- The unarmed Iraqi prisoner killed by a US marine during
the battle of Fallujah made no movements apart from breathing before he
was shot dead, the NBC journalist who filmed the incident said
- In a new and wrenching account of the episode inside
a mosque on 13 November, the journalist Kevin Sites also indicated that
at least two, possibly three other wounded prisoners left behind by the
marines on 12 November were shot by another unit the following day.
- The incident, shown on TV around the world, has created
dismay and indignation, especially in the Arab world. The marine in
has been taken off active duty while the case is investigated by the US
- Sites presents his story of what happened as "An
Open Letter to the Devil Dogs of the 3.1". He said that upon his
to the mosque on 13 November, he saw "the same black plastic body
bags containing the remains of the 10 insurgents killed the day
He added: "More surprising, I see the same five men that were wounded
from Friday as well. It appears that one of them is now dead and three
are bleeding to death from new gunshot wounds. The fifth is partially
by a blanket and is in the same place and condition he was in on Friday,
near a column."
- Sites said he looked closely at both the dead and the
wounded, but there seemed to be no weapons. He then told a marine
that three were wounded the previous day.
- At that point, however, one of the marines claimed that
one of the wounded was pretending to be dead. Sites then saw the marine
aim at the man. There were "no sudden movements, no reaching or
but "he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back
wall and the man's leg slumps down. "Well, he's dead now," says
another marine in the background.
- The NBC journalist stressed he had been extra-careful
to present a balanced picture, saying that as an experienced war reporter
he was well aware that dead and wounded insurgents could be
- "No one, especially someone like me, who has lived
in a war zone, would deny that a soldier or marine could legitimately err
on the side of caution under those circumstances," he writes,
the marines. "War is about killing your enemy before he kills you.
I can't know what was in the mind of that marine. He is the only one who
- But Sites added: "As an experienced war
who was aware of possible mitigating circumstances, it appeared to me very
plainly that something was not right. I was not watching from a hundred
feet away. I was in the same room. Aside from breathing, I did not observe
- A moment later, the marine who fired the shot became
aware that Mr Sites was in the room. "He came up to me and said: 'I
didn't know sir - I didn't know.' The anger that seemed present just
before turned to fear and dread."
- Mr Sites said he wrestled with whether to broadcast the
tape, or destroy it, but decided that "hiding [the incident] wouldn't
make it go away."
- There had been other people in the room and what happened
was bound to come out, he concluded.
- © 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd