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When confronted with savagery one can demonstrate courage or flee. The second option is available for a limited time only. Eventually there will be nowhere to run.
The New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 10 — Insurgents posted an Internet video on Monday showing the mutilated bodies of two American soldiers abducted in June and found murdered days later during a search by American and Iraqi forces south of Baghdad. A message with the video says the soldiers were killed out of revenge for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl in March, a crime in which at least six American soldiers are suspects.For what its worth, the video does not depict the murder of the soldiers, who may have been killed in the initial attack. The fact that the actual killings aren't on the video indicates this is likely - insurgents generally don't miss such an opportunity. That there are four insurgents in view in the video implies there weren't enough to carry off the third victim, whose body was found at the scene of the attack.
“We present this as revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade,” says a message in Arabic on a title card at the start of the nearly five-minute video. Militants had learned of the crime early on and “decided to take revenge for their sister’s honor,” the message says, according to a translation by the SITE Institute, which tracks jihadist Internet postings.
The Jawa Report has an edited (but graphic) version of the video, along with still images. You can read the coverage of the story there without seeing the pictures or video - they are at the bottom of the post following several warnings.
The Times says the video (and accompanying statement) "deepens the mystery surrounding the rape and killing of the Iraqi girl and the slayings of her parents and younger sister."
American officials have said that the soldiers implicated in that crime are from the same platoon of the 502nd Infantry as the two abducted soldiers, but investigators have yet to draw a direct link between the events.Note that the Times story isn't questioning whether the accused US soldiers actually committed the rape/murders, just stating that at the time of the killing of these two soldiers (who have no connection to the previous crime beyond being members of the same platoon) the belief was that insurgents committed the earlier crime. In fact, according to published reports, the rape was planned to make it appear just so. Other soldiers, interviewed in the aftermath of the killings depicted in the newly released video, implicated those who (allegedly) committed the earlier rape/murders.
It is questionable whether the soldiers were actually killed out of revenge. Iraqis around Mahmudiya, where the rape and murders took place, believed at the time that the girl and the other three victims were killed by other Iraqis in sectarian violence, according to the mayor of Mahmudiya and American military officials. The mayor said the possible involvement of American soldiers only became apparent on June 30, when the American military announced it had opened an investigation into the crime.
However, there are indications that many of the locals didn't buy the "insurgent" story, although comments from neighbors to the effect of "the victims were Sunni - we didn't think they had been killed by insurgents" were published in news accounts only after the arrest of the US suspects. (One could also interpret the comments as an admission that if the victims were Shiite there would be no questions asked.)
Locals might have captured and killed the two Americans in retaliation for the earlier crime, but I suspect that this claim was an opportunity that presented itself only after the fact. Earlier statements made by the terrorist groups claiming to have kidnapped the Americans made no reference to the rape/murder case, which had not yet been revealed.
All the facts behind the entire story will likely never be known. But this is a fine example of why a recently translated al Qaeda manual titled The Management of Savagery should be required reading for all US troops. In this case insurgents took advantage of events in a manner exactly as described in that document.
- Brutal killings must be explained in a manner that justifies the atrocity
- Public opinion must be turned against the enemy soldiers
- Al Qaeda should be seen as the solution to the chaos/savagery - even as they foment more such atrocities (hence the title)
These efforts are to be directed at the local Muslim population in any conflict. In Iraq, with a majority non-Sunni population, they will achieve limited success. But the even more powerful response is desired from the population of the enemy state - erosion of support for the effort on the home front.
Hence whether the killers of these soldiers knew of the rape/murder at the time or not, the perpetrators of that earlier heinous crime have handed a victory to the enemy, perhaps the most significant propaganda victory of the war.
How to counter attack? Use truth. Insurgents didn't "break" the story of the rape and murders in Iraq, even though they had the perfect opportunity to do so when they first kidnapped (or simply took the corpses of) the US Soldiers. The crime was revealed - just as the actions of the criminals at Abu Ghraib were revealed - when American soldiers acted in the manner of the vast majority of American soldiers and sought justice for the victims of the criminals who had disgraced the uniform. It takes a bit of courage to do that - perhaps a different sort than that needed to face enemy fire - but both are common traits instilled in the vast majority of America's modern warriors, before and after they take the oath.
Don't give rapists, murderers, and torturers - regardless of their manner of dress - the credit for that sort of courage.
Elsewhere on this topic:
Military authorities on Monday disclosed that they had filed capital charges of premeditated rape and murder against four of the five active-duty soldiers accused in an attack on an Iraqi family in March.The final suspect, Steven D. Green, who was discharged from the military for a personality disorder before fellow soldiers identified the alleged perpetrators of the crime, pleaded not guilty last week in Louisville to federal charges of rape and murder.
A 15-year-old Iraqi girl, who was allegedly raped, was killed along with her mother, father and younger sister in the attack in a village near Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.
Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Spec. James P. Barker and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman are charged with rape, murder, housebreaking, arson and drinking alcohol against military rules, the U.S. military said in a statement. Another soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, was charged with premeditated murder, rape and obstruction of justice. The four soldiers could face the death penalty if convicted.
The fifth active-duty soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement for allegedly failing to report the incident. Yribe was not directly involved in the attack, U.S. military spokesmen in Baghdad said.
Reports allege that Green fired all of the shots and was one of two soldiers who directly participated in the rape.
The other side may have overplayed their hand. Sure, nice for their hardcore - but with everyone else, it hurts them to put this video out. There will be blowback.Posted by CDR Salamander at July 11, 2006 11:09 AM
The other silver lining to the horrors of this story is that the video seems to confirm what we had suspected and hoped--that the soldiers died during the initial firefight or soon after, giving the terrorists no chance to torture them.Posted by FbL at July 11, 2006 01:20 PM
On a slightly different note from the commenters above, I wanted to point out a fundamental difference in Western (U.S.) treatment of such a situation and our enemies', something which apparently eludes the Left. When US soldiers commit an atrocity, they are investigated, and tried. In other words we, by and large, police our own and try to avoid such horrors. The Jihadists actively try to produce such horrors with their terror attacks. That, as much as anything else, should stand as evidence of the righteousness of our cause. The methods one uses to achieve an end are profoundly indicative of one's morality.Posted by Christopher Whitaker at July 11, 2006 11:58 PM
Have to agree with the last poster. That is the difference between us and them. For the most part, we hold people accountable for horrific crimes. These insurgents are praised.Posted by PoliticalCritic at July 12, 2006 02:26 AM
"When confronted with savagery one can demonstrate courage or flee. The second option is available for a limited time only. Eventually there will be nowhere to run."
For those who think running is an option: Don't bother running. You'll only die tired. Stay with those of us who would rather die than run, and you'll either win your life and the lives of your family and your countrymen, or die trying.
Better than dying tired and it looks better too.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at July 12, 2006 02:50 AM
The supposed revenge killing was mentioned a few days ago by two mainstream news shows, but I cannot remember which ones. This was before all this came out. Wonder where the terrorist got the idea from? Hmmm. Nah,
About the timing, I seem to recall that the one of the first claims was that the two were "snatched" and "murdered" in retaliation for our successful strike on Zarqawi. Could be wrong.Posted by Tim at July 12, 2006 05:19 PM
the truest thing you said, Greyhawk, was the incerdible propaganda victory this will be for the enemy.
The little girl was twelve years old at the time of the rape/murder.
and...it doesn't matter if the revenge claim is false...it has already passed into the urban legend of the arab street.
the mujahadin did everything right.
they tied the revenge story to the release of the video, and said it was in deference to the honor of their sister, aliased or covered mutilated genitals, claimed time-honored tribal vengence by taking victims from the same unit.
the little girl reportedly told her parents about being harrassed at the checkpoint by soldiers.
when the investigation starts there will be a hundred witnesses for that, who will complain the mayor paid no attention or that they were intimidated into silence at the time.
we suck at this and the enemy is very, very good.Posted by matoko-chan at July 12, 2006 08:55 PM
greyhawk, given that we are in a bad situation, memetics wise, what should we do at this point?
i mean, damage controll.
surely this is why the Iraqis want immunity removed from american soldiers serving in Iraq.
if Iraq is a peer nation, should we extradite green et al to the iraqis and let the Iraqis try them?
and why are we seeing her age as 14, 15, 16 with no corrections?
FOXnews describes her as a "teenager" and "a young iraqi woman".
plz, she was a child.
are we seeing deliberate disinformation?
look at the ID.
DoB is March 28 1993.
she was 12 years old at the time of the attack.
We have to be vigilant that our system does in fact meet out justice and is not used to gain PR points with the Iraqi government. In other words become just another strategy to try and stabilize the situation there, as important is that may be. It is very difficult to investigate a crime in the middle of a very hot war zone, particularly where murdered corpes litter the area and witnesses all may have axes to grind. Two recent articles in the San Diego NCtimes have got me very concerned.
How serious is our government about getting to the real truth:
What do they think is of critical importance:
I've stated in another post at MilBlogs that I wouldn't be opposed to turning them over to the Iraqi government. But I see that not as damage control, but as justice.
It won't happen though - but justice will ultimately be served.Posted by Greyhawk at July 13, 2006 07:36 PM
What's really interesting is that the soldier accused of doing the crime was in the army only because it has reduced its standards out of sheer desperation. Which, naturally, the liars of the so-called milblogosphere have denied have been reduced.Posted by WW at July 14, 2006 04:31 AM
"He was disruptive in his house,” she said. “I don’t know if he killed small cats or anything, but that’s the kind of kid he was. His mom had a lot of issues."
But hey, at least he was a god-fearing Christian solider:
In early 2005, a few weeks after enlisting, Private Green immersed himself in a baptismal pool in the back of an Army chapel in Fort Benning, Ga., one of hundreds of young recruits who embraced religion as they faced certain violence.
Not that anyone should prejudge anything.Posted by WW at July 14, 2006 04:36 AM
"What's really interesting is that the soldier accused of doing the crime was in the army only because it has reduced its standards out of sheer desperation. Which, naturally, the liars of the so-called milblogosphere have denied have been reduced."
Posted by WW at July 14, 2006 04:31 AM
"He was disruptive in his house,” she said. “I don’t know if he killed small cats or anything, but that’s the kind of kid he was. His mom had a lot of issues."
But hey, at least he was a god-fearing Christian solider:
"In early 2005, a few weeks after enlisting, Private Green immersed himself in a baptismal pool in the back of an Army chapel in Fort Benning, Ga., one of hundreds of young recruits who embraced religion as they faced certain violence."
"Not that anyone should prejudge anything."
Posted by WW at July 14, 2006 04:36 AM
Of, course! It's all the Army's fault, isn't it? Why didn't I see it before? Perhaps it was just that your amazing intellect dazzled me Willy. You are so good at baffling with bullshit, anyway.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at July 16, 2006 03:35 AM
Hey sub, it's a fact that the army is accepting whackjobs that it used to deny. Why? Because your Idiot-in-Chief has screwed things up so badly that he's scraping the bottom of the barrel for new meat. Sort of like the other Fuhrer in 1945.Posted by WW at July 16, 2006 07:27 AM
Hey it's nobody's fault. The victims are Iraqis. They all deserve to die, right, milbloggers? Hearts and minds? Screw that! Kill 'em!
Look, propaganda is propaganda, whether used by the enemy or our allies. The same principle applies. We have to create justifications for our side's actions much as the terroists have to create justifications for their acts. The terroists create justifications because they have to kill any ways. We create justifications because we want it to be known that we are a just nation.
In this case, the solution is probably the same. If you want credibility amongst the Iraqis, then you have to show them in a public square that you are willing and capable of dispensing justice to the guilty. Whether they be terroists or American soldiers.
You do this by judging Green guilty or not-guilty, which given the testimony of his fireteam will probably be one of those open-shut cases. Someone will make a plea deal. Then you get those who are guilty and transfer them to Iraq for public execution.
All terroists should also be publicly executed, as a show of credibility and justice. The terroists have it streamlined, they get media coverage because of their attacks, and then they justify it ex-post facto with anything they can find. The US does not get coverage or credit for investigating soldiers. SO the US has to create a media event, not just for the media to take notice, but for the Iraqis we are trying to influence to notice as well.
It's a matter of degree. Even if Green was given to the Iraqis to try, it will not have the same effect as executing green in a public square in Iraq, if he was found guilty by a fair trial in the United States. The propaganda value is obvious. Iraqis will have doubts that Americans will send a guilty charge against one of their own in their own country, Iraqis know how tribal corrupt politics work. If you show them that someone can be convicted in America of crimes in Iraq, and not only that but you send them to Iraq to be executed in front of the people themselves, the propaganda value will be much greater than the terroist's so called "great propaganda victory".
Great propaganda victories require planning, which prevents piss poor performance. They just ad libbed it with this retro-active justification for the killing of two Ami soldiers.Posted by Ymarsakar at July 16, 2006 03:26 PM
There is no "they" in Iraq in the sense you use the word. Iraq is without a government. You have a bunch of armed factions. The largest and best-armed faction is the U.S. military, but its control is far from complete and its effectiveness is minimal. It can't even control the capital, nor can it deliver the various requirements of modern life to the population.
Whoever declared that they executed two U.S. soldiers in retaliation for the rape-murder of the Iraqi girl and her family is a shadow. That "whoever" represents no one. It is one of many factions. To call it "they" implies a single unified insurgency, which is obviously not true.
Even a relatively cohesive faction, such as the U.S. military, cannot accurately be portrayed as a unified whole. The Liar-in-Chief acknowledged as much when he claimed that torture at Abu Ghraib was the work of "a few bad apples," although in that case it was anything but.
Everything is a matter of degree in life. There are principles and realities, and then there is how they are actually implemented and dealt with in a messy world. The U.S. military is, by far, the most organized faction and logically should be judged as such. The insurgency is far less organized, and should be judged as such.
This does not mean that insurgent atrocities are any less heinous. It means that they have to be seen as actions arising from chaos. Ascribing them to all 25 million Iraqis is delusional. As for the U.S. military's perpetrators of atrocities, their actions are heinous but since the U.S. faction is better organized they carry wider implications.Posted by WW at July 16, 2006 05:05 PM
"Even a relatively cohesive faction, such as the U.S. military, cannot accurately be portrayed as a unified whole. The Liar-in-Chief acknowledged as much when he claimed that torture at Abu Ghraib was the work of "a few bad apples," although in that case it was anything but.'
'Everything is a matter of degree in life. There are principles and realities, and then there is how they are actually implemented and dealt with in a messy world. The U.S. military is, by far, the most organized faction and logically should be judged as such. The insurgency is far less organized, and should be judged as such."
"This does not mean that insurgent atrocities are any less heinous. It means that they have to be seen as actions arising from chaos. Ascribing them to all 25 million Iraqis is delusional. As for the U.S. military's perpetrators of atrocities, their actions are heinous but since the U.S. faction is better organized they carry wider implications."
Posted by WW at July 16, 2006 05:05 PM
So which is it, Willy? Are we doomed because all our soldiers are misfits and ghouls, or are they just regular guys doing a hard job and you won't give them a break?
Is the Army incapable of winning and therefore defeat is the only course, or is the enemy fighting us and things happen? You say we are in danger of imminent defeat and things will get worse, but you constantly harp on things which show US military might in a bad light, and therefore discourage American soldiers from joining the fight.
And insurgent atrocities aren't required because of the anarchy. They happen because that is their religious belief. They happen because they think God wants them to do those things. They happen because America pulls its punches when wussies like you cry in public that we are hurting babies and old women when it isn't true, and believe everything the enemy says, and nothing your country says.
Saddam handled his insurgencies just fine when he was in power. We could do exactly the same and make sure this was over in 2 months, but we'd be guilty of all the crimes Saddam was guilty of when he did it. Make no mistake. We could end the insurgency forever and kill every living being in Iraq many times over. The problem is it wouldn't lead to peace.
Peacemaking is hard work and takes time unless you just want to kill everything that moves. So shut up and give it time, nimrod. Or join the camp that insists we fix it right now and kill every person in Iraq who isn't American.
You and your kind are the biggest part of the problem. A boatload of wussies who refuse to let Men do their job when it needs to be done and then piss and moan that the job isn't getting done! That type of behavior gets you killed on the highway. He zigged when he should have zagged. Every time a solution is presented, you find fault and attack it. You have no plan, have no solution, know nothing of history, physics, logistics, or science. You think everything is a Star trek episode. Beam me here, communicate there, jawbone that guy, kiss that baby. An empty barrel for a brain.
The day America follows you is the day we are defeated. Until then, all we have to do is listen to what you and your liberal friends say and do the exact opposite and we can't lose. You are like the compass that always points south. Wrong every time.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at July 16, 2006 05:30 PM
i would...just like for the stories to get her age right. she wasn't even thirteen yet. that seems so awful to me.
and you are wrong about propaganda.
great propaganda doesn't look like propaganda at all. it is often opportunistic and spontaneous.
what the mujahadin did was powerful stuff--they played off the themes of tribalism and honor.
The vast majority of U.S. military personnel are regular guys and gals trying to do their jobs in the most difficult of circumstances. They are badly led, badly equipped, and deployed in a stupid mission for the benefit of private and foreign interests.
Some soldiers are heinous ghouls. Unfortunately, that cohort is bound to incerease as a result of the military's desperate need for warm bodies. This has led to a reduction of recruiting standards, and the retention of unqualified personnel.
I discourage American soldiers from joining the fight? I think you exaggerate my influence. I'm one guy who sees straight through this b.s. and isn't afraid to say so. You're one person who is frightened by the truth. I pity you.
There have been no "solutions" presented. The war was a lie from the get-go. We should leave before we are thrown out. Of course, when we are thrown out the wingnuts will blame it on Cindy Sheehan, the New York Times and Hillary Clinton. This is because the Republican Party and its Jawohl Chorus has never accepted responsibility for anything at any time.Posted by WW at July 17, 2006 05:25 AM
Death Penalty by firing squad in time of war...Posted by Bruce at July 20, 2006 06:34 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(24) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)