Iraq Qaeda group posts video of U.S. copter downing:
In the image above, taken from the posted video, the contrails of what appears to be a SAM can be seen in the foreground, moments before the missile impacts and the helicopter explodes into flames.
From the trajectory of the SAM smoke trail, it seems that the launcher was very near the cameraman, making this video a clear example of a Qaeda-affiliates very effective information operations arm.
In yesterday's round-up of Arab-language news, Amer Mohsen reported on a piece in the pan-Arab paper al-Hayat.
Quoting sources "close to the armed groups", al-Hayat claimed that the insurgents have acquired an improved version of the portable anti-aircraft missile. The ‘sources’ indicated that the newly-purchased missiles were responsible for shooting down four out of five choppers that the US Army has lost in Iraq this year.
Reuters is reporting that: "An al-Qaeda-backed group on Friday released an Internet video of what it said was the shooting down of a U.S. helicopter in Iraq this week, which killed seven military personnel. The video, posted on a Web site used by insurgents...also showed the plane pulling away while trailing smoke before being engulfed in flames and crashing behind distant trees."
There is not much dialogue but here is a summary from LiveLeak:
The video opens with the title of the 'organization’ that produced the video “Al-Furqan Media Productions”. (note: many, if not most recent videos of attacks are distributed by the same group, based on the songs they add to the background, it is probably pro-Qa`ida).
Next (00.07): “The inferno of Romans and apostates in the land of Mesopotamia” (In the minds of those who made the video, “Roman” refers to the Christian threat in Islamic tradition since much of the border infighting in early and medieval Islam occurred with the Eastern Roman Empire).
(00.09): “The downing of an American Chinook Helicopter- Anbar province – Karama sector”
(00.17-00.50): Snippet of a religious speech by Usama Bin Laden (almost surely the voice of Usama).
(The caption during the video is: ““The downing of an American Chinook Helicopter- Anbar province – Karama sector, 07/02/2007)
NOTE In case you’re interested in the song played, the lyrics are something along the lines of: “Shoot your fire- let it burn the Romans, how they fed my people-bitterness for ages”
There is great significance to some jihadis in seeing helicopters being shot down. During the war against the Russians in Afghanistan, the introduction of Stinger surface to air missiles crippled the Soviet helicopter fleet. The roads had become too dangerous due to frequent attacks and the Soviets relied on Mi-17 transport helos to move supplies and men from fortified base to fortified base.
The current situation in Iraq and the recent downing of U.S. helicopters can be considered a comparable situation. Although this historical lesson was taught in U.S. Military colleges and shaped the light footprint in Afghanistan, it was never envisioned as a likely scenario for Iraq.
The last well distributed video was an insurgent video that showed the April 2005 shoot down of a helicopter was actually of a Blackwater Russian-made helicopter with Blackwater and Skylink contractors on board. The insurgents also videotaped the execution of the surviving Bulgarian pilot.