Was the Haditha Massacre an al-Qaeda Operation? (Updated)
Some startling documents from military intelligence gathered for the prosecution of the Marines charged in the Haditha massacre reveal that we had gotten wind of an al-Qaeda operation in the weeks previous to the incident that threatened a massacre of civilians in order to turn the local population against the Marines as well as damage the repution of the military:
Buried in the mountain of exhibits attached to the once secret Haditha, Iraq murder inquiry prepared by US Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell is an obscure Marine Corps intelligence summary (see pdf) that says the deadly encounter was an intentional propaganda ploy planned and paid for by Al Qaeda foreign fighters.Apparently, the attack was carried out local extremist backed by foreign fighters in al-Qaeda. The documents reveal that the insurgents set a trap for the Marines by hiding behind civilians and that they planned to videotape the massacre for maximum propaganda effect:
Veteran military defense attorney Gary Meyers said he never understood why the Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agents leading the Haditha criminal investigation didn’t “examine the linkage” between Al Qaeda, the local insurgency and the events at Haditha. Meyers was an attorney on the defense team that successfully defended Justin Sharratt, a Marine infantryman accused of multiple murders at Haditha.
The report – apparently overlooked by a Washington press corps awash in leaked Bargewell documents and secret Naval Criminal Investigative Service reports – shows that Marine Corps intelligence operatives were advised of the scheme to demonize the Marines by an informant named Muhannad Hassan Hamadi. The informant was snared by 3/1 Marines on December 11 2005 and decided to cooperate.
Eleven insurgents involved in the attack are identified by name and affiliation in the details of the summary. All of them were killed or captured in the days immediately following the Haditha incident. During the November Haditha battle, the insurgents secreted themselves among local civilians to guarantee pursuing Marines would catch innocent civilians in the ensuing crossfire.Will this make any difference at all with a media that has flogged the Haditha story from the beginning as a defining atrocity in the Iraq War? Not when they have so much invested in trying to show the Marines as murderous thugs executing civilians at the drop of a hat. In fact, those intelligence documents have been part of the record for many months and not one media outlet saw fit to read them and put two and two together.
On January 6, 2006 six insurgents who tried to do the same thing at another location in Haditha were turned in to Coalition authorities before they could mount a similar assault, the report says.
If curiosity killed the cat, incuriosity will kill the mainstream press.
Allahpundit at Hot Air is extremely skeptical of the "massacre bait" story and makes a compelling argument against it. The way the story comes out in the documents is indeed confusing.
But at least one would think that such information would be examined by the media if only to be debunked. It calls into question whether or not there is a deliberate bias to ignore anything exculpatory in this incident in order to facilitate a "rush to judgement" that has since proven to be false since all but one of the Marines have been exonerated in both the massacre and the alledged "cover up" of the incident.