After watching that video Truth Excavator linked to below, I got to wondering about context (which appears to be sorely lacking in said video). Fortunately, it appears the incident in question was investigated – twice – by the Army, who were courteous enough to write down the results of said investigations. Since the documents in question are large PDFs (9 MB total) at a difficult-to-remember URL (HT Steve & Wings Over Iraq), I figured I’d reproduce & post their text here.
My thoughts after reading these:
1. There were US troops in the vicinity, who had been taking fire. A group of men, at least some of them definitely armed, gathers at the corner of a building near said troops. One of those men points what appears to be an RPG around said corner, and aims it at a nearby Humvee. (It turns out the man was a journalist, and the “RPG” was actually a camera.) In context, it makes sense that the pilots thought the targeted individuals were about to fire on friendly troops.
2. Troops dispatched to investigate did discover several weapons among the bodies. By my count, there were 3 RPG launchers, 2 AK/AKMs, & an RPG round. See p. 3, pars. 6(g) & 6(j) of the 2nd BCT 15-6 investigation report. At least based upon these reports, it doesn’t sound like that crowd was all that innocent; rather, it appears the reporters really were tagging along w/ insurgents.
3. Re. the van shoot-up: From p. 4, par. 9 of the 2nd BCT 15-6 report:
…the Apache pilots thought the van was to be used as a means of escape for the wounded insurgents. The van arrives as if on cue, and is immediately joined by two military-aged males who appear from the nearby courtyard. The children are never seen, while the driver slides open a door and then retakes his seat while two other males attempt to load the first insurgent into the vehicle. It is unknown what, if any, connection the van had to the insurgent activity.
Following are the memoranda giving the results of both the AR 15-6 investigations by both the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
[Notes: I OCR’ed both of these; I tried to catch all the resultant misspellings, etc., but I may have missed some. All bold, italics, etc., in the following text was in the originals, except as subsequently indicated. I have taken the liberty of inserted bracketed page #’s to denote the start of each page. In addition, I’ve inserted the word CENSORED in areas of the text where stuff was, well, censored. Note that such censorship extended to more than words & phrases; e.g., in the “Recommendations” section of each memorandum, the size of the omission suggests the censorship of several sentences, or maybe even an entire paragraph or two.]
1st Air Cavalry Brigade AR 15-6 Memorandum
MEMORANDUM FOR Commander, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Multi-National Division – Baghdad), Camp Taji, Iraq, APO AE 09378
SUBJECT: Findings and Recommendations Pursuant to AR 15-6 Investigation into Conditions
Surrounding the Possible Death of Two Reuters Reporters during an Engagement on 12 July
2007 by Crazyhorse 18 and 19 in the New Baghdad District of Baghdad, Iraq (Zone 30)
1. Purpose. The purpose of this memorandum is to outline findings and recommendations pursuant to the aforementioned investigation with emphasis on decision making between aircrew members and communications between the attack weapons team (AWT) and the 2-2 ID (Strike) unit in contact.
a. On 12 July 2007, the AWT, call sign Crazyhorse 18 and 19, began their mission window at 0630 hours. Tasked to conduct escort, armed reconnaissance patrols, counter-TED and counter mortar operations over Baghdad from 0930 through 1330 hours, the team departed Camp Taji at 0924 hours and began conducting task in accordance with their planned scheme of maneuver. After escorting a team of UH-60s to COP Callahan and harmonizing their 30mrn cannons in Zone 101, the AWT was redirected to support troops in contact in Baghdad Security Zone 30. Soldiers from 2-16 IN were conducting operations in support of OPERATION ILAAJ (CURE) in the Mualameen Muhallah of Tisa Nisan District, East Baghdad. At 0953 hours, the AWT arrived on station and began operations in support of B/1-26 IN.
b. Upon arriving on station, sporadic attacks on friendly forces continued. The AWT conducted local security operations and initiated a reconnaissance effort to find, report, and destray hostile forces engaging our brothers on the ground. At 1019 hours, Crazyhorse 19 (trail aircraft) identified personnel with weapons (AK-47s and a RPG), both held and slung over the shoulder, in the vicinity of an open area East of the friendly unit’s position and approximately one city block away. Having positively identified personnel with weapons, the AWT initiated an engagement sequence.
c. Maintaining contact with the threat and knowledgeable of friendly locations, the AWT maneuvered to engage. On the downwind leg of a racetrack pattern, Crazyhorse 18’s copilot/gunner (lead aircraft- front seat) perceived an escalation of the immediate threat to our ground troops afier observing an individual peering around a building, preparing to fire an RPG at a friendly HMMWV positioned at the end of the block. Crazyhorse 18’s pilot (lead aircraft – back seat) viewed the copilot/gunner’s TADS imagery and confirmed his assessment after quickly looking outside the aircraft and acquiring the threat without optics. Seconds later,
Crazyhorse 19 (trail aircraft) observed the same individual. At this point, the individual was in a crouched, firing position with his weapon pointed towards friendly troops. Having observed a hostile act, the team continued to transition for the attack. At 1021 hours, the AWT engaged approximately 8 military-age-males eliminating the immediate threat to friendly ground forces less than 200 meters away.
d. Following the cngagement, Crazyhorse 18 and 19 remained on station overwatching the engagement area and conducting reconnaissance along the ground patrol’s ingress route. At 1026 hours and along with the ground patrol’s entry into the engagement area, a black van arrived to retrieve one of the wounded insurgents. Crazyhorse 18 requested immediate clearance to engage the van, received it, and completely disabled the vehicle within seconds. The R/1-26 IN patrol continued to the engagement area to assess and exploit the scene and immediately established a cordon. The AWT remained on station conducting reconnaissance in search of insurgents still firing on friendly ground forces.
a. The AWT was on a directed mission; conducted the appropriate check-in with ground elements in contact; and received an adequate situation report describing the current status and disposition of forces on the ground. At this point, the AWT began to develop the situation in concert with the ground element in contact and maintained positive identification of friendly locations throughout the supported period. As the situation developed, the AWT exercised sound judgment and discrimination during attempts to acquire insurgents, or moreover, to identify personnel engaged in hostile or threatening activities against our brothers on the ground.
b. The AWT accurately assessed that the criteria to find and terminate the threat to friendly forces were met in accordance with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement. Fundamental to all engagements is the principle of military necessity. This was clearly established and supported by the friendly forces inherent right to self defense and the ground commander’s obligation to ensure all necessary means were employed to defend or protect his Soldiers from hostile acts. In this case, the AWT was employed to destroy insurgents attempting to kill friendly forces. The attack weapons team:
(1). Positively Identified the Treat: The AWT, with reasonable certainty, identified military aged males both in a location and with weapons consistent with reports of hostile acts conducted against friendly forces. While observing this group of individuals, the AWT satisfied all requirements to initiate an engagement.
(2). Established hostile intent: Hostile intent was exhibited by armed insurgents peering around the corner of a home to monitor the movement or activities of friendly forces and
confirmed by the presence of those personnel carrying an RPG and AK-47s. These weapon systems were reported in the initial check-in as the type used to engage friendly forces.
(3). Conducted collateral damage assessment: The AWT accurately assessed that using the 30mm cannon was proportionally appropriate to omit the threat while reducing the probability of excessive damage to surrounding structures, vehicles and real property in the area
(4). Received clearance of fires: Having already identified through voice communications. physical markings and ultimately visual recognition of friendly positions, the AWT again requested and received clearance from the ground unit that there were no Friendly forces in the engagement area.
c. Only after an extensive review of the AWT’s gun-camera video and with knowledge of the two missing media personnel, is it reasonable to deduce that two of the individuals intermixed among the insurgents located in the engagement area may have been reporters. There was neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces. It is worth noting the fact that insurgent groups often video and photograph friendly activity and insurgent attacks against friendly forces for use in training videos and for use as propaganda to exploit or highlight their capabilities. The aircrews erroneously identified the cameras as weapons due to presentation (slung over shoulder with the body of the object resting at the back, rear of the torso) and association (personnel colocated with others having RPGs and AK-47s).
5. The point of contact for this investigation is the undersigned at: Phone – CENSORED (SVOIP) or CENSORED (DSN); email – CENSORED or CENSORED
Deputy Brigade Commander
1st Air Cavalry Brigade AR 15-6 Memorandum
MEMORANDUM FOR Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
(MND-B), Baghdad, Iraq
SUBJECT: 15-6 Investigation of’ Civilian Casualties Resulting from an Engagement on 12 July
2007 in the New Baghdad District of Baghdad, Iraq
1. The purpose of this memorandum is to detail the findings and recommendations of my 15-6 investigation into the presence of noncombatants during an engagement that occurred on the morning of 12 July, 2007 in Zone 30, Mualameen Muhallah, of Tisa Nisan District, East Baghdad, as part of OPERA’I’ION ILAAJ (CURE).
2. The appointing authority (Colonel CENSORED 2BCT Commander) directed me to issue findings and recommendations covering the following areas of inquiry:
a. Describe the nature of the injuries of two local national children discovered by 2- 16th Infantry Battalion. Make a recommendation whether any condolence or claims payment is warranted.
b. Assess whether Mr. Namir Noor-Eldeen or Mr. Saeed Chmagh (Employees of Reuters News Corporation), were killed during the hostile fire engagement based on all available evidence.
c. Assess any relevant issues, including the use of force, by members of 2nd Brigade Combat Team. If you come into any evidence concerning the conduct of other individuals, refer the matter to your legal advisor.
3. 1 began the investigation by contacting MAJ CENSORED (2-1 6 IN S3) and arranging to interview the Bravo Company, 2-1 6 Infantry soldiers who first arrived at the scene at the engagement after the helicopter engagement. Once these interviews were completed, I reviewed the gun-camera tapes from the 1st Cavalry Division’s Apache Helicopters that were in direct support of the ground maneuver elements for OPERATION ILAAJ, the clearance of Zone 30 in the Mualameen Muhallah of Tisa Nisan (New Baghdad).
4. From the witness statements and the Apache gun-camera film (Screen Print Exhibit A), I determined that the engagement in which the Iraqi children were injured and the two Reuters News employees were killed began at 1020 hours (local Baghdad time, Zulu +4), at grid coordinates CENSORED. The Bravo Company 2- 16 soldiers were within 100 meters of the location of a group of armed insurgents and two individuals carrying cameras when Apache helicopters engaged the insurgents with 30mm gunfire. The engagement concluded with the evacuation of casualties at 1041 hours.
5. Bravo Company 2-16 Infantry had been under sporadic small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire since OPERATION ILAAJ began at dawn on the morning of the 12th of July. The company had the mission of clearing their sector and looking for weapons caches. Two Apache helicopters from the 1st Cavalry Division’s Aviation Brigade (call signs “Crazyhorse 18” and “Crazyhorse 19”) were in direct support to the ground maneuver force and were monitoring the Bravo Company radio frequency.
6. The following sequence of events is derived from a review of the gun-camera film. The gin camera film was a video burned onto a compact disc which I received from my legal advisor. The video provided me an accurate timeline of cvcnts and allowed me to corroborate or deny other eye witness testimony received into evidence. However, it must be noted that details which are readily apparent when viewed on a large video monitor are not necessarily apparent to the Apache pilots during a live-fire engagement. First of all, the pilots are viewing the scene on a much smaller screen than I had for my review. Secondly, a pilot’s primary concern is with flying his helicopter and the safety of his aircraft. Third, the pilots are continuously tracking the movement of friendly forces in order to prevent fratricide. Fourth, since Bravo Company had been in near continuous contact since dawn, the pilots were looking primarily for armed insurgents. Lastly, there was no information leading anyone to believe or even suspect that noncombatants were in the area. Although useful, an analysis of the engagement captured on the video is beyond the scope of my investigation and the subject of a collateral investigation. The digits appearing before the exhibit are the time derived from the Apache video footage. 0619:37 is 0600 hours, 19 minutes, and 37 seconds, Greenwich Mean or ZULU ‘rime. Baghdad local time is 4 hours later.
a. 0619:37 Z (Exhibit A Photo). As the Apaches orbit counterclockwise, eleven military-aged males dressed in Western-style pants and shirts, are seen walking northward toward a wall vicCENSORED Two individuals can be seen carrying cameras with large telephoto lenses slung from their right shoulders. While two other males can be seen carrying an RPG launcher and an AKM. The cameras could be easily mistaken for slung AK-47 or AKM rifles, especially since neither cameraman is wearing anything that identifies him as media or press.
b. 0620:07 Z (Exhibit B Photo). Two individuals are seen openly displaying an RPG and an AKM, while a third individual carries what appears to be an RPG round. The rest of the military-aged males are obscured by the building in the foreground.
c. 0620:34 Z (Exhibit C Photo). One of the cameramen is seen peering from behind the wall looking west toward the approaching Bravo Company soldiers. The voice on the gun tape mistakenly identifies the long telephoto lens as an RPG.
d. 0620:38 Z (Exhibit D). The cameraman raises the camera to sight through the viewfinder and his action appears prompts one of the pilots to remark “He’s getting ready to fire.” Photos later recovered from the camera show a US Army HMMWV sitting at an intersection, less than 100 meters away from the camera. The digital time/date stamp on the photo indicates that these photos were the ones taken as the cameraman peered from behind the wall (Exhibit R). Due to the furtive nature of his movements, the cameraman gave every appearance of preparing to fire an RPG on US soldiers.
e. 0621:07 Z (Exhibit E Photo). As the Apache continues his orbit and clears the buildings he gains a clear view of the insurgents. Both cameramen are visible within a very tight circle of armed insurgents. An RPG launcher and an AKM are also visible at this point and all military-aged males are clustered within a two-meter radius. The Apache engages seconds later, apparently killing eight of the nine military-aged males.
f. 0626:03 Z (Exhibit F Photo). As ground forces approach the engagement area, A black van with white paint on the roof'(erroneous1y reported as both a white van and a bongo truck) arrives. Two military-aged males and the vehicle’s driver then attempt to load one of the wounded insurgents into the van. The Apache pilot requests permission to engage the van in order to prevent the escape of the insurgents. Bushmaster 7 responds “This is Bushmaster 7, Roger, engage.” The Apaches engage disabling the van seconds later.
g. 0631:53 Z (Exhibit G Photo). The first elements of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry arrive on scene and begin to secure the area. They discover two RPGs and an AK-47 or AKM among the group of insurgents clustered near the wall. They also discovered two Canon EOS digital cameras with large telephoto lenses attached in the immediate vicinity of the bodies. The Soldiers gathered the two Canon digital cameras at the site as evidence for analysis. Two of the Military-aged males are still alive and the soldiers on scene render first aid and call for a medic.
h. 0639:44 Z (Exhibit N Photo). Bravo Company soldiers searching the van find an Iraqi girl approximately four years old with penetrating wounds to her torso, and evacuate her to FOB LOYALTY.
i. 0641:11 Z (Exhibit I Photo). Another Bravo Company soldier finds that an Iraqi male approximately eight years old is still alive after sustaining several penetrating wounds to various parts of his body, and evacuates that child as well. Both children were evacuated to FOB LOYALTY and then to 28th CSH on 12 July. Both children were then transferred to Medical City, an Iraqi controlled treatment facility, on 13 July 2007.
j. (Exhibits J-P Statements). As Bravo Company secured the scene, they continued to take small arms tire and were not able to conduct a detailed sensitive site exploitation of the engagement area. Pictures taken at the time (Exhibit P), reveal one of the digital cameras with a sand-colored telephoto lens attached as well as an AK/AKM and an additional RPG launcher with a loaded round still in it. The body lying closest to the camera had an RPG round underneath it (later destroyed by EOD). Not one of the soldiers present recalled seeing any indications of either media/press badges or photographers’ vests to indicate that noncombatants were on scene. Bravo Company soldiers remained on scene until Iraqi Security Forces arrived to take charge of the bodies and weapons. The two digital cameras were turned in for analysis when Bravo Company elements returned to FOB RUSIMYAH later that afternoon.
k. By the late afternoon of 12 July, Iraqi Security Forces had recovered the press identification badges from the bodies of the Reuters employees and returned them to Reuters. I was unable to determine exactly where and when the identification was returned, and inquiries to Reuters have not yet been answered. By the afternoon of July 12th, Reuters was running the
story that two of their personnel had been killed on assignment in Baghdad in an engagement with US Forces (Exhibit S).
7. The Document Exploitation Team at FOB RUSTIMYAH conducted an examination of the media cards in the cameras and extracted hundreds of photos from each. Of significance are photos of MG Lynch taken at a press conference on 24 June, 2007, indicating that the photographer had press credentials in order to gain access to the Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC), in Baghdad’s Green Zone (Exhibit R). Additional photos from one of the Canon digital cameras recovered on site (see Exhibit Q) show a male who appears to be Namir Noor- Eldeen based on the fact he is wearing an identical shirt to the one shown in the Reuters article (Exhibit S).
a. I havc nothing which conclusively identifies the bodies of the two Reuters affiliates. The ground forces were still receiving small arms fire and did not have sufficient time or personnel to photograph or search the bodies for identification. Once Iraqi Security Forces arrived, that tasked was assumed by the lraqi Police.
b. I know that two military-aged males are seen carrying cameras which match the description of the CANON EOS cameras carried by Mr. Noor-Aldeen. Those cameras were recovered at the scene by soldiers from Bravo Company 2- 16 TN, and the images recovered from their media cards showed images consistent with professional photographers and images which appear to be of Mr. Noor Aldeen himself.
c. I conclude that the two Reuters affiliates were in the company of the armed insurgents who had bccn firing on members of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, at the time of the engagement, as Bravo Company and Iraqi Security Forces attempted to clear Zone 30 as part of OPERA’I’ION ILAAJ on the morning of 12 July, 2007. The preponderance of the evidence leads me to conclude that Mr. Namir Noor-Eldeen and Mr. Saeed Chmagh were killed on 12 July during the engagement by Apache helicopters.
d. I conclude that the presence of the Reuters employees was not known to any of the US Forces operating in the area that morning. The cameramen made no effort to visibly display their status as press or media representatives and their familiar behavior with, and close proximity to, the armed insurgents and their furtive attempts to photograph the Coalition Ground Forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them. Furthermore, the mere fact that two individuals carried cameras instead of weapons would not indicate that they were noncombatants as the enemy commonly employ cameramen to film and photograph their attacks on Coalition Forces.
9. As to the presence of the children in the black van, it is obvious from the radio transmissions on the gun-camera tapes that the Apache pilots thought the van was to be used as a means of escape for the wounded insurgents. The van arrives as if on cue, and is immediately joined by two military-aged males who appear from the nearby courtyard. The children are never seen, while the driver slides open a door and then retakes his seat while two other males attempt to
load the first insurgent into the vehicle. It is unknown what, if any, connection the van had to the insurgent activity.
10, Recommendations. My recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar casualties in the future are as follows:
11. POC for this investigation is the undersigned at VOIP phone CENSORED or SIPR email CENSORED