- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

BAGHDAD — A video posted yesterday on the Internet in the name of an extremist group claimed to show Iraqi insurgents dragging the burning body of a U.S. pilot on the ground after the crash of an Apache helicopter.

Parts of the video were blurry, and the face of the man was not shown. His clothes were tattered, but he appeared to be wearing military fatigues.

The U.S. military condemned the posting and said that although reports of a Web site video “suggest that terrorists removed part of a body from the crash site, the authenticity of the video cannot be confirmed.”

The U.S. military said an AH-64D Apache Longbow crashed about 5:30 p.m. Saturday because of what it suspected was hostile fire west of Youssifiyah, about 10 miles southwest of Baghdad, while conducting a combat air patrol.

The video has a date stamp of Sunday, April 2, and runs from 4:03 to 4:08 p.m. The time stamp shows the minutes and seconds do not run sequentially and the scenes appear disjointed, suggesting the tape was altered.

“We are outraged that anyone would create and publish such a despicable video for public exposure,” U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said.

On Sunday, the military said the pilots were “presumed dead” and that recovery efforts were under way, indicating they had not fully secured the site or retrieved the bodies. The military later identified the dead pilots as Capt. Timothy J. Moshier, 25, of Albany, N.Y., and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick, of Orrick, Mo.

The video was posted by a group calling itself the Shura Council of Mujahedeen. The group claimed its military wing had shot down the aircraft.

Statements on Islamist Web sites said the council was organized in January to consolidate al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups. The move was seen as a bid by insurgents to lower the profile of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, whose mass attacks against Shi’ite civilians have tarnished the image of the insurgents among many Iraqis.

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was cross-examined for the first time in his six-month-old trial yesterday, saying he approved death sentences against Shi’ites in the 1980s because he thought the evidence had proved they were involved in an assassination attempt against him.

Saddam, standing alone as the sole defendant in the courtroom, dodged some questions from prosecutors over his role in the crackdown, giving long speeches calling the court illegitimate. He accused the current Shi’ite-led Interior Ministry of killing and torturing thousands of Iraqis and bickered with Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman.

On Tuesday, prosecutors indicted Saddam on separate charges of genocide, accusing him of trying to exterminate Kurds in a 1980s campaign that killed an estimated 100,000 people. The charges will be addressed in a separate trial.

In the current trial, Saddam and seven former members of his regime are charged in a crackdown against Shi’ites launched after the 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail.

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