The organization WikiLeaks released a leaked video today showing footage of U.S. soldiers indiscriminately gunning down Iraqis from an Apache helicopter gunship. In the video, U.S. soldiers are heard laughing while shooting down over a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists. After the initial shootings, a van stops by to pick up one of the survivors who is crawling away. As Iraqis load the wounded man into the van, the U.S. soldiers open fire again, killing more Iraqis and wounding two young children who were inside the vehicle.
Later, when U.S. troops arrive on the ground to investigate the scene of the killings, a U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle drives over the body of one of the dead, and two U.S. soldiers are heard chuckling over the intercom of the Apache helicopter. The U.S. troops discover two badly wounded children, 10-year-old Sayad and 5-year-old Doaha, and a soldier makes a decision to evacuate them by air to a U.S. military hospital. The order is then revoked and the children are placed in the hands of Iraqi police to be taken to a local clinic, where care is inferior and there will be greater delays prior to treatment.
The Reuters journalists who were killed by U.S. troops were Namir Nour El Deen, age 21, and Saeed Chmagh, age 40. "What Namir was doing was a patriotic work. He was trying to cover the violations of the Americans against the Iraqi people," said Nabil Nour El Deen, the brother of Namir, speaking to Al Jazeera today. "Is this the democracy and freedom they claim they have brought to Iraq?"
"This is another crime that should be added to the record of American crimes in Iraq and the world," Nabil added.
The video provides rare insight into the daily reality of Iraqis throughout seven years of U.S. occupation. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed during the U.S. occupation, with hundreds of thousands of deaths directly attributable to the actions of U.S. military forces. What is especially instructive about this incident is how the U.S. military portrayed the event at the time.
As Reuters reported on July 16 2007, "The U.S. military said last week it had called in ‘attack aviation reinforcement’ after coming under fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Nine insurgents and two civilians ‘reported as employees for the Reuters news service’ were killed, the statement said.’”
Each day similar statements are issued by U.S. military describing their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many other murderous incidents are hidden by similar statements of "clashes with insurgents?"
Additional photographs and resources documenting the crime are available from WikiLeaks.