Ansar al-Sunnah (Islamic Army in Iraq), an ally of al Qaeda in Iraq, has claimed credit for shooting down a privately owned Bulgarian Mi-8 helicopter. While the exact cause of the downing has not been determined (machinegun fire, RPG or surface-to-air missile), the most likely cause would be an RPG directed at the tail rotor of the helicopter. This is a technique perfected by al Qaeda, who trained Somali Islamists of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” battle in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993:
Because intelligence had determined that the RPGs did not represent an air defense threat, the Black Hawks flew low over the city with shooters on board to support the ground operation. By this time, responding to several weeks of US helicopter presence, al Qaeda operatives had shown the Somalis modifications to the RPGs that would make them more effective, such as adding curved tubes to guide the rocket exhaust in a safe direction. As a result, an RPG soon destroyed a Black Hawk tail rotor, and the helicopter went down in the city.
Five helicopters were stuck in this manner during the Battle of Mogadishu, with two shot down and three crippled, and eighteen American servicemen were killed in the ensuing firefight to rescue the crews. Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart received the Congressional Medal of Honor for sacrificing their lives during their heroic stand to save the crew of downed Black Hawk Super 64.
Osama bin Laden admitted to training al-Itihaad al-Islamiya in an interview with CNN’s Peter Arnett in 1997 (see also page 341 of the 9-11 Commission Report as well as pages 151-156 of Inside al Qaeda for al Qaeda’s involvement in Somalia). al-Itihaad al-Islamiya is but one of al Qaeda’s global affiliates of its umbrella group International Islamic Front.
We must occasionally be reminded of the level of malice and evil contained within the hearts of Islamists. The Associated Press carries an account of a video purporting to show the aftermath of the attack, and the brutal slaying of a surviving member of the Bulgarian aircrew (hat tip to The Mudville Gazette’s indispensable “Dawn Patrol” ). The Islamists have no concept of mercy. The wounded are merely infidel unworthy of life, to be butchered for propaganda purposes:
The video begins with an unseen cameraman breathing heavily and running with the camera toward burning wreckage. Two bodies are visible, one of them severely charred, nearly all its clothes burned away.
“Look at that filth,” someone says in Arabic.
There are brief glimpses of a man carrying an assault rifle along with the cameraman.
The scene moves to tall grass, where a man with thinning, gray hair and wearing a blue flight suit is lying on his back, the right side of his head bloody. The helicopter’s three-man crew was Bulgarian, and it appeared that the man shot in the video was one of the crew.
“Stand up! Stand up!” the cameraman shouts to him in English.
“I can’t, it’s broken. Give me a hand,” the survivor says in accented English, raising his hands for help. “Give me your hand.”
It appears the militants help pull him to his feet.
“Weapons?” the gunmen shout at him in Arabic.
The cameraman tells the crewman, whose face is visible, to step back.
“Go! Go!” he shouts.
The survivor then tries to walk, limping with his back to the insurgents, who say something to him that makes him turn around. He raises his hands to somebody off camera as if gesturing to them to stop what they are about to do.
“Carry out God’s verdict,” someone is heard saying, and the militants shoot the man at point-blank range, continuing even after he falls to the ground. One gunman shouts, “Allahu akbar!”
The final paragraph succinctly sums up the depravity of our enemy. In their minds, the greatness of God [Allahu akbar] commands the execution of the wounded extending his hand for help.
Some see “lawfare” as the proper tool to fight this war, advocate placing these poisonous murderers into the general population of domestic prisons and view the Islamist ideology as containable. This is a naive approach to fighting this war, as there is no containing an enemy so disconnected from humanity that they believe they are carrying out God’s will by slaughtering the helpless.
Publius Pundit reviews the lastest action in the Battle of Arabia, where 4 members oa al Qaeda are killed in the holy city of Mecca, and local elections are conducted.
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