Searching for Steele (2012)

The dark story of a key actor in America’s clandestine torture and terrorism operation in Iraq.


Our weekly documentary film curated by the editorial team at 21WIRE.

Following the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we can now look back at the US occupation of Iraq which began in 2003, and which directly led to emergence of terrorist group. One of the key factors in motivating extremists in Iraq was a chain of US-funded torture centres in the country which helped drive one of the deadliest sectarian wars ever in the region. One of the key actors in the clandestine violence and terrorism sponsored by the US is a man named James Steele. In this 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic, investigators revealed how the retired US colonel – who reported directly to General David Petraeus, both veterans of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua – played a key role in training and overseeing commandos who tortured Iraqis, and foment sectarian hate for a generation. Through their efforts, these men unleashed hell on Earth.

Run time: 51 min
Production: Guardian Films/ BBC Arabic