As far back as March 2003, skeptical yet disturbing reports have leaked out of Iraq telling of the discovery of mass graves containing the corpses of
Westerners, and of black body bags being dumped from U.S. helicopters into rivers under cover of darkness. In August 2003, a Reuters reporter
investigating these claims was shot and killed by "friendly fire". Then, in September 2004, Islamic websites posted photographs of an apparent mass
grave containing what were claimed to be the bodies of 16 Western soldiers. Finally, in November 2004, a video taken at the scene of the same mass
grave was published on the Web. The reports are, at best, difficult to believe and have generally been dismissed as propaganda spread by Islamic
websites affiliated with insurgents in Iraq. Let's take a closer look.
In August 2003, award-winning Reuters cameraman-reporter, Mazen Dana, was shot and killed by the U.S.
military. Dana was a veteran of conflict reporting, much of his career spent focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the course of reporting on
the Intifada uprisings
, he was shot and wounded several times by Israeli forces.
Click images for award description and biography respectively.
According to family and colleagues, before his death Dana related to them how he had discovered and filmed mass graves dug by the U.S military
containing the bodies of soldiers killed in battles with Iraqi insurgents, as well as the bodies of U.S. troops in plastic bags in remote desert areas
of Iraq. A piece by colleague, Kawther Salam, describes the discovery:
Secret Burials in the Desert
Mazen's scoop began when he realized that that the U.S. troops were burying human bodies wrapped in plastic in the desert. Initially, he thought that
these were the bodies of Iraqi people. He kept watching and investigating the activities of the U.S. troops. He kept developing his scoop, working
around different U.S. units and military jails, trying to figure out where the bodies had come from, and whether they were Iraqi or not.
Ultimately he found a source, a U.S. mercenary, who told him that those buried were not Iraqis, but mercenaries who had been promised green cards and
U.S. citizenship in return for serving in the U.S. Army. Besides, according to this source, not few of those interred were Americans who had been
killed in combat. Mazen had been able to film the activities of the U.S. army, and their secret mass graves.
Just days before his death, Dana supposedly contacted his family and told them he felt the U.S. army intelligence was watching him, and that he feared
for his life.
Secret Burials in the Desert (cont...)
Since he had become aware of what the Americans were doing in the desert, he kept the secret to himself. The intelligence units of the U.S. Army
probably knew that Mazen was uncovering, and they must have feared that their secret desert burials would expose the Pentagon and the Army for
involvement in a big scandal.
During his last days, Mazen felt that the U.S. Army were observing him. Ten days before his death, he called home to Hebron and told his family that
he feared for his life because of the story he was investigating, and he promised them to return as soon as he had finished his research.
ACCIDENT, OR ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE?
At noon on Sunday August 17, 2003, just days after a U.S. tank fired on the
Palestine Hotel killing two Reuters
(video - relevant report at 6:00 mark), Dana and sound technician Nael al-Shyoukhi were filming just outside the now infamous Abu
Ghraib detention facility. The two journalists apparently had been cleared to film the area by military officials, and had just left the base after
asking for permission to interview an officer there. Dana got out of the vehicle to film a U.S. tank approaching the base. It was then that the
tank's machine-gunner shot at Dana, striking him in the chest and killing him. Following the event, spokespersons for the Pentagon stated that the
tank crew mistook Dana's camera for a shoulder-mounted grenade launcher.
Journalist's Death Sparks an Outcry - www.usatoday.com
Below - A frame capture from Dana's camera of the U.S. tank just
Dana's camera apparently was mistaken for a grenade launcher, even though he and his crew had been cleared by military officials.
Dana, the 15th journalist killed in the Iraq conflict, was the second Reuters journalist to die by U.S. tank fire in Iraq. His death came days after a
controversial military investigation cleared U.S. forces of improper conduct in the deaths of two journalists in a Baghdad hotel in April. The
military released selected portions of that report, prompting Reuters to demand a "full and public disclosure" of whatever any investigation into
Sunday's shooting reveals. "We want the public to be able to see the report," spokesman Kyle Arteaga says.
"I saw Mazen. He screamed one time, and he was putting his hand on his chest and fell down," Nael al-Shyoukhi, who had been working with Dana as a
sound technician, told the Associated Press.
"I saw the American soldiers around us, and I screamed to the same soldier who shot him ... 'You see him with a camera; why did you shoot him?'
"Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
before the soldier on top opened fired and killed him.
Dana's family suspects that he was murdered by the U.S. military to prevent his investigations on the mass graves being made public.
Reuters Cameraman Killed For Filming U.S. Graves: Brother
AL-KHALIL, West Bank, August 19 (IslamOnline.net) - The brother of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana said he was deliberately murdered for discovering mass
graves of U.S. troops killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.
"The U.S. troops killed my brother in cold blood," Nazmi Dana told IslamOnline.net in exclusive statements.
"The U.S. occupation troops shot dead my brother on purpose, although he was wearing his press badge, which was also emblazoned on the car he was
driving," he said.
He also recalled that his brother had obtained a prior permit from the U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq to film in the site.
"Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades
killed in Iraqi resistance attacks," Nazmi said.
"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure
that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from airing his finding."
A GRUESOME DISCOVERY
Dana's death, and his purported investigations faded into the fog of war until September
2004, when images began circulating on Islamic websites, such as albasrah.net, showing an unearthed mass grave which contained the bodies of - they
allege - sixteen foreigners. The corpses appeared to be at an advanced state of decay and somewhat mummified by the dry sand.
The hyperlinks below link to websites showing the images. Discretion is advised as the images are of a graphic nature
**WARNING!! GRAPHIC CONTENT - DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE
TO GRAPHIC IMAGES**
**WARNING!! GRAPHIC CONTENT - DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO
The images show mummified corpses in black body bags, stripped of all clothing and any items by which they might be identified. The least decayed of
the bodies appears to possess Western features and complexion, and shows a Western-style tattoo on the upper right arm. Another photograph, however,
shows a corpse that, if not wrapped in a sheet, is wearing what could be traditional Muslim robes.
Two months after these images were released, an apparent video of the event was published on abolkhaseb.net, and later picked up by other Islamic
websites. A link to the video is provided below. Discretion is advised as the video images are of a graphic nature
. (4.4Mb - Windows Media)
**WARNING!! GRAPHIC CONTENT - DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO GRAPHIC
According to notorious website, jihadunspun.com, the narrator lists reasons why the corpses can be identified as foreigners:
•The bodies are tall, unlike Iraqis or many other Middle Eastern nationalities.
•The bodies were wrapped in the type of plastic bags used only by Americans.
•Their complexions when the bodies are not completely burned and could be inspected are mostly white.
•Their teeth are well maintained unlike those of individuals in poorer countries like Iraq.
The jihadunspun article also states that the report accompanying the video mentions that:
...interviews with some soldiers and officers who
refused to give their names confirmed the identity of soldiers and the validity of the findings, in addition to the Iraqi fishermen who witnessed the
dumping of bodies into the river by copters in the early hours of the morning over a long period of time.
Comparing the video with the photographs originally published, an inconsistency is apparent. The
photograph of the Western-looking body and the photograph of the body in a white sheet/robes do not appear in the video
. This, combined with
the much less decayed appearance of both of those two corpses, would perhaps indicate that those images were deliberately added in with the real
pictures of the mass grave in order to give a false impression, and thereby attempt to corroborate the claim that the corpses were of foreigners.
Without the image of the tattooed body, the only evidence possibly pointing to the bodies being of Western origin lies in the body bags, and the
condition of the corpses' teeth. Conclusions based on apparent complexion could most likely be ruled out due to the state of decay, plus the
bleaching effect of the sand and mummification. Conclusions based on height are too vague to be considered evidence. The claim that Iraqis are shorter
than Westerners is a gross generalization.
So, it seems that without further examination of the corpses, or further evidence coming to light, the bodies unearthed at Fallujah will remain John
Does. Are they coalition soldiers? Are they, as Internet rumour says, amateur mercenaries - illegal aliens from the United States promised a green
card in return for service on the front line? Or are they Iraqi victims of one of Saddam Hussein's previous massacres?
A few more questions need to be asked; some of which admittedly do not rule out the "green card mercenary" theory, and they are:
How often do soldiers make contact with their families? Some of the Islamic websites publishing this content have cited the Pentagon's
attempts to hide casualty rates as motivation for the mass graves and alleged body dumps. The claim that these are U.S. soldiers seems impossible,
since the casualties would be impossible to hide. You can't make a soldier "not be dead" by hiding the body. When a soldier failed to contact
his/her family or failed to return from a tour of duty, the military would have to declare that soldier either KIA - body not retrieved, or MIA, thus
precluding any attempt to hide casualty figures.
Would American or coalition soldiers seriously do this to their own comrades in arms? I should imagine officers would have a "mutiny" on
their hands if they asked soldiers to commit such an act.
If Mazen Dana actually did film the U.S. military digging such graves an/or bodies in bags in remote regions of Iraq, then what happened to
the film? Who has it now?
I must admit, if it weren't for the death of respected journalist Mazen Dana combined with the mention of the nature of his investigations as made by
his colleagues and family, I would have rapidly dismissed these claims of mass graves and body dumps as mere fictional propaganda. As it stands, I am
still undecided. I realize that I have set myself up to be scorned and derided for even spending the time to investigate claims made by "the enemy".
So be it, my only agenda is the truth.
Your thoughts, observations or findings?
EDIT: Fixed video link.
Recipe For Terror: Assassinated Reuters Cameraman Uncovered Evidence of Mass US Casualties
Calls for Probe into Killing of Cameraman
Soldiers found in shallow graves
New Report, Footage Surfaces On Mass Graves Of US Soldiers
Cameraman Killed While Filming the Truth in Iraq?
Weapons of Mass Deception: New Film Documents How the Corporate Media Muzzled the
Truth About Iraq
Dead recruit's father wages campaign against 'green card Marines'
US attacked over green card soldiers
[edit on 2005/5/23 by wecomeinpeace]