We will be hearing a verdict on Bradley Manning’s court martial soon. Whatever it is, the infamous “Collateral Murder” video will be mentioned. As usual, SOFREP tells you what the media never does.

Bradley Manning’s singular achievement is the release of a now infamous “Collateral Murder” video. It allegedly pulls the veil of secrecy aside covering up the murder of 11 “civilians,” two of whom were Reuters journalists, by Apache gunships. The highly edited excerpts prominently displayed throughout the internet emphasize that the journalists carried cameras, to include captions and arrows focusing the viewer’s perspective.

The ubiquitous narrative prominently includes the words ”murder,” “civilians,” “journalists” and “unarmed”. It has been very effective in rousing emotional support for Bradley Manning, mobilizing large numbers of people that largely sees Bradley Manning as a hero whistleblower and the belief by some that a war crime was committed. Problem is over 90% of the “common knowledge” is untrue.

On 12 July 2007 B Company 2-16 IN was conducting Operation Ilaaj (Cure) in east Baghdad during the height of the insurgency. They had been fired on for four hours from the area Apache gunships would later engage armed insurgents. After four years of conflict, it was common insurgents to use unmarked vehicles to transport weapons and insurgents. The enemy also made every effort to recover weapons from dead or wounded insurgents and often photographed/filmed attacks on US troops for their propaganda value. Baghdad was a battlefield.

According to the rules of war, shooting noncombatants knowingly and purposely is a war crime. Armed unmarked individuals, individuals actively assist insurgents by evacuating them, their weapons or willfully carrying ammunition are considered unprivileged combatants. Engaging marked unarmed medical vehicles is also against the rules of war. It is permissible to shoot the enemy at any time as long as he is not actively surrendering or is wounded to a point that he cannot harm friendly troops. This is often a subjective decision.

The “Collateral Murder” video is 39 minutes long.

It might be helpful to cue it up as you read. What follows are the key events that contradict the popular narrative. The source of this explanation is the complete video and the Army’s 15-6 investigation including multiple statements from key personnel present.

After taking fire for hours B Co is chopped in two Apache helicopters, Crazyhorse 18 & 19. They quickly (1:15) identify a group of men from a range of 800m. They are within 200m of the repeatedly engaged American platoon casually walking together. Pilots initially misidentify two civilians as carrying weapons (1:32) that is actually camera gear. (Pilots are looking at a 6.25” x 6.25” screen while flying their helicopter under contact over an urban environment.) Four seconds later (1:36), the pilots correctly identify three men carrying weapons. The insurgents presence no longer makes this group a bunch of “civilians.”

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Exhibit B from the 15-6 investigation. Approximately at the 1:52 mark of the video.

At 2:06 a photographer furtively looks around the corner and takes pictures of HMMWVs approx. 100m away. Armed insurgents are casually standing next to him, an incredibly dangerous and unwise place for the photographer to be. The Apache engages with its 30mm chain gun (2:48). Immediately prior you can see the RPG and AK47 armed insurgents within arm’s reach of the photographer.

 

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Picture from video one second before Apache opens fire.

According to the 15-6 sworn statements at least one more weapon is recovered. The gun camera video is graphic but keep in mind the armed insurgents in this group were engaging U.S. troops for HOURS.

Shortly afterwards (7:12) a black van is seen pulling up. As two individuals lift a wounded man (later identified as one of the photographers) into the van, they are engaged. While gruesome to watch, the enemy’s use of unmarked vehicles to move insurgents and evacuate weapons and wounded make them a valid military target.

Most “Collateral Murder” videos typically end near this point or edit out the following communication. The reasons are quite clear. Weapons and ammunition found would contradict the narrative of “unarmed civilians.” Neither is contact with armed insurgents over.

11:10 Platoon leader clearly reports taking small arms and RPG fire from this location. This is reiterated in multiple statements in the 15-6.
13:17 Bradley’s arrive on scene followed by uparmored HMMWVs. Over the next 10 minutes, US troops secure the area and evacuate two wounded children.
15:00 Same platoon leader reiterates taking small arms fire from that location to his superior and confirms he called in the Apaches.
18:54 Clear report of a dead insurgent with an RPG round underneath him.
30:13 Troops report hearing gunfire. Later statements by platoon leaders state they were taking fire.
30:45 Armed insurgents(AK47s) and what appear to be ammo racks across their chests take cover in large building
34:10 First of multiple hellfires fired at building.

After seeing the complete video in context with background and explanation of combat’s legalities, it’s readily apparent how effective the “Collateral Murder” campaign was. E.G. CNN ‘s coverage links Wikileaks highly edited video and makes no mention that there were armed insurgents present. Check it out here and compare it to what you know now.

Apache helicopters didn’t engage and kill unarmed civilians and journalists in cold blood. After taking fire from insurgents, Apache helicopters were deployed. Flying 800m away, pilots using 6.25” x6.25” inch monitors correctly identify armed insurgents four seconds after mistakenly identifying long camera lenses as weapons. Unmarked photographers, casually walking among armed insurgents, cautiously peer around a corner and take pictures of U.S. vehicles that had been engaged all morning, something often done by insurgents for its propaganda value. Apaches engage until all individuals are down, and later engage an unmarked van evacuating a wounded individual, the same type of unmarked vehicles used to employ armed insurgents and evacuate wounded and weapons. After securing the area, at least three weapons and ammunition are recovered, and children found wounded in the vehicle are evacuated. Subsequently, six more insurgents, with video showing at least two of them armed, are engaged with Hellfires, likely after engaging U.S. troops that evacuated the wounded children.

Masterful piece of propaganda. Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and their accomplices took a response to enemy insurgents targeting U.S. troops and invented a war crime, doing irreparable damage to our reputation and undoubtedly motivating resistance to U.S. forces. On one thing we can agree: this was Bradley Manning’s greatest achievement. I can only hope he’s appropriately rewarded.

 

(Featured Image Courtesy: BradleyManning.org)