CNN: Did secret US unit execute suspected insurgent in cold blood?
The US Army is investigating allegations that it executed a suspected al Qaeda member in cold blood during a special forces raid outside Baghdad two weeks ago.
The military initially issued a statement saying the killing was provoked when the victim "initially complied with Coalition Forces instructions but then returned inside the house. When he returned outside, he attempted to engage the forces with an AK-47."
However, the dead man's brothers told CNN correspondent Michael Ware that Haddan was unarmed when he was shot. "Both the American and Iraqi accounts agree," Ware explained. "All of the brothers including Haddan came out, surrendering to the Americans. Both sides say Haddan then went back into the house -- and this is where the stories diverge."
According to what the Iraqis told Ware, "all the brothers were stripped to their underwear and forced to lay on the ground. ... When Haddan did return inside, they say, it was the Americans who had ordered him to do so."
The brothers insist that Haddan was killed inside the house and offer cellphone video taken by relatives, which shows bloodstains and bloody handprints in a bedroom, as evidence for their version of the story.
The brothers' account is very similar to an incident described by the Washington Post in 2006, where Marines said they had killed an Iraqi terrorist in a gun battle, after discovering him attempting to plant a bomb, and had then found an AK-47 and a shovel by his side.
"According to accounts given by Hashim's neighbors and members of his family, and apparently supported by photographs," reported the Post, "the Marines went to Hashim's home, took the 52-year-old disabled Iraqi outside and shot him four times in the face. The assault rifle and shovel next to his body had been planted by the Marines, who had borrowed them from a villager."
In this latest incident, the cellphone video also shows that one of Haddan's fingers had been severed. The military has "declined to explain" this, but Ware speculates it might have been done "for further identification and inclusion of his fingerprint and DNA in a US database." However, the family sees it as an act of intimidation.
A tribal leader helped Haddan's family meet with US officials in the Green Zone to present their case. Now the military itself is propelling the investigation, hoping to find out what really happened.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast Dec. 28, 2008.
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