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Incident on Haifa Street

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At Belmont Club, Wretchard is asking hard questions of the Associated Press, about this appalling photograph (one of a series):

A gunman, left, shoots and kills a man lying in Baghdad’s Haifa Street after being pulled from a car Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004. The man at right on his knees was executed moments later, along with another man not shown in picture. About 30 militants hurling hand grenades and firing machine guns attacked a car carrying five people employed by the commission’s Baghdad office and tried ‘to drag them out,’ said Adel al-Lami, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. (AP Photo/Str)

Here’s what Wretchard wrote about this scene, several days ago:

Even with today’s proliferation of compact photographic equipment, a legitimate photojournalist rarely gets the opportunity to capture an execution. Apart from the beheadings which are purposely recorded on video by the jihadis and from gun camera film, most footage of people actually being shot are taken by photographers in company with combatants who are ready to film an ambush. Those individuals are combat cameramen for their armies or embedded reporters. The most famous analogue to the Associated Press sequence of photographs is probably the Eddie Adams photo of the execution of Vietcong Captain Bay Lop by South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. Adams owed that opportunity to General Loan himself, who brought Adams along to cover what he believed to be a justifiable summary execution. Adams depressed the shutter at exactly the moment Loan fired and photo analysis actually shows the impact of the bullet on Bay Lop’s skull.

It may have been pure luck, but it was surely the longest of odds that would have brought an Associated Press cameraman to the site of a surprise attack on two Iraqi electoral workers. As it was, the AP photograph was unable to capture the actual execution, only the moments shortly before and after the Iraqis were killed. Although the Eddie Adams photograph was widely used to illustrate the ‘brutality’ of the Saigon government, the photos taken by the Associated Press are unlikely to reflect badly on the electoral worker’s killers. Press reports highlight the confidence and boldness of the insurgents. “Both of the victims shown in the sequence wore traditional Arab headscarfs. In contrast, the attackers were bareheaded and apparently unafraid to show their faces”, suggesting that ‘collaborators’ must conceal their faces while the Ba’athists stride with impunity through the light of day. It was fortunate for the AP that their photographer was accidentally there.

At LGF, we have linked to (and shown) numerous pictures of mujahideen attacking coalition forces with all sorts of weapons. Every one of these photographs, from AP, Reuters, and Agence France Presse, has carried a byline for the photographer who shot it. AP stringers have never been shy about identifying themselves, even when standing a few feet away from terrorists.

Yet, the caption for the photo above conceals the identity of the photographer. Why?

Is it possible that this photo was not merely the work of an AP photographer who knew in advance of the attack—but was in fact, shot by an accomplice of the murderers who supplied the photo to the Associated Press? The propaganda value of the photo to the mujahideen is undeniable; it sends a terrifying message to any Iraqi who supports the upcoming elections.

Whatever the reason, the Associated Press needs to explain how this series of disgusting photographs came to be.

And another curious fact: earlier this month, I noted a report that a holy warrior snuff film had been provided to Al Jazeera by … none other than the Associated Press.

Other bloggers who think AP has some serious ’splaining to do: Roger L. Simon and Power Line.

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