Video shows false claims by US air crew on Iraq shootings
A SECRET video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency, was revealed by Wikileaks yesterday.
The footage of the July 2007 attack was made public in a move that will further anger the Pentagon, which has drawn up a report identifying the whistleblower website as a threat to national security.
The US defence department was embarrassed when that confidential report appeared on the Wikileaks site last month alongside a slew of military documents.
The newly released video of the Baghdad attacks was recorded on one of two Apache helicopters hunting for insurgents on July 12th 2007. Among the dead were a Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen (22), and his driver, Saeed Chmagh (40).
Wikileaks director Julian Assange said his organisation had to break through encryption by the military to view the video.
In the recording, the helicopter crews can be heard discussing the scene below. One American claims to have spotted six people with AK-47s and one with a rocket-propelled grenade. It is unclear if some of the men are armed but Noor-Eldeen can be seen with a camera. Chmagh is talking on his mobile phone.
One of the helicopter crew is heard saying that one of the group is shooting, but the video shows no shooting or even pointing of weapons. The men are standing around, apparently unperturbed. The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire.
“Ha ha ha. I hit ’em,” shouts one of the American crew. Another responds a little later: “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.”
One of the men on the ground, believed to be Chmagh, is seen wounded and trying to crawl to safety. One of the helicopter crew is heard wishing for the man to reach for a gun, even though there is none visible nearby, so he has the pretext for opening fire: “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.”
A van draws up next to the wounded man and Iraqis climb out. They are unarmed and start to carry the victim to the vehicle.
One of the helicopters opens fire with armour-piercing shells. “Look at that. Right through the windshield,” says one of the crew. Another responds with a laugh. Sitting behind the windscreen were two children who were wounded.
After ground forces arrive and the children are discovered, the US air crew blame the Iraqis. “Well it’s their fault for bringing kids in to a battle,” says one. “That’s right,” says another.
Initially the US military said that all the dead were insurgents. Then it claimed the helicopters reacted to an active firefight. Mr Assange said that the video demonstrated that neither claim was true. – (Guardian service)