Iraq Video Purports to Show Dead U.S. Soldiers

A video released by Iraqi insurgent groups features what it says are the mutilated bodies of two American soldiers. It claims they were killed in revenge for the rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman. Five U.S. soldiers are being held on charges relating to the rape and killing.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We're going to hear more now about one of the latest videos released by Iraqi insurgent groups. It purports to show the bodies of two American soldiers.

An al-Qaida linked group posted the video on a Web site today and it claims they were killed in revenge for the rape and slaying of a young Iraqi woman by American troops from the same unit. The two soldiers were captured in an attack on June 16th.

We're going to go now to NPR's Jamie Tarabay who's been following this story in Baghdad.

And, Jamie, by claiming a connection to this rape case, has this group attached itself to a big story in Iraq?

JAMIE TARABAY reporting:

It seems to be that way. There's been a lot of anger and resentment that's come up as a result of this incident in Mahmoudiya. It was the latest, as far as Iraqis were concerned, of allegations of abuse, you know, crimes carried out by U.S. forces. But this in particular, this is the rape and the murder of a young Iraqi girl, is something that is, strikes at the very heart of Iraqi honor. And by linking themselves to this, they're really from, you know, from my point of view, trying to leverage this politically and gain some more support.

INSKEEP: And when you say leverage this politically, I suppose we should look at the dates here, right? This attack took place on June 16th. Was the alleged rape and murder - were they known about at that time?

TARABAY: No. No. Not at all. The alleged rape and murder apparently occurred in March. But when this - I mean first of all we had the soldiers go missing and then we had an al-Qaida linked group say that they had them. And then we had a statement come out saying that it had killed them. And then we also had the reports of a video that had come out showing that they had, you know, showing these mutilated bodies. And it's only now that they're actually saying, yes, we did this in retaliation for the crimes that happened in Mahmoudiya.

So the revelations of Mahmoudiya have only come out in the last couple of weeks, so they're - I mean, it doesn't really follow.

INSKEEP: So we're seeing a little bit more of a public relations strategy here, which we've been discussing on the program today. And at the same time, Jamie Tarabay, in Baghdad, I gather it's been another violent day in Baghdad.

TARABAY: Yes, there's been a lot of violence. We've had a lot of - there've been a couple of car bomb attacks and explosions. In Baghdad in particular, there were at least two explosions outside the green zone. We had an incident in - just outside a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad where ten people were killed when their bus was ambushed by gunmen. Apparently, according to some of the police, the bus was actually carrying a coffin to be taken down to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to be buried there.

We also understand that an Iraqi diplomat who's serving in Iran was kidnapped. He just returned to see his family and take some leave, and he's been abducted.

INSKEEP: It's been a month or so since the new security plan was imposed on Baghdad. Is it making any difference?

TARABAY: Well, I would actually argue that there's been more violence since. I mean, there is, I guess, an incentive or a motivation by the insurgent groups to prove that this plan isn't really going to effect them too much.

But also, there are a lot of questions about the way that the security forces are, you know, distributed in the capital and what their responsibilities have been. We understood from the beginning that when this plan was to be implemented that, you know, certain areas would be raided. But so far it's just been a big presence on the main streets and a lot of the, you know, the troubled neighborhoods haven't really been effected too much by this.

INSKEEP: Okay, thanks very much. That's NPR's Jamie Tarabay in Baghdad today.

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