Leaked Video Shows US Gunship Killing Journalists
classified us military video showing a 2007 attack by apache helicopters that killed 12 people in baghdad, including two reuters news staff, has been released by a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption.
The group, wikileaks, told a news conference at the national press club in washington that it acquired encrypted video of the july 12 attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code.
A us defence official confirmed the video and audio were authentic.
The helicopter gunsight video, with an audio track of talking between the pilots, shows an aerial view of a group of men moving about a square in a baghdad neighbourhood. The fliers identify some of the men as armed.
Wikileaks said the men in the square included 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 pilots identify their cameras as weapons.
The helicopter initially opens fire on the small group. Minutes later a van comes by and people inside start helping the wounded and the helicopter opens fire on the van.
David schlesinger, editor in chief of reuters, said the deaths of mr noor-eldeen and mr 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 us military to conduct a full and objective investigation into the killing of the two staff.
Video of the incident from two us 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.
Us military officers who presented the materials said reuters had to make a request under freedom of information laws to get copies. This request was made the same day.
Mr assange said he disagreed with a us 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.
The pilots 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 said.
Wikileaks posted the video at http://www.collateralmurder.com
You can watch the 17+ min horrific video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceMGi...ayer_embedded#
Al Jazeera's report on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aIA0...layer_embedded
Worlds greatest terrorists. May Allah, by His Might, humiliate, disgrace and punish them and end their lives at the hands of the Muslims. May Allah cast them into the lowest pits of hell.
May Allah have mercy on our brothers, grant their families patience and re-unite them with their loved ones in Jannatul firdaws, ameen.
US-LED troops in Afghanistan have been accused of digging bullets out of the dead bodies of three Afghan women in an attempted cover-up of a bungled raid they conducted in a village earlier this year.
After initially denying responsibility for the deaths, NATO commanders have now confirmed that their troops killed two pregnant women and another female villager in the botched raid on February 12.
NATO at first suggested that the women - one of them a pregnant mother of 10 and another a pregnant mother of six - had died by some other means hours before the raid.
In a statement released yesterday Melbourne time, the US-led military command in Kabul said investigators had concluded the women were ''accidentally killed'' as a result of joint forces firing at two armed men, who also died. ''We deeply regret the outcome of this operation,'' said NATO spokesman Brigadier General Eric Tremblay.
In a potentially scandalous turn, The Times in London has reported findings by Afghan investigators that US forces not only killed the women but ''dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath'' and then ''washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened''.
Other signs of evidence tampering had also been found at the house, a NATO official said in an interview with The New York Times. ''There was evidence of … walls being washed, bullets dug out of holes in the wall,'' the official said.
He added that investigators ''couldn't find bullets from the wounds in the body''.
The official said the Afghan-led team had alerted NATO military chiefs - including General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan - to the findings on evidence tampering in late March.
The disclosures could not come at a worse time for the US military, as it struggles to contain fallout from a series of tirades against the foreign military presence by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has also railed against the killing of civilians by Western forces.
General McChrystal has tried hard, and with some success, to reduce civilian casualties through new rules that include restricting night raids and bringing Special Operations forces under tighter control.
But botched Special Operations attacks - which are blamed for a large proportion of the civilian deaths caused by NATO forces - continue to infuriate Afghans and create support for the Taliban.
Before yesterday, NATO military officials had already admitted killing two innocent civilians - a district prosecutor and local police chief - during the February 12 raid on a home near Gardez in south-east Afghanistan. The two men were shot when they came out of their home, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, to investigate.
In its statement yesterday, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted that ''international forces'' were responsible for the deaths of the women as well.
Officials have previously stated that American Special Operations forces and Afghan forces conducted the operation.
The statement said ''investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence,'' but that they had nonetheless ''concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men''.
''We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families,'' said Brigadier Tremblay. ''The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taliban insurgent and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety.
''We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families.''
The admission was an abrupt about-face. In a statement soon after the raid, NATO had claimed that its raiding party had stumbled upon the ''bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed'' and hidden in a room in the house.
Military officials had also said later that the bodies showed signs of puncture and slashing wounds from a knife, and that the women appeared to have been killed several hours before the raid.
Survivors of the raid called that explanation a cover-up and insisted from the outset that American forces killed the women. Relatives and family friends of those killed said the raid followed a party in honour of the birth of a grandson of the owner of the house.
A spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, Zemary Bashary, said he did not have any information about the Afghan-led investigation, which he said remained unfinished.
Iraq outrage over US killing video
Families of Iraqi civilians, seen being shot and killed by US forces in a leaked video, are seeking justice for their deaths.
Earlier this week Wikileaks, a whistleblower website that publishes anonymously sourced documents, released a video showing the US military firing at a group of civilians in Baghdad three years ago.
The shooting left 12 people dead, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.
The Pentagon said it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the tape, but that two investigations into the incident cleared the air crew of any wrongdoing.
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But victims' relatives have told Al Jazeera they want the military personnel responsible to be taken to court.
Two young children whose father was killed in the attack could not understand why they were targeted.
"We were coming back and we saw an injured man. My father said lets take him to hospital. Then I heard only the bullets ... why did they shoots us? Didn't they see we were children?" Sajad Mutashar, who was injured along with his sister, said.
His uncle, Satar, demanded the pilot be taken to court.
"Nobody gave the children anything, their rights are gone and the American's didn't even compensate for the destroyed car. I sold it for $500 to spend the money treating them," he told Al Jazeera.
The US army says it has authorised payments to the family.
The family of Saeed Chamgh, one of the Reuters employee killed in the attack, are also demanding justice for his death.
"The pilot is not human, he's a monster. What did my brother do? What did his children do? Does the pilot accept his kids to be orphans?" Safa Chmagh, Saeed’s brother, told Al Jazeera.
US military Iraq probes questioned
"Inshallah we won't leave his rights".
Salwan Saeed, Saeed’s son, added: "The American has broken my back by killing my father. I will not let the Americans get away with it. I will follow the path of my father and will hold another camera."
A statement from the two probes said the air crew had acted appropriately and followed the rules of engagement.
According to Pentagon investigations into the affair, the air crew had reason to believe the people seen in the video were anti-government fighters.
'Case for war crimes'
But Mark Taylor an international law expert and a director at the Fafo Institute for International Studies in Norway, told Al Jazeera the evidence so far "indicated that there's a case to be made that a war crime may have been committed".
"It's the American authorities, the US military that has to take a closer look at this investigation.
"There are questions about the way the investigation was conducted and whether or not it was done in a proper manner," he said.
Taylor added the Iraqi families may be able to get monetary compensation, but that there could be a much larger case to be had.
"There are precedents of US soldiers being prosecuted for crimes in Iraq, for crimes of murder, rape and manslaughter. So it's not unprecedented that this could go forward both in military courts as well as in civilian criminal courts in the US.
"The case also raises larger questions about the laws of war. I think what this video shows is really a case that challenges whether the laws of war are strict enough."
WikiLeaks said it obtained the video from a number of "military whistleblowers".