Friday, September 14, 2007


Islamic State of Iraq shows body of U.S. pilot

(AP) -- An al-Qaida-linked insurgent group released a video Thursday showing what it called the body of a U.S. pilot killed in Iraq last year, a photograph of his identification card and footage of his aircraft's wreckage site. The video, posted on a Web site commonly used by Islamic militants, also blamed President Bush for the pilot's death and for pushing "thousands of American soldiers to the incinerator in Iraq."
It was first obtained by the IntelCenter monitoring group in suburban Washington. The footage, more than 11 minutes long and with English subtitles, bears the insignia of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, and its al-Furqan media production wing. Titled "The Missing," the video shows the ID card photograph of Air Force pilot Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, whose F-16CG crashed Nov. 27, 2006, some 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.
It also shows a body laid out on a plastic sheet in Air Force uniform, with the head covered. It was not clear if the body was filmed at the wreckage site or elsewhere outdoors. The U.S. military initially listed Gilbert as missing but later confirmed his death. U.S. forces who investigated the crash have said insurgents reached the site before American forces could. At the time, video footage obtained by AP Television News showed what appeared to be the wreckage of his plane in a field and a tangled parachute nearby.
Ben Venzke, head of the IntelCenter, said the monitors believe the body and aircraft in the militant video belonged to the U.S. pilot. "They went to an extra effort to make the video accessible to Americans and the English-speaking world," Venzke said, referring to the video's English subtitles. "It's essentially a propaganda piece and criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq."
The video also contained an audio clip said to be from Osama bin Laden, a video of Abu Yahia al-Libi, the al-Qaida commander who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan, and an audio clip of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who heads the Islamic State in Iraq. The clips were believed to be old.
When Gilbert's death was announced, the Air Force declined to say whether his body had been recovered, saying only that some remains had been found. Those remains likely enabled Gilbert's subsequent identification. Gilbert was assigned to the 309th Fighter Squadron. He is survived by wife and five children, who live outside Phoenix.

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