CAIRO: A 2007 video showing US military helicopters attacking and killing unarmed civilians, including two journalists, was published Monday by Wikileaks, a website disclosing leaked official documents.
At a press conference on April 5, Wikileaks said that it had acquired the encrypted video of the July 12, 2007 attack from military whistleblowers.
A dozen civilians, including two journalists from the Reuters news agency, were killed by a United States Air Force helicopter that day. The perpetrators claimed the victims were suspected of carrying arms.
After the incident, Reuters demanded that the US investigate the killings, and requested access to the sound and video material recorded in the helicopter. However, access was denied.
Now that a military whistleblower leaked the video to Wikileaks, a US defense official confirmed its authenticity, according to the Washington Post.
The 17-minute video, taken from the gunsight of the attacking helicopter, as well as the conversation between the pilots and the ground unit, displays the entire scene, from spotting the victims until the end of the attack.
“One of them has a weapon, one of the pilots said before opening fire. But it turned out that the supposedly armed insurgents were Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, two journalists carrying cameras, and not, as assumed by the pilots, AK-47 guns.
“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force, Colonel Scott Bleichwehl, US forces spokesman in Baghdad, stated shortly after the incident.
“Light them all up. Come on, let’s fire! one cockpit voice impatiently said, heating up his colleague, who exclaimed after his first shooting: “Hahaha, I hit ’em. After the view cleared off from the dust of the bombing, one voice adds: “Oh yeah! Look at those dead bastards. Nice.
When a van arrived to pick up the bodies, one of the helicopter pilots requested a second permission to “engage . He said: “If we see a weapon, we’re gonna engage . Looking at a wounded man, he said, “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.
“Come on, let us shoot, one voice adds, impatiently waiting for permission to attack.
“Oh yeah, look at that, right through the windshield. Haha, one pilot comments.
When the ground forces later tell them that two children, who were sitting in front seat of the van, were found wounded, they said: “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.
“We aim for maximum political impact, states the website of award-winning Wikileaks.
Launched in 2006, the website aims at disclosing leaked documents from governments and other organizations while guaranteeing anonymity to the whistleblowers, to protect them from political persecution.
“The site serves as an uncensorable and untraceable depository for the truth. It takes power away from the powerful and hands it to citizens, a controversial but essential example of what the web does best, praised the Guardian in an article published on Oct. 22, 2009.