pvanagtmael pvanagtmael

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Peter van Agtmael  Photographer with Magnum Photos @magnumphotos

Im interviewed in this piece on the legacy of the Iraq war with Moises...link in profile...

Hand dryer

Mosul, Iraq. From my book, Disco Night Sept 11. Link in profile.
An Iraqi civilian wounded in the head by an IED is treated at the scene by an American medic before being taken to the local hospital. It had been an unusually violent day mixing absurdity with danger. On one patrol a turret gunner scanning the streets shouted for the Stryker to stop. Several soldiers leapt out and began frisking a man dressed in a woman’s black abaya and wearing makeup. An agitated vendor shouted at the soldiers that the man lived in the neighborhood and always dressed like a woman. The soldiers released him and moved on.
Minutes later there were gunshots. The soldiers followed the sound to a quiet street. On the ground lay the body of an Iraqi policeman in civilian clothing. He’d been executed in a drive-by shooting while returning from work. He’d almost gotten home. His family clutched at his body, wailing and ripping at their clothes, collapsing in despair at his side.
The American soldiers began fanning out and kicking in doors to neighboring buildings. The terrified residents denied witnessing anything. The soldiers became increasingly angry. When they saw two teenagers smirking at them from down the street, they grabbed them and shoved them roughly against a wall. A sergeant pulled out his pistol and pressed it against one young man’s head while the platoon commander yelled threats. I hesitated to photograph the scene. I was angry at the brutal death of the policeman and had become sympathetic to the American soldiers I was living and patrolling with. By the time I raised my camera the moment had passed.

Blast walls surrounding living quarters at Camp Liberty, part of a network of American bases around Baghdad International Airport. At its peak, the complex housed about a quarter of the total force in Iraq: forty-two thousand soldiers and twenty thousand support staff.
On most large U.S. bases enlisted soldiers lived two to a room in a network of trailers surrounded by high concrete blast barriers and sandbags. Army deployments typically lasted twelve to fifteen months, and soldiers tried to make their quarters as comfortable as possible. Posters of women were torn from FHM and Maxim and pasted on the walls. Pornography was officially forbidden but readily available. One Kurdish translator spent his off-hours trying to get Korean girls he’d met online to strip for him over webcam. The large bases had PXs selling TVs, video-game consoles, CDs and DVDs. The dining facilities offered dozens—sometimes hundreds—of food options. Crab legs, fried shrimp and steak were served every week at all but the most remote outposts. There were small stores run by Turkish contractors selling bootleg DVDs, cheap furniture, rugs and local kitsch: elaborately jeweled knives, supposedly antique muskets and anything with Saddam Hussein’s face on it. There was a Harley-Davidson outlet, offering reasonable financing rates and promising delivery upon return from the war.

Sergeant Jackson rested in the living room while his platoon searched the rest of the house for a suspected insurgent. They found nothing suspicious, and the commander assumed he had received bad intelligence. Most of the raids I witnessed were dry holes. Before leaving, the commanding officer would occasionally compensate for damage by pressing a wad of soiled dinars or dollars into wary hands. Usually the platoon would leave without an apology to continue searching for their target, or return to base before insurgents had the chance to organize and attack.

March For Our Lives in New York for @voguemagazine. #marchforourlives @magnumphotos

March For Our Lives #marchforourlives in New York for @voguemagazine . @magnumphotos

Hi folks, I’m teaching a project incubator workshop in Amsterdam from 4/10-4/12 in partnership with MAGNUM And LensCulture. Along with some great speakers I’ll be teaching the steps to help you fully realize your projects. I’ll also be launching a new free Magnum project that I’ve been working on the past few months. Please join us! Link in profile.

Outside Mosul, Iraq. 2006. Soldiers raided a hamlet on the outskirts of Mosul after midnight on a winter weekend. Iraqi soldiers guarded the perimeter while a line of American soldiers moved up silently outside each house. A soldier kicked in the door and stood aside. The others entered with weapons raised, scanning the room rapidly with their flashlights and yelling commands in English and broken Arabic. A young family had been sleeping, and the dirt floor was a tangle of blankets and thin mattresses. A soldier grabbed the Iraqi closest to the door and shoved him against the wall, forcing his arms behind his back. As he held his prisoner there, the soldier complained that the scene was bound to be misrepresented by a photograph taken out of context. A second Iraqi awoke with a start and fumbled for something under the blanket. Hawk, the unit’s Kurdish interpreter, took several long steps and punched him sharply in the face, dazing him. Another soldier slammed him to the ground. A search of the compound turned up a cache of weapons and explosive materials. Three men were detained.

Mosul. Iraq. 2006. I was sleeping in a nearby Army base when the echo of an explosion from Mosul startled me awake. I walked over to the motor pool as a column of Stryker armored vehicles rolled in. A few men hurried past me, their faces tightly drawn. I joined the next patrol heading into town and was told there had been a suicide bombing. Nine people had been killed and twenty-three wounded in a crowded café during the breakfast hour. The Strykers stopped down the street from the blast site, and we walked to the gaping hole in the block of buildings. The soldiers had stopped by the Abu-Ali restaurant many times for sugary tea or a chat with the friendly owner. Now bits of flesh and scorched food, splinters of furniture and crockery choked the floor. The streets were empty except for a few curious bystanders. The patrol moved to the hospital to check on the victims. Ali, the owner, lay on one of the beds. Only his nose and lips were visible beneath the bandages, and they were caked in dried blood. He did not survive the day.

Outside Mosul. 2006. Now 15 years of war.

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