May 12, 2006

Author' s note: This article relies in great part on information provided by Geoff Nordloh through interviews and emails over an extended period of time.

Iraq 2003

On the afternoon of October 9th, 2003, after calling an Iraqi co-worker for help with a flat tire, Kirk von Ackermann disappeared from a road between Tikrit and Kirkuk in Iraq. Within an hour, his car would be found with his laptop computer, satellite phone, and $40,000 in cash  —  but no sign of von Ackermann.

His colleague Ryan Manelick remarked to freelance journalist Colin Freeman, “It was as if he had been abducted by aliens.” Manelick would later be reported as having suggested von Ackermann was the victim of foul play, because von Ackermann was about to blow the whistle on kickbacks within their company, Ultra Services, of Istanbul, Turkey.

On December 14th, just two months after Kirk von Ackermann disappeared, Manelick himself was gunned down shortly after leaving a meeting at a base north of Baghdad. Both men had worked for the same contractor, Ultra Services of Istanbul, Turkey.

Ultra Services fulfilled logistics contracts for the US Army in Iraq.1