

Initially, the United States sought to crush the insurgency by using “search and destroy” missions and overwhelming firepower to capture and kill suspected combatants, but failed to “hold” areas after they had been cleared.

In January 2005, the United States introduced a new strategy document which shifted the general approach to a “clear, hold, and build” strategy, ensuring the security of the wider population, and building the capacity of the ISF, including a national military and a civilian police force (both national and local), to which the United States could transfer security responsibility.

After months of escalating violence, the U.S. expanded the basic logic behind this approach in a “surge” of 20,000 troops beginning in Spring 2007, concentrated primarily in Baghdad. The new strategy also included the full adoption the “clear, hold, and build” counterinsurgency doctrine under General David Petreaus, which stressed population security, holding and reconstructing areas that had been cleared of insurgent activity, and training local forces.

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Reward Leaflets dropped south of Baghdad

Although leaflet and loudspeaker operations continue to be used in Iraq on a regular basis, occasionally there is a special campaign that bears noting. On 12 May 2007, Iraqi terrorists ambushed a regular Army patrol that daily checked the roads for mines and improvised explosive devices outside Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. Four soldiers of the New York State based 10th Mountain Division were killed and three were believed taken captive in the pre-dawn raid. This led directly to one of the largest searches since the invasion of Iraq, with a general “lock-down” of the entire section known as the “Triangle of death,” and continual house-to-house searches by 4,000 U.S. troops and 2,000 Iraqi troops.

As part of the plan to entice Iraqis to inform on the terrorists and identify the location of the missing soldiers, the U.S. military offered a substantial reward for information. According to various press sources, on 16 May the military dropped about 150,000 leaflets from helicopters in the region south of Baghdad and about 50,000 leaflets over Owesat Village near where the soldiers disappeared. The offer was also broadcast over loudspeakers.

The leaflet is apparently brightly colored in yellow and red with the following text: 


Up to 252 million Iraqi Dinars 

It’s your turn to lend a helping hand to those who have worked so hard for you.  

Help us return these kidnapped Coalition Force soldiers safely to their families. 

Report any information to 0790-443-3095 and you may be rewarded. For your safety you may remain anonymous. 

Call the tips line at: 0790-173-7723, 0790-173-7724, 0790-173-7725, 0790-173-7726, 130. 

The leaflet also bears an e-mail address which we will not print. 

On the date of the offer 252 million Iraqi dinars (IQD) were worth exactly $199,967.30 in U.S. funds. It seems clear that the military wanted to offer a $200 thousand dollar reward and this number was thus chosen in Iraqi currency.

We will continue to update as data becomes available.


I should mention that on several occasions I received mail from officers mentioning their problems and asking if I might comment on how my article on the Chieu Hoi program of Vietnam might be used in Iraq and Afghanistan. I gave them the best advice I could, but of course, every case is different.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Raymond A. Millen mentions the insurgency and American attempts at reconciliation in his 2020 US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute paper: Death by a Thousand Cuts: Weakening an Insurgency through a National Reconciliation Program Three Case Studies: Malaya, Vietnam, and Iraq:

During the initial stages of the insurgency in Iraq in the fall of 2003, Sunni insurgents formed an alliance with al Qaeda foreign fighters to compel the withdrawal of US coalition forces from Iraq and to reestablish Sunni control of the government. While US coalition forces had inflicted a number of defeats and heavy losses on Sunni and al Qaeda insurgents from 2003 to 2006, these factors alone did not prompt Sunni overtures for reconciliation. Local coalition offers of amnesty, reintegration, and stipends persuaded tens of thousands of Sunni insurgents to surrender peacefully, fight against al Qaeda and contribute to security in general.

However, once General David Petraeus assumed command of the Multi-National Force—Iraq, he instructed commanders at all levels to encourage reconciliation with Sunni tribes. During the 2007-2008 Surge, senior US commanders strove to gain the Iraqi government’s acceptance of the Awakening and eventual reconciliation with Sunni tribes. Accordingly, subordinate commanders arranged ceasefires, the surrender of weapons, employment in the police, and local alliances against irreconcilable insurgents. Moreover, using Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funding, the coalition employed 100,000 Iraqi volunteers (Sons of Iraq) to fight against the insurgents.

Rehabilitation Programs: Task Force 134 built a Theater Internment Facility Reintegration Center in each detention compound to provide educational and vocational opportunities for males, females, children, and the mentally challenged. Basic education instruction focused on literacy, math, and religion. Due to the popular demand, the program added courses on “history, science, civics, and geography.” Camp Cropper was fortunate to have a National Guard officer who was a former school administrator. He based classes on the Iraqi education model, with three hours of instruction and one hour of sports (e.g., soccer) per day. Up to thirty moderate clerics taught religion, and literacy courses enabled inmates to read the Koran personally instead of relying solely on cleric sermons. Graduates of the religion courses attended a ceremony with the top student receiving a personal Koran. Practically all Iraqis were grateful for the educational opportunities offered in the centers.


Although PSYOP continues to be used in Iraq and the final numbers are not in, we do have some data on the campaign. For instance, the original themes used in Coalition leaflets for Iraq included encouragement to desert, warnings not to use weapons of mass destruction, warnings not destroy the oil infrastructure, warnings not to damage the environment, and instructions on civilian safety and non-interference. During the pre-war period, a total of 20,000,000 leaflets were dropped over Iraq. In the first ten days after the fighting started the Coalition disseminated 15,000,000 leaflets. By 30 April 2003 31,800,000 leaflets had been dropped over Iraq. There were 158 dedicated leaflets missions; 32 by A-10 Thunderbolt II, 34 by B-52 Stratofortress, 24 by F18C Hornet, and 68 by F-16CJ Fighting Falcon. In addition, 108 different radio messages were produced and broadcast by Operation Iraqi Freedom personnel. The total number of leaflets dropped over Iraq by 3 November 2003 was 155,282,488. Of those, 122,500,000 were dropped in 2,042 of the older M129 bombs. 11,040,000 were dropped in 184 of the newer PDY-5B units. 13,271,700 were dropped in break-away boxes. Helicopters dropped another 1,307,200. The rest of the leaflets were disseminated by other means. As of May 2005 it is believed that more than 430 different PSYOP leaflets have been disseminated in Iraq.

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Reward Handout IZG8739

The front of the leaflet depicts a mosque and weapons. The text is:

Ansar-al-Islam and other terrorist groups threaten the stability of free Iraq for you and your family. Make your nation safe, for you and your family by informing on any terrorist activity or any arms unlawful hideouts to the Iraqi police or Army.

The back has a short all-text message:

You can have a Reward if you have information that leads to arrest of terrorists or extremists.

Leaflet IZD-2512

This black and white leaflet has four photographs of dead terrorists or burning terrorist weapon systems on the front, all covered with a "prohibition" or "no" symbol. There are four sentences in the center of the leaflet. They are:

The Coalition forces will liberate Iraqi citizens

Do your best to help liberate Iraq

Do not steal or do revengeful or violent acts Put your disagreements aside until Iraq is stable and until Iraq is rebuilt again

The back of the leaflet has four photographs of happy Iraqi children and two sentences:

The coalition forces are fully committed to do right and the liberation of Iraq

You can participate in this effort by giving humanitarian support to help the Iraqi people

During the Consolidation period in Iraq the themes changed to rewards for Saddam Hussein and other important figures of his regime and information on weapons of mass destruction. There were requests that the Iraqis involve themselves in the rebuilding of their nation, that students return to school, publicity about the new monetary system and dinar exchange, and that the Coalition would remain until Iraq was safe and secure environment and a new representative government.

As we write this section five years into the long drawn-out war, there really is no conclusion. There is still some debate about why the United States attacked Iraq and the inability of U.S. forces to discover weapons of mass destruction makes it even more difficult to explain. We know that Saddam had them at one time, and we know that he claimed to still have them to keep Israel and Iran at bay, but it appears that he thought that the U.S. needed him as a bulwark against Iran and would never attack him in force. He believed that the CIA would defend him. We will never know if the CIA told the White House that they did or did not believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or if they kept their suspicions secret. We will never know if George Bush believed the CIA (if told) or decided that they were wrong. There is some question about Saddam’s ties to terrorism and some arguments have been made that he was not part of the terrorist network.

However, this changed in September 2003 when the Institute for Defense Analyses published the operational and strategic lessons from Operation Iraqi Freedom from the perspectives of former senior Iraqi decision-makers. It interviewed captured prisoners and reviewed translations of enemy documents and media archives. The researchers were able to report on the inner workings-and sometimes delusional behavior of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Iraqi Perspectives Project research team screened more than 600,000 original captured documents and several thousand hours of audio and video footage archived in a US Department of Defense (DOD) database called “Harmony.” The classified paper, entitled Iraqi Perspectives - Project Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents said in regard to Saddam Hussein’s willingness to use terrorism as a tool:

In the years between the two Gulf Wars, UN sanctions reduced Saddam's ability to shape regional and world events, steadily draining his military, economic, and military powers. The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam's "coercion" toolbox, not only cost effective but a formal instrument of state power. Saddam nurtured this capability with an infrastructure supporting (1) his own particular brand of state terrorism against internal and external threats, (2) the state sponsorship of suicide operations, and (3) organizational relationships and "outreach programs" for terrorist groups. Evidence that was uncovered and analyzed attests to the existence of a terrorist capability and a willingness to use it until the day Saddam was forced to flee Baghdad by Coalition forces.

There are hundreds of reports of Saddam using terrorists, both home-grown and trained and outsiders in attacks against perceived enemies, movements, and the leaders of other governments that he found threatening.

A quick word about the cost of Iraqi Freedom. Operation Desert Shield and Storm was a terrible precedent for the United States of America because it was one of those very rare cases when other nations paid the vast bulk of the costs. The United States got most of its oil from Saudi Arabia so had no great reason to rush to the defense of Kuwait. However, both Germany and Japan did use Kuwaiti oil, and many of the Arab nations were willing to pay to help Kuwait free itself from the Iraqi yoke. I recall at the time that there was a joke that if the U.S. Army built a security fence in Arkansas the bill would be sent to Saudi Arabia. It was a joke, but there was the germ of truth in it. As a result, future wars (like Iraqi Freedom) would be fought by a United States with the belief that much of the cost would be picked up by Iraqi oil sales and other friendly nations. This turned out to be a futile hope. In the case of the first Persian Gulf War under President George H. W. Bush, the cost was 61.1 billion dollars and 53.7 billions were paid by Saudi Arabia (16.8), Kuwait (16.1), Japan (10.0), Germany (6.6), United Arab Emirates (4.1), and other nations (0.4)

In the case of President George W. Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 15 October 2008 Congressional Research Service Report to Congress: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Global War or Terror Operations since 9/11 gives a number of $657 billion dollars spent. The United States paid the bulk of the costs of this war and it probably helped do serious damage to the American economy.

United States began moving combat troops out of Iraq in 2010. On 1 September 2010, Operation Iraqi Freedom became Operation New Dawn.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a memo that the name change, which followed the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, will send a strong signal that American forces have a new mission. He also said it reinforces the U.S. commitment to honor its security agreement with Iraq and recognizes “our evolving relationship” with the government there.

1 May 2003, President Bush had made a speech in which he had implied that the mission was accomplished in regard to the invasion of Iraq. He was lambasted by the press that pointed out that fighting was still going on.

On 1 September 2010, President Obama made a similar speech, in which he said in part:

From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq. Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency…Tonight I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over; and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.

At the time of the speech over 50,000 American troops in seven “Advise and Assist Brigades” were still deployed to Iraq as well as two National Guard infantry brigades, two combat aviation brigades and about 4,000 Special Forces soldiers. 

Five days after President Obama officially ended combat operations and stated that Iraq could now defend itself, American troops were forced to take part in the defense of an Iraqi military headquarters in the center of Baghdad in which 18 people were killed and 39 wounded. The U.S. also dispatched helicopters, bomb disposal experts, drones and other unnamed forces. It is clear that American troops remaining in Iraq will be involved in firefights until all are finally returned home.

One soldier stationed in Iraq wrote immediately after the changeover:

A few people have asked me if I left Iraq early because all of the combat troops are out of Iraq. The newspapers are saying that the last of the "combat" troops are gone. Take our Brigade for example.  We were originally called a Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT).  All they did was change our name from a HBCT to an Advise and Assist Brigade (AAB ). We have the same personnel and equipment as before and are doing the exact same missions. It's funny how the media is buying into this.  So, no, the last combat troops are not out of Iraq, we are still here doing the same things with just a changed name.

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As part of the Iraqi takeover of their own military duties the Department of Defense reported that they were being taught to prepare and disseminate their own PSYOP. The report said in part:

U.S. Army soldiers from the 399th PSYOP(-) and 24 Iraqi soldiers, police and federal police gathered for a six-day class at Forward Operating Base Diamondback, Sept. 18-23. The class focused on developing the Iraqis’ skills in information dissemination operations.

The class covered a variety of topics: developing ideas for information dissemination operations using loudspeakers, DVDs, television or leaflets; pretesting the products’ effectiveness through focus groups and interviews; creating and distributing the product; and post testing the product to determine its effect on the target audience.

The training was punctuated with video and audio clips that demonstrated effective uses of IDO. Practical exercises, such as creating mock leaflets and recording loudspeaker messages, allowed the Iraqis to practice what they had learned during the class.

Additionally, the training offered ideas about using different media outlets. Most of these Iraqis have distributed leaflets, but have not capitalized on other vital media outlets in their information dissemination operations.

The War Ends

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Casing the flag – Courtesy of NBC News

On 15 December 2011 the war in Iraq officially ended. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that veterans of the nearly nine-year conflict can be:

Secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside.

After nearly nine years of war, 4,486 U.S. soldiers dead, (3,526 from combat and 960 from non-combat causes), another 32,226 wounded and at a cost of $800 billion dollars, the war that began with a “Shock and Awe” campaign and later descended into a bloody sectarian struggle between the oppressed majority Shiites Muslims and their former Sunni Muslim masters is officially over. During the Coalition occupation the Iraqi security forces grew from zero to 650,000-strong. The question now is whether those security forces can keep the peace, or will a massive influx of Shiites from Iran turn Iraq into a Muslim fundamentalist country.

The author encourages readers who may have additional information or personal experiences with psychological operation during Operation Iraqi Freedom to write him at sgmbert@hotmail.com

The Leaflets Keep Coming

Two years after the end of the war one might assume that we have seen all the leaflets that were prepared. Not so. In late December of 2013 a small group of leaflets appeared. They had probably been brought back by a soldier and just now came to light. They all seem to be consolidation leaflets, designed to help stabilize the new Iraq. Some are quite beautiful so we add them here.

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IZG 32545

Like some leaflets we saw earlier in this article, this one is in the form of a gummed sticker. A loyal Iraqi could place this on a table or a wall or wherever people congregate. The sticker depicts a map of Iraq and a key on a ring. The text on the leaflet in Arabic is:

The Iraqis are the key to the new government

The key ring has the additional text in English:

Property of the Iraqi People.

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This leaflet is designed to build confidence in the new Iraqi Army. It depicts a soldier on guard. The image on the front and back are the same. The text is:

The soldiers of the Third Division of the Iraqi Army protect our future

Victory and perseverance is our promise to the new Iraq

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IZAA (unreadable)

This leaflet depicts hand placing a ballot in a ballot box on the front and the text:


You carry the future of Iraq in your hands


The back of the leaflet depicts a smiling Iraqi citizen and the text:

To build a strong Iraq - Vote

We don’t know much about this leaflet, and it seems to have been distributed about 2012. We assume it is American and note that it bears no code. It is a handsome leaflet and promises to protect those Muslims who wish to pray in peace. The leaflet is printed on a plastic paper which means it will be protected from the sun and the rain and will keep its shape and color for a long time. It is larger than usual at about 8 x 4.75-inches. The text on front and back is:

Iraqi security forces are working hard for your safety during the blessed holidays and wish all of Iraq a month full of peace and forgiveness.

To ensure your safety in the blessed month of Ramadan, we will continue carrying out further military operations, which are important to get rid of armed terrorist groups and to prevent their barbaric criminal operations. Please be patient while these operations are carried out.

Kuwait Thanks the United States

The Kuwaitis were very gracious after the United States drove Iraq out of their country in 1991 under Operation Desert Storm. When the United States finally overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein during Operation Iraqi Freedom, they once again thanked the United States. To receive thanks from a foreign nation is very rare. Kuwait is one of few nations in recent times that recognized the sacrifice made by another nation.

Part of a picture album displayed on the 20th anniversary of the start of the war. In 2006 an American sergeant dragged another Marine to safety moments after he was shot by a sniper during a patrol with the Iraqi Army in Anbar Province on Oct. 31.

Todd Heisler
The Rocky Mountain News

On 20 March 2023 the 20th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom was mentioned in several newspapers and news sites. We saw comments like:

Estimates place the overall civilian death toll of the war between 100,000 and 500,000, with millions more displaced. At least 8,000 Americans died amid the initial invasion and subsequent occupation and counterinsurgency. Analysts estimate the war's overall cost at roughly $2.5 Trillion dollars. Roughly 2,500 US personnel are stationed in Iraq today in mostly advisory roles. The U.S. troops are scattered around the country, largely in military installations in Baghdad and in the north. And while it is a far cry from the more than 170,000 U.S. forces in Iraq at the peak of the war in 2007, U.S. officials say the limited — but continued troop level is critical as a show of commitment to the region and a hedge against Iranian influence and weapons trafficking.

Fake Coalition Leaflets on the HBO-BBC series, House of Saddam

In 2008, a co-production between BBC Television and HBO Films produced a 4-part series covering the life of Saddam Hussein from His takeover of Iraq, through Operation Desert Storm, and ending in Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the end of the second segment, Coalition aircraft drop propaganda leaflets on Iraq and Saddam Hussein is depicted picking up and looking at it. An obvious error is that the leaflet is written In English which would make it mostly worthless in Arabic-speaking Iraq. Clearly the producers wanted the viewers to be able to read the leaflet so went along with the English language text which was:

People of Iraq, rise up against Saddam.

Later in the fourth and final segment of the series, Saddam is hiding with two of his servants in a small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. One of his aides returns from town and tells him that the Americans are putting up posters on every wall. The poster depicts a photo of Saddam and offers 25 million dollars for information leading to his arrest. Saddam does not seem worried. He believes the people of Iraq are loyal and love their leader.

Having seen most all the leaflets from these two wars, I think I can safely say that no genuine leaflet was used as an example. They were both thought up by Hollywood and printed without any input from military or PSYOP specialists. Leaflets were also used as props in the WWII-themed films Battleground and Dunkirk and both of those are very close to real German leaflets.

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The Iraqis are not the neatest leafleteers in the world, but they somehow get the job done!

The author encourages readers who may have additional information or personal experiences with psychological operation during Operation Iraqi Freedom to write him at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.

More On Operation Iraqi Freedom Leaflets