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Video Allegedly Shows U.S. Soldiers Shooting Dead Civilians in Iraq

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WikiLeaks Iraq video: Horrific footage shows U.S. soldiers shooting dead civilians - and laughing at bodies
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:50 AM on 06th April 2010


A horrific video showing the American soldiers shooting dead civilians in Iraq before laughing at their bodies has been leaked online.

The footage - which emerged on website WikiLeaks - shows US forces firing repeatedly on a group of men, some of whom are unarmed.

Among those believed killed in that attack was Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Saeed Chmagh, 40. Two children were also wounded during the incident in Baghdad.

Last night, a US military spokeman confirmed that the gritty footage was authentic.

WikiLeaks said it acquired encrypted video of the attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code.

The website added that the video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, showed a firefight in the New Baghdad district of the city on July 12, 2007.

The video, with an audio track of talking between the flyers, shows an aerial view of a group of men moving about a square in a Baghdad neighbourhood. The flyers identify some of the men as armed and claim they are holding AK47s and an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade).

WikiLeaks said the men in the square include Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, who were killed in the incident.

'The gathering at the corner that is fired upon has about nine people in it,' Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks spokesman said.

The gunsight tracks the two Reuters news staff as the flyers identify their cameras as weapons.

The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire.

One of the crew shouts: 'Hahaha. I hit 'em'. Another responds a little later: 'Oh yeah, look at those dead b*****ds.'

One of the men on the ground, believed to be the driver 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 so he has a reason for opening fire, and says: 'All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.'

Minutes later a van comes by, and starts assisting the wounded, and the helicopter opens fire. Sitting behind the windscreen are two children.

After ground forces arrive and the children are discovered, the American air crew blame the Iraqis.

'Well it's their fault for bringing kids in to a battle,' says one.

David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor in chief, said of the video released by WikiLeaks that the deaths of Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh were 'tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones'.

'The video released today via WikiLeaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result,' he said.

Reuters has pressed the U.S. military to conduct a full and objective investigation into the killing of the two staff.

Video of the incident from two U.S. Apache helicopters and photographs taken of the scene were shown to Reuters editors in Baghdad on July 25, 2007, in an off-the-record briefing.

U.S. military officers who presented the materials said Reuters had to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get copies. This request was made the same day.

Mr Assange said he disagreed with a U.S. military assessment of the incident that the attack was justified.

'I believe that if those killings were lawful under the rules of engagement, then the rules of engagement are wrong, deeply wrong,' he said.

'Why would anyone be so relaxed with two Apaches if someone was carrying an RPG and that person was an enemy of the United States?" he said.

The flyers in the video act 'like they are playing a computer game and their desire is they want to get high scores' by killing opponents, he added.

WikiLeaks posted the video at mhttp://www.collateralmurder.org.

'Why would anyone be so relaxed with two Apaches if someone was carrying an RPG and that person was an enemy of the United States?" he said.

While there was unprofessional comments made by the pilots, is the Reuters representative really serious that carrying an RPG in Iraq shouldn't be cause for concern?  really.... :o
Collateral murder! What a giant crock!!

I just watched the video, taken just a few months after I left.

During my time in the city, IEDs, huge SVBIEDs, Apaches raining 30mm and Hellfire, death squads, roving snipers, and random ambushes were common. Late 2006 and throughout 2007 were very violent times in Baghdad alone, where from Sep 06 to Mar 07, some 16,476 (only the reported cases) Baghdad citizens were killed. I will remember that body count for the rest of my days, and that happened all around us 24/7.

You can't be PC in the middle of a battle.

Two Iraqi reporters embedded with the enemy, yes an armed enemy for that matter, and those surrounded by supporters of the enemy, again bad luck for them.

As for kids caught up in the middle, yes in a vehicle used to support the AIF, thats not the Coaltion's fault, is it.

Bad luck. Journalists have indeed been killed with Coaltion forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, one Canadian female quite recently.

IMHO just media spin.

I find nothing wrong with this video, sure, its graphic, but what part of war is not.

The the anti-war spin put on it again by the media who trade the real truth for their twisted and f'd up spin, making us, the good guys look like godless murderers, and then providing warped sensationalism all to sell sell sell and to create more controversy.

I've always dispised the media, and they IMHO are the enemy in this case, and how many Coaltion soldiers will pay for their 'story'.


The media should hang their heads in shame.

War is hell.

Summing up, there is no glory in death, dying or killing, I think thats one thing we as professionals can all agree on.

Yet again disgusted,

"The first casualty when war comes is truth."

US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson, 1918

Let 'em whine. The bad guys got what they deserved, luckily.
When the newsmedia embeds with the enemy they are fair game.





I am siding with OWDU on this one. IMO the helicopter crews were tracking an armed group within the vicinity of an American element. They identified weapons (Not referring to them thinking the cameras were weapons, I mean the ACTUAL weapons in the group) in a group and they acted accordingly and did what they are tasked to do. If I were in the shoes of the gunners I would have done the same. Some of the comments made by the pilots were unprofessional, but that is the "in the moment" stuff that slips out before you think about what you are saying. If a helicopter crew is tasked with supporting a ground element and it comes across a group of armed insurgents FLAGRANTLY carrying weapons in wide open space, it lights them up. They even received clearance BEFORE engaging. The Reuters casualties, however unfortunate, could not have been avoided and an embedded war journalist accepts those risks no matter what side of the war they embed with.

IMO, do you think that an insurgent group ambushing and wiping out a US ground element would show ANY mercy to a surviving and wounded embedded reporter? Not likely. War is hell, what do you think is going on over there? Picnics and sing-alongs? Please.
aegishjalmar said:
War is hell, what do you think is going on over there? Picnics and sing-alongs? Please.

Aw man, the recruiter totally mislead me :(
Yes, the footage is horrific.  War is essentially a failure in humanity.  People die in wars.  People die in horrible ways in wars.  Journalists know this when they go with us or any other combatant.  Michelle Lang knew it, and these two did as well.  As for the crews of the Apache's and their manner of talking, well, they just killed some bad guys, and their talk is mostly cathartic, no?

"Collateral Murder" is the title of that video thread, and I watched it yesterday.  At no point on the host web site do they talk bad about those who set off suicide vests in markets, crammed with non-combatants.  Never. 

Anyway, this incident was under Bush. It is his fault.  Nothing like it will ever happen again. Obama ROE's rule.
Rifleman62 said:
Anyway, this incident was under Bush. It is his fault.  Nothing like it will ever happen agiain. Obama ROE's rule.
Family Weeps at Video of Son’s Death in U.S. Strike, NY Times

MOSUL, Iraq — The family of a Reuters photographer killed in an American military airstrike
watched the video of it late Monday and burst into tears as they saw what appeared to be
the crews of two American Apache attack helicopters kill their son and 11 other people,
gloating at what the crewmen seemed to think was a successful strike on insurgents.

“At last the truth has been revealed, and I’m satisfied God revealed the truth,” said Noor
Eldeen, the father of the photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, who was 22 when he was
killed in July 2007. “If such an incident took place in America, even if an animal were
killed like this, what would they do?”. Other family members said Tuesday that the video
was clear enough to remove any doubt about the identity of their son. Also among the
dead was a Reuters driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.

The video was released Monday by Wikileaks.org, an online organization that said it had
received it from a military whistle-blower and used donated computing power to decrypt
it. United States military officials have confirmed that it appears to be authentic. In the
video, the group of men on the street in the eastern Baghdad district of New Baghdad
on July 12, 2007, seemed to be mostly unarmed, although the chatter among the air
crews shows they are convinced that the people on the ground have both AK-47s and
a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. An American Army ground unit nearby was
receiving fire from insurgents at the time.

On the video, there is at least one of the group of victims who appears to be carrying a
rifle, but it is dangling at his side in a relaxed manner, and he does not appear to deploy
it. In another scene, a large camera lens poking around the corner of a building is
interpreted as a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. The view of the men is obscured by
a building as the attacking helicopter circles around it. The helicopter opens fire almost
immediately after they come into view again. “Look at those dead bastards,” one of the
cockpit voices says. “Nice.”

When a vehicle arrives at the scene to help the wounded, the helicopters fire into it. United
States troops call for a child who had been in the vehicle to be taken to the hospital. “Well,
it’s their fault bringing their kids into the battle,” one of the cockpit voices says. The
Associated Press quoted a spokesman for the United States Central Command, Navy Capt.
Jake Hanzlik, as saying that the military had no reason to believe the video is a fake, but
that they were still comparing the video and audio to see if it matched the original. The
United States military’s censored version of its report on the episode maintains that the
crewmen acted appropriately and within the rules of engagement and that the Reuters
employees were mixed in with a group of insurgents so their cameras were easily mistaken
for weapons.

“My question is, how could those highly skilled American pilots with all their high-tech
information not distinguish between a camera and a rocket launcher?” the photographer’s
brother, Nabeel Noor-Eldeen, an archaeology professor at Mosul University, said on Tuesday
after watching the video with the rest of the family a few hours earlier.

Rod Nordland contributed reporting from Baghdad.
An earlier version of this article misspelled Namir Noor-Eldeen’s first name.
How many of you would have recognized the items that they were carrying as not being weapons, if it had not been pointed out to you?  Are you prepared to put you life on the line to decide yes or no?  Hindsight is 20-20. 
Here's the full version of the video, approximately 39 minutes long.


After the American ground elements arrive on scene they confirm finding an RPG round (17-18 minutes mark) and later on there is a request from higher to confirm whether the RPG round appears live or expended, to which they reply it was live.

Piecing together the entire thing from what I could see and what I could figure out from the comms chatter, there was an American ground element (Hotel two-six) under fire in the immediate area, including both AK and RPG fire targeted at the Bradleys. The helicopters (Crazyhorse one-eight) responded to provide air cover along their axis of advance, and spotted a party of individuals, where they positively identified weapons, and further mistook the camera crew for more weapons.

They engaged the party of individuals, and then the van that came to pick up bodies.

Another ground element (Bushmaster) arrived on location with Bradleys, HMMVWs and trucks and formed a cordon around the area. They found the two injured kids, and also found a live RPG round that validates the determination of a positive threat.

I'm now chalking this one up to reporters hoping to get a good story by hanging out with insurgents who were preparing to ambush American forces, and got caught in the justified American fire. They died of the dumbs. Then a civilian van came up to try to render aid and to evacuate the injured, and they were engaged. I still cannot see that that second engagement was justified.

After this, Crazyhorse orbited for some time, eventually resumed patrolling, and spotted more individuals with AKs in the vicinity of the ground fighting. They followed them visually into a building, estimated 5-6 individuals in the building, and engaged it with three hellfires. On the initial hellfire shot it looks like a civilian pedestrian passerby was definitely very close to the point of impact.

That's about all I've got. I'd need to know more about the events leading up to this to make any further meaningful estimation. The important part that I take out of this is that the edited 17 minute version specifically excludes both subsequent references to an RPG round (later remarked on as appearing to be unexpended) either under one of the bodies or immediately by it.
The so called journalists in question were Iraqi stringers. Who in their right mind would embed with a hostile enemy force unless you indentify with the insurgents.  Lebanese stringers actually made false reports during the last dust up with Israel. Other Iraqi stringers had done the same as this lot and paid with their lives. US and Canadian journalists have been killed by our enemies,I wonder where those videos are ? Oh, thats right they are on youtube posted by the insurgents. This is a non-story being peddled by a bunch of pro-islamic terrorist lovers. What a minute Haditha comes to mind. Marines wipe out civilians. Story is peddled by Iraqi stringers and picked up by Time. Guess what after an investigation it turned out to be the civilians were killed by insurgents and then blamed on Marines. Samething has happened in Afghanistan. We have lost too many fine men and women to these enemies of freedom.
While I was not there and won't defend or criticize the first engagement on the pers in the open, I can see how the pilots would have a difficult time defending their second engagement against the bongo van and responders.

It's not about Canadian ROE or American ROE, it's about the Law of Armed conflict and engaging combatants or non-combatants, as well as targets that can be considered a military necessity.

As I said I am neutral on this issue, but I don't think the pilots will have any difficulty defending their first engagement.  Nobody but them can state how threatened they felt, and as the stills show they could be interpreted as weapons.  However, the pilots will have to defend their actions shooting the van and first aiders against this criteria:

"Military Targets

The LOAC governs the conduct of aerial warfare. The principle of military necessity limits aerial attacks to lawful military targets. Military targets are those that by their own nature, location, purpose, or use make an effective contribution to an enemy’s military capability and whose total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization in the circumstances existing at the time of an attack enhance legitimate military objectives."

From the US website:
Let's put it in this perspective.
You're in an AH-64
Rotors rattling your A/C
Your own troops in a known insurgent area
Lots of radio traffic
Optics providing definition that matches what you are used to recognizing as weapons
High adrenoline...

Do you take the shot?
Reporter+insurgents+forces hunting insurgents = playing with bull = prepare for the horns

BTW, if you want to read more supporting documentation, you can find LOADS here, courtesy of CENTCOM (h/t tp the Jawa Report for this)

- edited to add link to background info -
Rifleman62 said:
Anyway, this incident was under Bush. It is his fault.  Nothing like it will ever happen agiain. Obama ROE's rule.
Are you high or something?
Small add of informations :

Jammer said:
Do you take the shot?

From what I heard on the news, they didn't (immediately) shoot.
They asked for permission to shot, and upon receiving it,  they then