Collateral Murder Video
[Revised 13 Apr 2011; original posting 3 Mar 2011]
An earlier posting on this website
examined Wikileaks' unedited Collateral Murder video
a few days after it appeared online in April 2010. The analysis found
no significant discrepancies between what is seen in the classified
video and what was reported in the US Army's official investigation of
the July 12, 2007 massacre that resulted in the deaths of two Reuters
employees. In fact, the Army's report cleared up many
issues unaddressed by Wikileaks and put the helicopter attack in the
perspective of an ongoing military operation.
A lot has happened since the publication of Collateral Murder.
- Wikileaks published secret Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs.
These two massive data bases contain the secret records of military
actions and incidents, as recorded by soldiers on the ground, over a
six year period ending in 2010.
- Wikileaks began publishing US diplomatic cables containing
private messages sent among hundreds of embassies and consulates
worldwide. There are 262,000 cables in the database and individual
cables are now being published at a rate of a couple of hundred per day.
- Bradley Manning, a noncommissioned army intelligence specialist,
has been accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video, the
Iraq and Afghan war logs and the diplomatic cables. He is now being
held in solitary confinement in a US prison. On March 3, 2011 he was formally
crimes, including "aiding the enemy," a capital
- As a result of pressure from the US government (or maybe a desire
to curry favor with the government), US companies have acted to weaken
the Wikileaks organization. Specifically, Amazon has kicked Wikileaks
off its servers. Mastercard, Visa and PayPal refuse to process money
transfers to Wikileaks.
- US news organizations, especially the New York Times,
have been hostile to Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange. This
hostility, however, has not stopped them from making full use of
Wikileaks revelations in their reporting. Foreign outlets, such as the
UK Guardian and German Der Spiegel, have been less
hostile, but sometimes critical.
- Julian Assange, an Australian, has become an international
celebrity. At the same time he has been fighting
from England to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual misconduct with
two Swedish women. The UK court has ordered that he should be
extradited and his lawyers are appealing the ruling. Assange says he
does not fear the rape charges. Rather, he fears that
Sweden will turn him over to the US, where politicians want him charged
with treason(!) and espionage.
One might ask, in all the excitement mentioned above, why should
there still be interest in the Collateral
Murder video, the Wikileaks' first major Iraq war leak? Well,
additional information has come to light and we now have a clearer
picture of the events from July 12, 2007. Some of that information came from
other government leaks, some came from independent journalists and some
came from witnesses who came forward after the massacre. We now know
that twelve men were killed and two children were wounded in the Apache
attack on the New Baghdad courtyard. Of the twelve men killed, ten had
no weapons and no means for threatening US troops in the area.
Nevertheless, the Army's official record says that only seven men were
killed and they were all "anti-Iraqi" forces," i.e. enemies. The Army's
reporting of this incident reveals the murderous logic of the rules of engagement: any adult male
killed by an Apache helicopter in Iraq is an insurgent. If he weren't
an insurgent, the gunner's superior wouldn't have authorized killing
Still, reality-seekers want to know,
The paragraphs below survey available online resourses that shed light on the Collateral Murder
. Because of furor over release of secret US files,
Wikileaks lost its old domain at www.wikileaks.org. If you try to go
there, you will be redirected to
which displays a list of mirror sites that now host Wikileaks. A fairly
reliable one is in Switzerland.
Currently their main page has links to the Cablegate files, the Afghan
War files, the Iraq War files and the Collateral Murder videos. The
latter are at
Three videos are available here: (1) the 17-minute edited version of
the attack on the crowd including the Reuters employees and the attack
a couple of minutes later on the van; (2) the 38-minute unedited
version, showing everything from of the 17-minute version plus a
Hellfire missile attack on a nearby building; and (3) a heavily edited
version of a speech by Ethan McCord, a soldier who witnessed the
results of the massacre. There are links to: (1) pages
containing: about 64 still images from the unedited video; (2) a
timeline of events during the engagement; (3) a transcript of the audio
during the engagement; (4) a page containing (a) links (broken ones) to
rules-of-engagement documents, (b) a short video showing the wife and
children of the van driver killed in the attack, (c) links to
fourteen news stories about the incident and people killed, and (d)
seventeen miscellaneous images related to the incident. Among the
images are readable copies of the medical reports describing injuries
to the two Iraqi children.
The 17-minute edited video
gives some background information on the two Reuters journalists killed
and identifies them in the crowd of Iraqis. Unfortunately, it gives the
misleading impression that the sole reason the massacre occurred was
that the helicopter crew misidentified cameras as weapons. In fact,
it's clear from closely examining the unedited video that one
of the Iraqis killed in the initial cannon burst is holding an RPG and
another has an AK-47.
Still image two minutes before the attack:
Two seconds before the attack:
The Army Report
. Its title is
"Investigation Into Civilian Casualties Resulting From an
Engagement of 12 July 2007 in the New Baghdad District of Baghdad,
Iraq." It was released by the Army as a result of an FOIA request.
The 43-page document contains (1) a memo directing an officer (all
names are redacted) to investigate the engagement that resulted in the
deaths of the two civilian employees of Reuters and injuries sustained
by two children in the van that came under attack, (2) a five-page
memo, dated July 17, 2007, giving the background of the incident and
the conclusions of the investigation, and (3) a collection of exhibits
A through S. The exhibits include nine annotated Apache gun camera
stills, sworn statements by five soldiers who arrived on the scene
immediately after the engagement, and some digital images recovered
from a camera belonging to Namir Eldeen, the Reuters photographer.
It explains the military mission underway at the time of the helicopter
Bravo Company 2-16 Infantry had been under sporadic
and rocket-propelled grenade fire since Operation ILAAJ began at dawn
on the morning of 12th of July 2007. The Company had the mission of
clearing the sector and looking for weapons caches. Two Apache
helicopters from the First Cavalry Division's Aviation Brigade (call
signs "Crazy Horse 18" and "Crazy Horse 19") were in direct support to
the ground maneuver force and were monitoring the Bravo Company radio
The report goes on to examine the gun-camera video and concludes the
helicopter crew mistakenly identified cameras as weapons. However, the
report points out that one individual targeted by the Apache had an
AK-47, another had an RPG and a third may have been carrying two extra
Among the report's exhibits are three photos from the Reuters
reporter's camera that show a US Army HMMWV (Hummer) less than 100
meters away. The photo time stamps indicate they were taken immediately
before the helicopter attack. Obviously, this HMMWV might have been a
target for the RPG.
The report's recommendations are redacted, but it's clear no one in the
Army is going to be censured for killing civilians.
Apparently every action taken by the Army in this massacre complied
with the rules of engagement.
The Army report (6.5 MB pdf) can be downloaded from an official
MB) is on the Cryptome site.
loading version is here
The Wikileaks Iraq War Log Entry for
. The UK Guardian
got hands-on access
to the Wikileaks Iraq/Afghanistan logs and built a nice search engine
selecting individual logs.
One of the log
entries they published online
|| DIRECT FIRE(Small Arms) ON 2/E/1-8 CAV IVO (ZONE 30): 2 CIV
WIA 13 AIF KIA 2 AIF WIA
|| UNIT: 2/2ID
WHO: 2/E/1-8 CAV
WHERE: MB 5410 8622
WHEN: 120950 JUL07
COMP OF PATROL:
4 X M2A2
16 X US PAX
0950: 2/E/1-8 CAV REPORTS WHILE ASSISTING 2/16 IN WITH A RAID IN
MUHALLA 733 BY CORDONING OFF AREA, THEY RECEIVED SAF FROM THE MUHALLAS
TO THE NORTH. PATROL COULD NOT PID THE SHOOTER
1025: CRAXYHORSE ENGAGED AIF AT GRID MB 532 845 7X AIF KIA 2XWIA LN
CHILDEREN 1 GSW TO STOMACH AND 1 UKN EVAC TO LOYALTY.
1030: H/2-16 RECIEVING RPG W/SAF.
1100: SENDING AMBULANCE AND FIRE DEPT TO GRID MB 545 862
1109: CRAZYHORSE ENGAGED 4XAIF 2X WIA ON A ROOFTOP AT GRID MB 5514 8626.
1125: CRAZYHORSE ENGAGED WITH 3XMISSLE 6XAIF WITH WEPONS THAT RAN INTO
A BUILDINGAT GRID MB 5514 8626. BUILDING DESTROYED 6X AIF KIA.
1 X SAF ATTACK
0 X US CAS
0 X US BDA
13 X AIF KIA
2 X AIF WIA
2 X LN CHILDREN WIA
2 X ENEMY BDA (1X BUILDING, 1X VEHICLE)
|Type of unit
|Host nation WIA
|Host nation KIA
||MND-B OPS LNO
|Updated by group
|| 5 - EVENTS THAT MAY ELICIT POLITICAL, MEDIA, OR
Check out the Summary section above. Note that only the actions at 1025
and 1125 are covered in the Collateral
the infantry soldiers who swarmed the scene a couple of minutes after
the helicopter attack. He can be seen on the Collateral Murder
the wounded boy.
By the time of the Wikileaks revelations he was out of the Army. He
came forward to express his revulsion at the indiscriminate human
destruction in the 2007 Apache attack
. Here's a Youtube video of
giving a short speech about his experience.
Here's some background
on McCord and the transcript of an interview he
with wired.com in April 2010.
Media Reports on the Incident.
New York Times report
Apache assault shortly after it happened (July 13, 2007).
Democracy Now! video/transcript
of Amy Goodman interview with Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald (April
of the family of the two wounded children (April 7, 2010).
New Yorker comment
Hellfire missile attack (April 7, 2010).
family of the slain van driver. (October 25, 2010).
entitled "July 27, 2007 Baghdad airstrike."
Satellite View of the Attack Area
Coordinates of the "courtyard" are 33.313785, 44.511853. This spot is
about seven miles east of the fortified Green Zone of
Baghdad. If you put
these numbers into Google Maps or Google Earth, you'll see:
Below is an annotated map of the scene of the massacre.
What Really Happened
From the video, the army report, stories from journalists and the
recollections of eyewitnesses we can credibly reconstruct
the events of July 12, 2007.
At dawn Bravo Company 2-16 Infantry begins its mission of "clearing the
sector and looking for weapons caches" in the New Baghdad District. Ethan McCord explains
what this means
. "We would cordon off a section of New Baghdad
and perform 'knock-and-searches,' which basically consists of us
knocking on doors of homes and asking to search the home for
militia-related materials, weapons or bomb-making materials. Although
it was more of a demand. And if they refused, they gave us proper
cause to destroy their homes by searching more vigorously."
McCord's platoon continues this for a few hours in 110-degree heat
and they find nothing. Then, some locals on rooftops begin
firing at the American soldiers. They hear over
their audio net that another platoon is taking small arms fire and RPG
well. Then McCord hears "the very distinct fire of an Apache 30-mm cannon.
Again and again. Over and over. It was very close."
While the Bravo Company mission is underway, Saeed Chamagh and Namir
Noor Eldeen, looking for photo
opportunities, arrive in the neighborhood by car. Another
Ahmad Sahib, of Agence France-Presse, remains a few blocks away, and
Saeed stays in touch with him by cell phone. It's unknown whether the
journalists were aware of the Bravo Company operation. Saeed and Namir
leave their vehicle
four blocks south of the intersection where they will meet their fate.
They fall in with a crowd of about twelve Iraqis and walk northward
until one of the Iraqis directs Namir to the corner of a building.
On the gun-camera video Namir is seen peeking around the corner with his camera. He
snaps three pictures of a US HMMWV
blocking an intersection a hundred meters away. (The Army report calls
attention to his "furtive" manner.) He then pulls back to take a look
at the pictures he's taken. Saeed, meanwhile, steps
away from the group while talking by cell phone to Ahmad Sahib. At
this point, the group is struck by the first burst of Apache cannon
When the dust clears, the video shows Saeed crawling away from the dead
bodies near the street corner. A couple of minutes later a van drives
up and stops near Saeed. Two previously unseen rescuers appear and
attempt to load Saeed into the side door of the van. The helicopter
gunner asks for and gets permission to fire on the van. The burst of
cannon fire kills Saeed, the two rescuers and the van driver and wounds
two children in the van.
A few more minutes elapse and a US armored vehicle and truck arrive in
the courtyard. They are accompanied by several dismounted soldiers
including Ethan McCord. On the recorded audio the soldiers mention
weapons on the ground and the wounded children in the van. There is no
mention of any weapons in the van. (Days later Ethan McCord described
the smell of the massacre. It was, "unlike anything I've ever smelled
before. A smell
of feces, urine, blood, smoke and something else indescribable.")
The gun-camera video then takes a twenty-minute break before moving to
nearby "triangular" building, which has been reported as source of
small arms fire directed at US forces. No people are visible in or on
the building, but the video shows three Iraqis entering the it. Two
appear to be armed and one is unarmed. A second before the first (of
missiles strikes the building, an unarmed Iraqi man is walking on the
sidewalk in front of the building, apparently with no intention of
entering. After the explosion he disappears in the smoke and is not
The official Army log reports six AIF (Anti-Iraqi Force) enemies killed
at the triangular building, but it is impossible to tell for sure how
many were killed in the assault. The
Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative reporter who
WikiLeaks on the video, went to Baghdad to locate some of the local
people affected by these incidents. He claims to have found the owner
of the building, “an old man named Jabbar Abid Rady, born in 1941, a
retired English teacher.” Abid Rady told Hrafnsson that his wife and
daughter had died in the attack. He said that five other people who had
been living in the building died, too. Buildings under construction
often serve as housing in war-ravaged places; people live in the lower
floors, which are often built first and are inhabitable before
construction ends. Abid Rady told Hrafnsson that three families had
been living in this particular structure.
List of the Dead and Wounded Who Were
Seen in the Video.
(1) Namir Noor Eldeen, 22, Reuters photographer, unarmed, killed.
(2) Fat guy,
aged," carrying an AK-47, killed
(3) Skinny guy, "military aged," carrying an RPG, killed
(4) Unidentified Iraqi #1, "military aged," possibly holding two RPG
(5) Unidentified Iraqi #2, "military aged," unarmed, killed.
(6) Unidentified Iraqi #3, "military aged," unarmed, killed.
(7) Unidentified Iraqi #4, "military aged," unarmed, killed.
(8) Unidentified Iraqi #5, "military aged," unarmed, killed.
Assault on the Van.
(9) Saeed Chamgh, 40, Reuters photographer/driver, unarmed,
(10) Saeed rescuer #1, "military aged," unarmed, killed.
(11) Saeed rescuer #2, "military aged," unarmed, killed
(12) Salah Mustasher Toman, 43, van driver, unarmed, killed
(13) Duah Salah Toman, 4, female van passenger, unarmed, wounded
(14) Sajad Mustasher Toman, 9, male van passenger, unarmed, wounded
Hellfire assault on the Triangular Building.
(15) Unidentified Iraqi #6, adult male, walking in front of Triangular
unarmed, presumed killed
(16) Unidentified Iraqi #7, adult male, seen entering Triangular
weapon, presumed killed
(17) Unidentified Iraqi #8, adult male, seen entering Triangular
weapon, presumed killed
(18) Unidentified Iraqi #9, adult male, seen entering Triangular
The Iraq War Log for July 12, 2007 includes both the Apache cannon
attack on the street corner and the van (at 1035) and the Apache
Hellfire missile attack on the triangular building (at 1125). The war
log states that seven "AIF" (anti-Iraq Force, whatever that means)
were killed and two children wounded in the 1035 assault. This is
clearly inaccurate. There were twelve, not seven, people killed. Ten of
the killed people had no means for threatening US troops. Of those ten,
two were Reuters journalists and three were Good Samaritans trying to
rescue one of the journalists. Two of the killed had weapons, but never
used them. The killing was clearly indiscriminate and the official
record underreports the body count.. An important principle is
illustrated: Because a report is
Secret doesn't mean
Iraq War Logs search engine at
http://188.8.131.52/iraq/diarydig/ is useless. Time
doesn't work, so you can't select logs for range of days.The search
engine returns the first page of ten logs and expects you to go through
hundreds more pages to find what you're looking for. But when you go to
the second or third page, the search dies, giving you a blank page or a
code 504 timeout. The fact that the search engine doesn't work
indicates the Wikileaks staff is so overworked they don't have time to
fix their software. Or don't care..