Chilling footage of journalists getting shot in Iraq

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By Nima Maghame and Rebecca Bowe

On July 12th, 2007 two apache helicopters attacked the small suburb of Al-Amin, Iraq. More than two dozen people were killed, including two Reuters journalists, driver assistant Saeed Chmagh and war photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen.

And the entire incident was recorded on video -- from the helicopters.

Reuters demanded an investigation in the summer of 2007, and asked for copies of the video the choppers took. The government refused. But after three years, a copy of the video has finally been released -- through Wikileaks. The chilling footage shows the helicopters firing on seemingly unsuspecting Iraqi civilians -- and includes the helicopter crews’s comment, which are even more chilling.

It’s as if the gunners were playing a video game, as if they didn’t consider the people on the ground to be living human beings. “Oh, look at those dead bastards,” one crewman says. At another point, the gunners -- who aren’t allowed to fire at unarmed targets -- practically beg a wounded man to pick up a weapon so they can finish him off. And when the man gets into a van that arrives to help him, they ask for permission to open fire: “Come on, let us shoot!”

The U.S. Military released a memo explaining that the actions taken by the soldiers were in accordance with its own Rules of Engagement.

 

The 17-minute video was posted online at Wikileaks.org, an investigative Web site that publicizes sensitive documents and
information leaked by anonymous sources in order to expose corruption and wrongdoing. Wikileaks obtained the footage "from a number of military whistleblowers," according to a description accompanying the footage on the Web site CollateralMurder.com. Wikileaks editors had to decode the encrypted version of the leaked video in order to view its contents and air it.

In the video, when shooters inside the helicopter start to zero in on the pedestrians below, they can be heard identifying the objects they are carrying as an AK-47 and an RPG. But according to an Associated Press article quoting an unnamed U.S. military official, "a military investigation later concluded that what was thought to be an RPG was really a long-range photography lens; likewise, the camera looked like an AK-47."

Reuters stopped short --- way, way short -- of making a big issue of the killings. “The deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh three years ago were tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones,” said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news We continue to work for journalist safety and call on all involved parties to recognise the important work that journalists do and the extreme danger that photographers and video journalists face in particular.”

David Finkle wrote about the incident in his 2009 book The Good Soldiers. Finkle, who was following military personnel in charge of training Iraqi national forces, had only been a few streets away when the attack took place. The author had also been friends with Noor-Eldeen and Chmang.

Finkle wrote that both Reuters staff were working independently -- that is, they weren’t officially embedded with the U.S. forces -- and he claims that's is why the military didn’t know of their existence. “There had been reports of sniper rifle, rooftop chases, and rocket-propelled grenades being fired at Bravo Company, and as the fighting continued, it attracted the attention of Namir Noor-Eldeen, a 22-year-old photographer for Reuters news agency who lived in Baghdad, and Saeed Chmangh, 40, his driver and assistant,” wrote Finkle, who was close to where the Apaches attacked but not an eyewitness.

“There was a one-second pause and then came the fourth burst. In the cloud, NE could be seen trying to stand, and then he simply seemed to explode,” wrote Finkle. Chmang tried to stand up and run away before falling down again. The video's audio picked up two of the drivers urging Chmang to arm himself so they can kill him.

“Come on, buddy” says one driver. “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon,” says the other driver.

A Kia passenger van stopped by Chmang and attempted to rescue him. The helicopters radioed for permission to fire on the van and received confirmation just as Chmang was being helped into the van. The soldiers blasted the van just as it started to roll away.

Two children were wounded in the attack as well, and were evacuated by US. Military personnel.

Comments

Able's blood is still warm and flowing
Cain become city become nation become murder inc. become a pure killing machine void of ethic or moral save what benefits itself for it's own greed.
The kids in the chopper think it's a game and are going to be in your neighborhood someday pretending to be cops enforcing the morals of a government without any...just doing their job...not their fault...
whatever happened to anyone having a set of fully dropped balls being able to say no this is wrong. What a nation of pussies
Anyone can kill. it's easy...just takes a second and it's over...
It takes a real man to not kill.
this wasn't an engagement it was a chopper full of noobs hanging around looking to start something with the small and the weak so they can brag about their skillz over a beer and then someday one of them is going to shoot you or your kid in your neighborhood and it will still be all your fault.
Ever notice anytime someone won't take it anymore there is never any mention of the wrongs and the evil...just that some guy snapped and got himself killed by a cop for no apparent reason...

Here is a song by German Michael Weikath of Helloween written during the cold war.
Still so true...

A lot of things occur each day
We've got to live with on our way
There's so much misery on the screen
With commercials in between

And the Russians won't be so late
Uncle Sam don't wanna wait
No matter if you're black or white
You never ever had a right

And look up to the eternal skies
See warfare even there
What once has been a paradise
Now destruction and despair

In other worlds the children die
Lacking food ill from a fly
Oppressed by troops to tame their land
It's all the same again

If any man is free on earth
Then tormentors steal his birth
They slam gun butts in his face
And leave his woman choked in mace

So stand up for our human rights
Push back this pest of hate
Raise your voice pass on the light
Unite! it's not too late

[Chorus]
How many tears flow away
To become a sea of fears
How many hearts are torn apart
Till another torment starts

But before the world
Turns into a sun
All cruelty and violence
On earth will be dead and gone

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

I am very confused by how we are training our troops. One day, you read about troops disturbed by what they have seen or done. The next, you hear about stories like this where death and pain are pursued. I'm certain one difference is whether you're on the ground vs. up in the air where the sights and sounds are certainly different. I'm concerned all the way around when there is no longer a war and these Americans return to 'normal' society...how will they relate and react to normalcy, and how will we interact with them?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

I am the mother of a soldier in Iraq. Dont you dare! speek so cruely about the men and women defending our country as well as the freedom of Iraq. These young people have seen and done things that no human should have to see. Seeing your bestfriends guts spill out in your hands because a teenage boy set off a roadside bomb. You go threw what these people have and you would shoot and ask questions later too. Stop judging till it is your child over there and you get the chaplan at your door telling you your child was killed by an RPG they though was only a camera lens. You bleeding hearts don't know the first thing about what it takes to keep us safe. And by the way, if you don't like the way we do things in this country, may be you would like to move to warm sands of Iraq or Aphghanistan. My son says its beautiful this time of year. War is hell people and these kids are dioing the best that they can to do what they were trained to do. Stop beating them up and start standing up for them insted.

Posted by Mother of military on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

That's horrifying.

Posted by generic on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Soldiers-David-Finkel/dp/0374165734

The book I linked was written by a journalist a few blocks over when this all happened, who was friends with the reuters guys and embedded with the troops who show up on the ground towards the end of the video. People are acting like it was some big cover up but the guy describes the video in the book, meaning he saw it at least 2 years ago. I'm pretty sure I've seen clips of it mixed into other apache videos too. And the military conducted an investigation so they probably weren't in a hurry to release it, but they did, not publicly though: from reuters own article on the video http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6344FW20100406 (check this one from a 2 yrs ago http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL05399965 as well)...

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

U.S. military officers who presented the materials said Reuters had to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) A U.S. government rule that states that public information shall be delivered within 10 days of request. ) to get copies. This request was made the same day.

Turner said the military had released documents to Reuters last year in response to the FOIA request showing the presence of weapons on the scene, including AK-47 rifles and an RPG"

There's definitely two Ak's in the video (3:38-3:50), according to the book they were the journalist's bodyguards, few journalists walked around Baghdad in those days without them. The video doesn't label those guys though. And 4:08 to 4:19, even knowing what and who I was watching, my first thought when I saw that was "RPG", one the biggest threats to a helicopter. There was a lot of shooting going on on those streets that day just blocks over, so any armed men were a reasonable target to the pilots.

Either way, everyone's alarmed by the pilots' banter but no one seems to care that the commander who wasn't on scene overruled the medic treating the little kids who wanted to bring in a Bradley to act as an armored ambulance to take them to the US base hospital where their chances of survival would be much higher and instead had them handed off to the Iraqi police to be taken to an iraqi hospital... the guys on the ground were trying to do right in a fucked situation and the old man sitting back in the FOB didn't want to take responsibility for two innocents his air cover had nearly killed.

The guys in the apache followed the ROE, too eagerly to be sure, attacking the van was pretty aggressive but that's what the ROE said was a target. They zoom it in in the video to show the kids but you can't hit pause and zoom in on an apache. It's not a cover up, its tragic no doubt, but it sure wasn't some deliberate assassination to silence journalists. Its fog of war. All the gadgetry and hi-tech shit doesn't matter, its the same as its always been, the guy who pulls the trigger, how much info he's got, and his ability to tell friend from foe.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

The real issue here is that the U.S. has no business in Iraq to begin with. For all of you saying they are fighting for freedom, you are wrong. What they are fighting for is mainly oil and power in the region, to go along with a little U.S. imperialism. So regardless of whether anyone on the ground had a weapon or even if that weapon was being trained on a U.S. helicopter, anyone defending their own country against foreign invaders -- in this case, the U.S. -- is totally justified, and the invaders are in the wrong. Rare exceptions made for invading places like Nazi Germany in order to stop mass killings, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the Middle East.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Apr. 06, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

oh my god.what has happened to our military.my son was trained the same way these pilots were.i have no doubt that if he were in the same position he would have .acted differently toward the human beings laying dead on the ground.the casual attitude shown by our pilots can not be justified under any circumstances.god help our country.

Posted by Guest military father on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 4:55 am

Our pilots are military personnel. Trained individuals that need to keep calm and cool under pressure and in the middle of an engagement. they are not there to pussyfoot around. There is actually nothing they said that I find to be offensive, demeaning or out of line. They are engaging an insurgent hostile enemy force. The last thing I'm gonna worry about is the pilots indicating that there people they just took out were "bastards". You want to be the one pulling the trigger? For god-sakes they are the ones that have to cope with the engagement. What do you think our military training does? New flash, it creates SOLDIERS! those individuals that engage in killing other people when necessary. I'm proud to have these types of men and women in our armed forces. Hell, any country on earth would love to have a military as trained and as professional as our US Armed Forces. These guys lay their life onthe line every time they take to the air.

Maybe this should be taken as a lesson for some journalist...if you are going to collaberate with the enemy in order to show the human side of an insurgent enemy that continue to execute prisioners and blow up their own country then maybe they should be tipping off the military about their operations so not to be included in the attack. Journalist get killed, just like everyone else in a war zone. It doesn't make it right, but their in a war zone! It's a dangerous, dangerous job. I can only hope he loved his work enough to die for it. For most people, dying doing what you love would be a great and honorable death. I do hope this kind of activity can be limited, but don't blame the pilots...they were right in what they did.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 8:01 am

This video made me kind of sick also. For a moment, I almost wished I never served 8 years in the Army. However, I realized, the military is not perfect. Just like we have shady cops and gang-bangers on the streets, the military has some truly fu**** up minds.

As much as we want to believe that the pilots begging for permission to shoot were doing so out of necessity, they were not. The group on the ground was much too relaxed and not behaving as insurgents would.

As much as we want to believe the van pulling up was a hostile force, they were simply trying to help wounded people. Any insurgent would have left the area rather quickly after knowing their friends just got blown away, or taking defensive positions. Even if these were insurgents, what ever happened to sparing the medic?

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the "RPG" is really a camera. It does not even look like an RPG and he was not holding it like an RPG.

The automatic rifles (maybe AK-47s), does not automatically equal a hostile force. Private security is all over that country. This was probably just the excuse they needed to get some target practice.

I noticed the small person (aka child) in the passenger seat right away; I'm surprised the pilots didn't. But it is ok because as the pilot said, the bad guys should not bring their kids to a battle. A “battle”

These were clearly some trigger happy rednecks looking to score some kills so they could brag to their friends and maybe even get a metal for it. Aside from the fact that they had no reason to engage the photographer or the armed escorts or the van picking up wounded with the kid in the front seat, I would say that the Americans had a pretty good "battle".

We spend a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan and we end up fighting just like insurgents do. What cowards.

Posted by Lloyd on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

I forgot to mention one thing. Any rag-tag, poorly trained, Army reserve squad of accountants could have taken out 5 guys with 2 rifles and a camera (if they were hostile). The near by ground soldiers had this intel, and could have taken control of the situation.

All the carnage could have been prevented.

Posted by Lloyd on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

Can you imagine what one 30mm round does to the human body and in rapid fire just explodes people into ham hocks. Why is the U.S. military using rounds on human beings that would otherwise be used to penetrate light armoured vehicles and what ever happened to one shot one kill, the Apache pilots used a million dollars worth of rounds trying to hit targets that were just standing there. They were begging to re-engage on people who they had just torn to shreds and shooting at bodies they already killed. No wonder these people hate us in their country, what kind of spotting does intel have to allow two children to be fired upon continuously by Apaches. It is a miracle that the onboard targeting system had an azimuth error and thats what saved those kids near the end of the engagement. I used to build the opticial mirror motors for the Apache back in the mid 1980's and alot of other distructive hardware but I quit that when I found out how most of it was being used just like in this video. This was inexcusable, disgusting and unprofessional an imbarrassment to our country and what it stands for.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2010 @ 10:07 am

Wow. While reading some of your comments, I became angry. No, I'm not some "Redneck". I'm a Marine. I fought in Iraq. My last mission before completing my enlistment was in the Battle of Fallujah (04'-05'). I understand that the majority of you reading this are anti-military. That is fine. You have the freedom to slam the military. To paint the military as a whole as "baby killers" or killing innocent people because we’re a bunch of rednecks is ridicules!

While this video is troubling to view, it is the reality of war. Where are the video's of us helping the Iraqi's when all of a sudden, an RPG is shot and several Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, or Airmen are killed? I've seen it! I've seen when the insurgents and/or al Qaeda kills innocent people to try and start a civil war. The troops do everything they can to protect civilians.

Do you actually think that it was a Sunday.... it was a slow day.... it had been a month since they got in a fire fight.... so they flew around the area just to kill a prize? HELL NO!! There was activity in the area. The troops on the ground had been fired at... you have no idea what happened minutes, or hours prior. You have no idea what civilians come to tell the Iraqi and U.S. troops about what they know about what is going on and who did what. Do you think "the good guys" (us), are constantly in battle mode? No. We are vigilant, but not always on a knee pointing at nothing. Many times, after a battle, firefight, or during planning, we are walking around, joking, or prepping gear. While trusting our troops watching our back, we tried our best to recoup.

In saying all of this, some of you have no idea what feelings are going thru a Soldier/Marines head out there... I pray you never do! To look at a clip of a video and claim to know what is going on, is idiocy. I have told several reporters during my time there that it would be in their best interest to get out... It isn't going to a hot air balloon flight or covering a traffic accident. This is combat. You can disagree with the war, although I don't because of the civilian’s that thanked us, but shitting on us because of your ideology, is wrong. The Islamic Terrorist (yes I said it) doesn't only want to kill "rednecks... or tea party people", they want to kill liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans, etc. etc..... anyone who does not agree with them! They even kill, rape, and massacre Muslims who do not agree with their "holy war". Even if you are far left and disagree with everything I said.... they will have to walk over my dead body to get to your family, friends, or your beliefs!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

Good shooting Crazy horse, Well done . . .

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

Wow, then move to Iraq you idiot! It's war damn it! People don't sit around singing "Love Train" around a camp fire. These radical messengers of Islam bring only death to non muslims, you think they give a crap about our children or un armed men? Hell no! Grow up you wimp! Or get the heck out of Dodge, better yet, move to Pelosi's best town of San Francisco...you should fit right in! Ashamed to be American? I'm ashamed you are American, you ungrateful nincumpoops!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

What about journalist Daniel Pearl? Would he feel ashamed of the Iraqi's for slicing his throat? What a freecking weasel!!! You Liberals ' divide and conquer' mentality is only to get more American's killed on American soil because you tout how horrible we treat Muslim Radicals and Terrorist and how they should have the same rights as we do. Are you people mentally ill? Do you seriously think a person can be openly gay in a Muslim country? What about 1st Amendment rights? What about the 4th and 6th Amendments? They have their way to exact justice and it's called an AKA 47 and jihad!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2010 @ 4:31 am

War is Hell..... this is probably true, though I will never have chance to experience it. Those who are condemning these soldiers for what they did, killing innocents, sould consider that they are what we created. what the American system birthed in order to do this job. its not the men, but system which created them, that is to blame. but to those mothers and fathers of these troops, it is you who accepted that they enlist, and your sons and daughters who volunteered for the job. their sacrifice is great, but their mission is wrong. realized that it doesnt have to be this way. bad people exist, in Iraq as well as in America. We may have lost 3000 innocent to Saudi 'terrorists', if we must call them that, but the innocent lives lost in Iraq at the hands of American troops is vastly greater, lost every day in attacks from the sky, from people they didnt even know were there. we dont need to be there sacrificing our sons and daughters, simply to destroy their sons and daughters.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

Let me get this right, just in case I don’t understand.

1. US troops are under attack.
2. A group of armed men congregate, then move towards the fighting. Some are carrying AK47s, and at least one has an RPG. That called aggressive behaviour.
3. A gunship engages legitimate targets. (If you carry a gun in an gun fight, you will get shot at)
4. A van that was already under surveillance, and from which one man had emerged carrying an AK47, drives up and attempts to pick up the insurgents. That makes it a legitimate target.
5. The idiotic, moronic, stupid brain dead father has his kids sitting in the back!!!! This is in the middle of combat, and he is picking up and dropping off guys with weapons.

What am I missing here?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

Lotta Rednecks

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

Okay...is it me or do the RoE say that unless the "insurgents" shoot, you can't shoot back. Also, if the heli can't tell the difference between a camera lens and an RPG, then i wouldn't want them as backup (considering the amount of money that the goverment spends in their military tech). Btw, the radio talk is just....so....(for lack of a better word) Redneck. The last thing the pilot had to say was: Yeeja! howdee padner!

Seriously, i'd expect better tactics and judgement from the pilots. I love the marines and i know war ain't a pretty thing (it can be hell), but to miss two kids in a van (that were clearly there), to not have intel on who's the good and who's the bad... it's just bad warfare. And I know it's political, and the army try's to watch it's ass, but come on! higher command can't allow the marines give medical attention to two kids that got caught on the crossfire.....now there's a real son of a bitch....i'd like that commander or liutenant or whatever to get shot with a minigun round and have him driven around in a humvee for an hour, and see how he like's it! :P

oh well...what's happened, happened! i don't have to live with the death of an innocent in my conscience (i say this because of the radio talk....it's the part of the video that really pisses me off)

Posted by Guest pandaman on Sep. 20, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

you cares if the editing sucks. Honestly who would cares about his writing in with a video like that. As for all the anti-american people who think were a bunch of gun crazed psychos, how about you look at your own past. We have only been around a little over 200 hundred years and our criminal records hold nothing over a Japanese internment camp after Pearl Harbor, as for everyone else who holds a few bloodthirsty dictators and the killing of thousands of people because of their hair color or religion. Were fighting a nation of people who think its alright to throw rocks at someone until they are dead for showing ankle skin........and were the evil ones? For the record look at the guy holding the long tube with a rocket on the end behind the wall. i do not think camera men take cover from Apaches and point their cameras at them...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

It was some good shooting.

Posted by Andrew Smith on Dec. 05, 2010 @ 2:33 am

Iraq 1 US Army 0

Posted by Hero200946 on Dec. 17, 2010 @ 11:07 am

its war....thats all that needs to be said

Posted by Guestjtoothea on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

Im currently still serving in the army as an 11B. I've been to iraq for 2 tours with a combined total of 27 months. I saw the elephant (for those of you who have never been in combat.... don't even ask) in iraq its difficult to tell who the bad guys are unless they are shooting at you. Chances are if they are shooting at you then you can't even see them anyway. It all happens so fast. You either make a decision or that hesitation could mean your life. Put yourselves in those pilots shoes.... do you really wanna be hovering over a hostile city (every place in iraq is hostile) with your thumb up your ass?? I know I don't. Give these guys a break. If you think that video is bad you should witness the things that aren't on video lol. War is hell.... it always has been and always will be. If you can't take it then go to Switzerland. I hear they are very neutral when it comes to war. But don't mistake their kindness for a weakness lol.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 5:53 am

I think this country keeps getting itself into these wars is because we have never had a war fought on our own soil as a nation other than the civil war so we don't fully understand the consequences of starting wars with other nations

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

dude you can clearly see the guy witht the rpg sneaking around the corner.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2011 @ 3:35 am

i would have shot the dude more FUCK any one who dares even to thereat U.S.A
so FUCK u haterz u guys can suck myu ballz

Posted by beast on Apr. 04, 2011 @ 12:57 pm