An Ambush in Karbala

Five U.S. soldiers died in a brazen attack last winter. Did Iraqi officials aid the killers? A TIME investigation

Yuri Kozyrev for TIME

Staff Sgt. Billy Wallace, a survivor of the Karbala attack on Jan. 20, sits at Forward Operating Base Iskan. The U.S. outpost is sprawled around a power plant outside of Iskandariyah, Iraq.

The five sport-utility vehicles sat abandoned in the darkness. A faint beeping sound signaled that their doors were open. Some of the Iraqi police who arrived at the scene initially feared going near the cars, thinking the sound meant they were rigged to explode. Finally a few ventured closer. In the back of two of the vehicles were the four Americans. One of them was alive, though barely. Handcuffed, he had been shot in the back of the head, but he was breathing. The other soldiers were already dead. One had taken bullets in both legs and his right hand, and...

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