Film shows Iraqis being shot dead by US copter
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A French TV channel was due to show footage of a US military helicopter shooting three fleeing Iraqis dead, though they did not appear to be posing any threat.
According to Matt Drudge, who runs an online news site, the show “Merci pour l’info” (Thanks for the news) obtained the footage, seen by an AFP correspondent, from a “European working as a subcontractor for the US army” who left Iraq two weeks ago. The man claims to have hidden the tape, dated lst December 2003 and filmed at an unidentified location in Iraq, at the US base where he lived and worked. The three-and-a-half minutes of footage were taken from the helicopter firing at the three individuals, who were considered by the US military to be suspicious.
According to the report, “Conversations between the helicopter pilot, the sharpshooter and their commanding officer — who had a video link and is giving orders in real time — can be heard on the tape. The footage shows how the three men were killed one after the other. After the deaths of his two companions, the third attempted to hide under a truck, but was hit by helicopter gunfire. ‘Got the guy right here,’ says the sharpshooter, as the wounded man is seen crawling on the ground. ‘Good. Fire. Hit him,’ replies the officer.” Amnesty International has said that “scores of civilians have been killed apparently as a result of excessive use of force by US troops, or have been shot dead in disputed circumstances.”
The last thing the Bush administration would have wished in the wake of the Iraqi prisoner torture pictures that have sent a shockwave of anger and disgust around the world, especially in Arab and Muslim countries, was more evidence that the US army has committed atrocities in Iraq. The Pentagon has refused to provide a figure for Iraqi military and civilian casualties since the invasion, but the number is said to run into the thousands.