Michael Ware


TIME: Caught on Tape


TIME has received a 27-minute-long video from anti-U.S. resistance fighters, documenting an attack on a U.S. position at an old Iraqi ammunition facility. The tape was allegedly produced by Mohammed's Second Army, one of the three groups who claimed credit for the U.N. bombing. This particular cell, the Anbar Branch, did not pull off that bombing, but they claim to have some knowledge of that attack. The video taped aired on ABC News on Wednesday night and can be viewed at abcnews.com.

Shot the night of Sept. 6, the video shows an attack on the ammunition storage point at Khaldiya, on the outskirts of the Sunni-dominated town of Falljuah, just west of Baghdad. The ammo dump is about 1.25 miles long and, according to a U.S. military engineer, contains so much ammunition it would take weapons disposal experts a year to blow it all up. Since the official end of hostilities in May, anti-U.S. forces have been raiding the facility, taking mines, anti-tank rounds and other weapons . The unit currently based there, from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's 2nd Squadron, is keeping tanks and armored vehicles on the ridge at all hours to guard against more theft. "We shoot anything that moves up here," says one U.S. soldier.

Still, U.S. troops are often tested, and this video portrays one such assault. Shot on nightvision lenses, the video first shows a resistance commander drawing a map in the dirt with a stick, identifying how they will attack, as four footsoldiers with scarves round their faces listen. They discuss breaking into three groups. First, a machine gun is to engage the Americans. The attackers' mortar will then start hitting the ammo storage. In the light of the explosions, the Iraqi resistance fighters hope to glean the number of vehicles the Americans possess — and clarify targets for further RPG and mortar attacks.

The video then cuts to a silhouetted ridgeline overlooking the ammo dump. Neither U.S.vehicles nor attackers can be seen. The voice of someone counting down can be heard. One, two, three, and moments later a huge blast rips up from behind the ridge. Then explosions are heard and the fireworks begin. After some time someone off-camera makes a short speech in Arabic. Translated, it says: "The people who made this operation are from the few honored Iraqi mujahideen and we ask any honored Iraqis to defend this country and we can't accept any forces, Arab or foreigners, whoever it is, whether it is to reconstruct or occupy it. Depend on Allah, mujahideen, and do it!"

The next scene shows four unarmed Iraqi footsoldiers running into view, passing under a line of barb wire, as explosions rip in the background. They give an after action report to their commander: "We exploded it. We are Mohammed's Second Army. Whatever you order us to do, we'll do it, sir, for the sake of jihad, our country, our religion and our Islam, in one strong hand. We will die for the sake of Saddam Hussein and to bring him back to run this country."

"Good work," the commander responds repeatedly. The four then claim that they destroyed Humvees and other targets. U.S. officers, however, say that not only were no Americans injured in this attack, no U.S. vehicles were destroyed. The only damage was to one ammo dump protected by U.S. tanks.

TIME has confirmed that an attack occurred on Sept. 6 on the ammunition storage facility. One soldier involved in the defense of the area says that the Americans do not know who did it, or how they did it. That same night, the airbase where the U.S. forces are headquartered came under fire, as did another position.

The video also shows the aftermath of another RPG attack, on Sept. 11, which destroyed a U.S. semi-trailer and a large transport truck. It shows 50 people dancing by the flames, chanting "we give our blood and souls for you Saddam." A Fedayeen member, his face unshrouded, then shoots the flaming wreck twice with an AK-47. The Anbar branch also claims responsibility for this ambush.