Yesterday, Mazen al-Tomasi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya, was broadcasting live from the scene of an earlier attack against a Bradley fighting vehicle , which was on fire and had attracted a crowd of locals...
While Mazen was making his report, a sudden noise came from behind him. Two Apache helicopters flew in overhead...
... one of them started attacking the crowd, apparently using their guns. The crowd, which included several small children, tried to run away from the scene, but there would be no escape for many. A helicopter launched a missile...
...and Mazen al-Tomasi was struck by shrapnel from the blast while still on live television. His cameraman, Seif Fouad, fell to the ground from the force of the explosion.
Mazen's blood spattered across the camera's lens and the screams of numerous dying, injured, scared Iraqis were heard on live television. Seif somehow managed to keep filming... Mazen screamed to Seif for help: "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die! I'm going to die!" The helicopter still hovered overhead. Seif grabbed Mazen and started to pull him out of harm's way. Suddenly, another missile was launched, and Seif was hit by shrapnel in the leg and abdomen. Seif, seriously wounded himself, watched his friend Mazen die of his wounds soon afterwards.
A US military spokesman said the helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd, and that they fired to prevent looters from stripping the vehicle. That said, the vehicle was too badly burning to be stripped, and the television footage showed no evidence of any shooting from the ground, or indeed, any armed Iraqis on the scene whatsoever.
The full video of this is was seen by millions of Arabs and is apparently something that Reuters has the rights to -- Saif worked for Reuters -- if they choose to air it. I suspect that it will never make it to American television, however. We like our wars clean, I guess.
We remember the horrific footage of 9/11 in the US. All the people who died on the planes. All the people who jumped to their deaths. All the people who ran away from the collapse of the World Trade Center, trying desperately to save their lives. It was a huge national tragedy. The victims of 9/11 may have somehow represented the "decadence of western society", but they did absolutely nothing to justify their tragic deaths... just as ordinary Iraqis did nothing to deserve this.
So, when will their 9/11 end?
**Update: Apparently the BBC has the video up on their site. The Guardian has a firsthand account from a cameraman who was on the scene, while a BBC article hones in on discrepencies on the US military position with the known timeline of events..**