Ishaqi Massacre Video ‘Uncovered’ by BBC

Video of a second massacre of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops, this on in March in the town of Ishaqi, has been “uncovered” by the BBC.

The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians. The video appears to challenge the US military’s account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March. The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people. A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.


Ishaq Massacre Video BBC The video pictures obtained by the BBC appear to contradict the US account of the events in Ishaqi, about 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on 15 March 2006. The US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda supporter was visiting the house. According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire killing four people – a suspect, two women and a child. But a report filed by Iraqi police accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people in the house, including five children and four women, before blowing up the building.

The video tape obtained by the BBC shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds. The pictures came from a hardline Sunni group opposed to coalition forces. It has been cross-checked with other images taken at the time of events and is believed to be genuine, the BBC’s Ian Pannell in Baghdad says.

The lede is rather misleading, no? To say that BBC “uncovered” it when–as we learn several paragraphs later–it was produced by the enemy is rather noteworthy, I’d say.

In related news, NYT has two separate articles by Richard Oppel on the reaction of the Iraqi government that appear to predate the BBC’s “discovery,” Iraqi Leaders Assail U.S. on Civilian Deaths and Iraqi Accuses U.S. of ‘Daily’ Attacks Against Civilians.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.

As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country’s senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry. In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a “daily phenomenon” by many troops in the American-led coalition who “do not respect the Iraqi people.” “They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion,” he said. “This is completely unacceptable.” Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.

The denunciation was an unusual declaration for a government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country amid a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency in the west, widespread sectarian violence in Baghdad, and deadly feuding among Shiite militias that increasingly control the south.

It was also a sign of the growing pressure on Mr. Maliki, whose governing coalition includes Sunni Arabs who were enraged by news of the killings in Haditha, a city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. At the same time, he is being pushed by the Americans to resolve the quarreling within his fragile coalition that has left him unable to fill cabinet posts for the Ministries of Defense and the Interior, the two top security jobs in the country.

The Ishaqi video will certainly inflame this sentiment.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Is the Iraqi government reaction a surprise? I’m just waiting for Muqtada Al-Sadr to stir more things up. As it is, things in the once tranquil south near Basra is getting worse with an “Iron Fist” policy being bandied about. It won’t surprise me if they make a token demand for extradition of the Marines.

  2. LJD says:

    Don’t forget about the willy-p in Fallujah either…

  3. Tano says:

    I’m kinda missing your point here.

    You highlight the phrase about it being produced by a Sunni group – why? Do you think that means it is phony somehow? Producd in a studio or something?

    And what is misleading about the lede? Its a video after all. Obviously it was produced by someone. BBC makes it plain that they didnt produce it. And it wasnt in general circulation. So, yeah, they uncovered it. What is your point?

  4. LJD says:

    Here’s the point, Tano:

    Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.

    It’s time for all to stand up and decide whether they want to be on the side of propaganda, or on the side of justice. Without an investigation, evidence, suspects, this is nothing more than a propaganda film.

    It shows nothing more than dead Iraqis. Not how they died, or who killed them.

  5. Bithead says:

    The timing of this film is at question too.

  6. lily says:

    Well, if a top government offical is, as you imply, using this film as anti-American propaganda, what does that mean in terms of our continued presence in Iraq? Do you think the Iraq government is working up to telling us to leave?