The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


UN Headquarters Compound

The Baghdad office of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) provided the required communications and logistical support in the field. The Baghdad office, the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC), was responsible for the maintenance and operation of the monitoring system and also housed Baghdad-based inspection teams.

On August 19, 2003, at 4:45 p.m. local time, a truck bomb exploded outside the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad. The top United Nations envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian national, was killed during the explosion. Trapped inside the rubble of the damaged building, Mr. Vieira de Mello had been able to communicate via his cellular telephone before dying of his injuries. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he was 55 and was a 33 year veteran of numerous UN peacekeeping operations from the Balkans to East Timor to Africa. Benon Sevan, director of the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq, was also injured while giving a press conference at the site. According to a UN spokeswoman says several people were injured by the blast, and American military ambulances and helicopters were seen evacuating those who were badly hurt. The explosion was powerful enough to break windows for more than a kilometer around the Canal Hotel complex where the United Nations has its Iraq headquarters.

As the workday was winding down Aug. 19 at the Saba Nissan civil military operations center, known locally as a "CMOC," soldiers from Detachment A, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Danbury, Conn., were getting ready to eat dinner, watching the news on their satellite television, or finishing up their work for the day. Without warning, the explosion at the United Nations headquarters-which is approximately 100 meters from the detachment's offices and living quarters-rocked the surrounding buildings and shattered windows throughout the area.

On 22 September 2003 the UN office in Iraq was the target of another apparent suicide car bombing, the second time in a month the institution had been attacked. The blast killed the attacker and an Iraqi policeman, and left 12 people wounded. The loud explosion ripped through the U-N parking lot in Baghdad, and reverberated around the capital. Witnesses said the bomb exploded as an Iraqi policeman inspected the attacker's car at a parking lot checkpoint. There were reports the bomber wore a belt loaded with explosives, and tried to drive closer to the UN building before entering the parking lot.

In a dusty corner of east Baghdad, there is a community of families living in an old Iraqi military complex. The buildings in the compound are less like family housing and more like warehouses and offices. Since coalition forces entered the city, soldiers have found that there are thousands of squatters living in abandoned government buildings. However, the people living at this compound have been encouraged to move there -- many have already been evicted from schools, fire departments, police stations and other government facilities that are now needed by the new Iraqi government.

The compound, named Hillsdale by U.S. soldiers, after Maj. Scott Hill, commander of Detachment A, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Danbury, Conn., is a temporary home for displaced Iraqis. Some are homeless because they are unemployed and others are internally displaced for political reasons. While Iraqis living there have been invited to stay, it's not a free ride. The residents of Hillsdale are allowed to live there only on a temporary basis. Soldiers from the 411th first found this site at the end of April 2003. Spc. Frank O'Farrell, civil affairs specialist with the battalion, is one of the soldiers who helped organize the community at Hillsdale, located near the civil military operations center (CMOC) that the 411th operates behind the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

Imagery of the UN Headquarters Compound, Baghdad
Click on the small image to view a larger version
Nima Map showing East Baghdad Nima Map mis-annotating the location of the Qanal Hotel, later to be used by UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and the current UN Mission. The mis-annotation could have been deliberate as a result of physical and operational security concerns or could be another NIMA quality control issue
Overview of Baghdad showing the general location of the UN compound The UN Compound on the Canal road
Overview of the UN Compound. On the left is an Iraqi hospital. On the right is the UN Compound. Imagery as of 18 August, 2002 Only 155 feet (47 meters) separates the main building from the Canal Road
Overview of the main UN Building White Arrows indicate likely avenue of approach by the truck-bomber. Red area indicates approximate area of damage, visible from ground-truth imagery.

Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC)

Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC)

Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC)

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:50:45 ZULU