Photos courtesy of Didge Politics. Click photo for larger image.
Video taken by an Australian reporter embedded with American troops in Afghanistan aired last night on SBS' Dateline, showing US soldiers burning the bodies of suspected Taliban insurgents. To make matters worse, the bodies were intentionally positioned to towards Mecca. Both of these acts are considered acts of desecration by followers of Islam, and are violations of the Geneva Convention if done for non-hygenic reasons.
Although the video has yet to be released to the internet as far as I can tell, a transcript of the broadcast is available. It seems likely that this act will be viewed as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, as the Taliban in question were recently killed, as indicated in this excerpt from the transcript.
At the top of the hills above the village the soldiers have taken the tactics of psychological warfare to a grotesque and disturbing extreme. US soldiers have set fire to the bodies of the two Taliban killed the night before. The burning of the corpses and the fact that they've been laid out facing Mecca is a deliberate desecration of Muslim beliefs.
SOLDIER: Wow, look at the blood coming out of the mouth on that one, fucking straight death metal.
PsyOps specialist Sergeant Jim Baker then broadcast an inflammatory message over the loudspeakers in order to taunt and bait the enemy.
SGT JIM BAKER: Attention, Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be.
SOLDIER 2: The first message we sent was - Attention, Mullah Tahir, Mullah Sadar, Mullah Kairadullah, Mullah Abdullah Khan and other Taliban, we know who you are. Your time in Afghanistan is short. You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Talibs but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are.
And the second one. Attention Mullah Tahiir and other Taliban fighters, we have you surrounded, there is no way for you to escape. Come down from the mountains now and you will not be harmed. We will give you food and cold water. If you persist and stay in the mountains it will become your graveyard.
The soldiers say they're burning the bodies for hygiene purposes but out here, far away from the village, this appears to make no sense. These soldiers have clearly been trained to denigrate and enrage Muslims. Such blatant disrespect for the corpses of their enemy is a breach of the Geneva Convention. It also heightens the perception of local people that the Americans are just as barbarous as the Taliban say they are. Australian troops operate out of the same army base and in the eyes of the locals, as members of the same coalition, there is no distinction between American and Australian forces.
The actions of these soldiers may have just made it a whole lot harder for our nation's partners in Iraq to remain partners -- Australians, British, Germans, Canadians, French, etc. -- as their citizens might be a bit infuritated to find out our soldiers are literally goading the local inhabitants to attack them.
Of course, people can always blame reporters for embedding themselves with our soldiers, I guess. Damn that liberal media for reporting on the things that they see!