January 24, 2007

Video: 2 Groups Claim Blackwater Helicopter Down, Murder Crew

Two seperate insurgent groups are now claiming the downing of a Blackwater, USA helicopter. Ansar al Sunna and The 1920s Revolutionary Brigade. Four of the five men on the plane were murdered, shot execution style in the back of the heads, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. Images and a video of the downed helicopter below.

The first group, The Army of Ansar al Sunnah, posted an internet message hours after the incident in which small arms fire brought down a small helicopter operated by the private security firm over Baghdad. In that message, the Kurdish Sunni Salafist group, with ties to al Qaeda, took credit for the downing, and, as evidence posted identification from one of the killed pilots. Yesterday, because the family was not notified yet, we withheld those photos. But media reports now confirm the death of Arthur Laguna, of California. The images posted by Ansar al Sunna are below.

But later that same day, a second terrorist organization, the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade, also claimed responsibility for the same attack. This group posted a video, apparently taken by cellphone, of the wreckage. That video (graphic) is posted below.

What is so odd about these two particular groups 'working together'? Well, the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade has refused to join the larger al Qaeda umbrella group, The Islamic State in Iraq. While they claim to be Islamist, word on the street is that they are composed of mostly ex-Baathists. That is, they are a Sunni Arab nationalist movement. One might expect they'd work with JAMI, another "nationalist" group, but Ansar?

Ansar al Sunna, while Sunni, is much more closely linked with the pan-nationalist Salafist orientation of al Qaeda. In fact, Ansar's roots are not even in Arab Iraq, but in Kurdistan.

But beyond this, these two counter-claims may speak to a larger phenomenon in Iraq: the freelance jihadi propagandist. There is general consensus that jihadi groups will pay for videos of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets. My guess is that the video posted by the 1920s Revolutionary brigade was obtained this way.

As for the various forms of identification, taken from Arthur Laguna, it's seems very likely that most of these were in his wallet. It's possible that any one of the swarm that surrounded the wreckage could have lifted his wallet and turned it over to Ansar al Sunnah. I will also add, though, that shooting wounded Americans in the back of the head is very much in keeping with Ansar's style. These are the terrorists in Iraq, who like their collobarater and one time member, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, behead their hostages.

Another interesting thing about Ansar's claim, was that they said that one of the Americans "got away", but that they were "hunting him down". No news reports of survivors, but we certainly hope there were.

The helicopter is said to have been part of a larger formation, giving air support to a diplomatic convoy on the road. So, to those types who don't like Blackwater or private security operations, yet somehow always want to give diplomacy a chance, I say: screw them. And, yes, I'm looking at you Kos.

Here is one of the images posted by Ansar al Sunna, as proof that they were responsible for the downed helicopter.

Warning: The video is very unclear, but does appear to show the remains of at least one of the victoms. Discretion advised.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:53 PM | Comments |