Shooting in Tal Afar

by Kieran Healy on February 1, 2005

Somehow I missed “this appalling sequence of photographs”: of a shooting in Iraq a few days ago, probably because they were running in newspapers outside the U.S. on inauguration day. I want to know whether any of them — especially “this one”: — ran anywhere in the U.S. media?

Look, I know I’m asking for trouble. I don’t want the comments to degenerate into angry whataboutery. All kinds of terrible things happen — purposely and by accident — in war zones. These photos are just awful. That’s all.



Dick Thompson 02.01.05 at 11:41 pm

This exact pattern of behavior has been replicated numerous times since the early part of the invasion. US troops manning a checkpoint, a car that refuses to stop. Troops fire. Dead civilians who were just to spooked to obey orders. It’s like a syllogism. It’s horrible each time whether pictures were taken or not. But how could it be corrected?


Mill 02.01.05 at 11:47 pm

BoingBoing linked to the Newsday version of them here.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that a certain pundit had a post half-written, too. “The media would be all over this if it were US tr… oh, wait… it WAS US troops. Heh. Don’t read the whole thing.”


Yuri Guri 02.01.05 at 11:57 pm

The photographs are on the Newsweek website, along with an audio commentary from the photographer, Chris Hondros. One of the pictures, showing the pulverized body of the father, is obscured on the BBC site, but Newsweek shows the gore.

He gives some context for the pictures, although he couldn’t get much specific information about the family because the Iraqi military translator working for the US didn’t speak english very well (go figure).


paul 02.02.05 at 12:19 am

But what about the schools that are open now?


John Isbell 02.02.05 at 12:19 am

As to prevention, I wonder how common this is with UK troops. Frankly I have no idea, except that Brits have avoided such stuff in the past.


Blinking Deer 02.02.05 at 12:26 am

So, does the estimated war cost to the U.S. include increased future likelihood of violence against the U.S., or the mental health scars to returning servicemen?

The costs to Iraqis are beyond me.


Jonah Duckles 02.02.05 at 12:41 am

It was apparently on page A5 of the LA Times on Jan 19th according to Doc Searls. That is where I first heard about it at least.


Jonah Duckles 02.02.05 at 12:42 am

It was apparently on page A5 of the LA Times on Jan 19th according to Doc Searls. That is where I first heard about it at least.


George 02.02.05 at 12:47 am

Man that is heartbreaking. All political and strategic considerations aside, this goddamn war cannot end too soon.

I do remember one brief moment, maybe for two or three days after the fall of Baghdad, when millions of Iraqis really did greet the Coalition as liberators. American troops walked the streets openly and mingled with Iraqis, and road checkpoints were more like traffic stops than fortresses. Then came a rash of point-black assassinations and suicide car bombs, and all that touchy-feely stuff ended real quick, and we learned that we were in a real war. I hope we are closer to the end than the beginning.


Peggy 02.02.05 at 1:15 am

Steve Gilliard
posted the pics.

“Every day in Iraq brings a tragedy like this. The kids who are expected to make life and death decisions. The kids who suffer from them. The kids who don’t come back. A cycle of misery which was preventable and may never end. What happens to these people? The soldiers who have to live with a nightmare of a decision, the image of a toddler screaming in pure terror and covered in blood. The children who are orphaned by this.”

“I don’t think for a second that everyone involved wouldn’t like to take back that moment, do something different, so they didn’t kill a family or get killed. But there are no do overs in life.”


Kathy 02.02.05 at 3:38 am

Kieran, why should it be “asking for trouble” to post these photographs and ask why and how something like this can happen? When people say “Well, it’s war, and terrible things happen in war,” to me, that’s totally begging the question. It’s a total evasion of the issue. It’s the same as if people in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran said, after 9/11, “Well, it’s terrorism, and terrible things happen with terrorism.” Yeah, man, right. That’s why terrorism and war (really the same thing) are WRONG.

I cannot look at that picture, or so many more like it, without feeling like my insides are being ripped out. And it will never be over, for that girl.

I don’t know if you read, but George Paine, who writes that blog, had a photograph very similar to the one you posted. It was the same situation. Soldiers ordered a car to stop, fired warning shots, and then shot up the car. It was a girl and her parents. Both her parents were killed. Shot dead in front of her eyes. And she was covered in blood, with her mouth open, screaming.


bad Jim 02.02.05 at 4:45 am

One of these pictures was all over the liberal blogosphere. Jeanne d’Arc linked it to the New York Times and also linked the photographer’s account at Newsday.

I don’t remember seeing it in the L.A. Times, but then I would have seen it on line before the paper arrived.


Dawna 02.02.05 at 5:38 am

Estimated 100,000 innocent Iraqi’s killed in this war, half of those were children. I wonder how many times that scene was repeated without cameras to capture it.


Jake McGuire 02.02.05 at 6:01 am

“One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”

Looks like Uncle Joe was smarter than we give him credit for.

And these photos seem a lot less awful than they could be – you don’t see this after most suicide car bombings, for instance. For what it’s worth, which is not much.


Matthew 02.02.05 at 8:58 am

It’s important to attach (ugly) realities to abstract, distant constructs like “curfew”, “lockdown”, “maximum security” etc.


billyfrombelfast 02.02.05 at 3:22 pm

It was on the front of the Boston Globe, if I remember correctly, and the front of the Irish Times too.


Rich 02.02.05 at 3:55 pm

>> Brits have avoided such stuff in the past.

Lee Clegg?


RS 02.02.05 at 4:15 pm

Didn’t Lee Clegg & Co fire at a stolen car, as it came at their check-point, claiming self defence – he was then done for firing a couple of rounds at the car as it drove off, which was deemed not to be self defence (although I think he had his charge quashed in the end).

Not quite the same, but I admit that was my first thought when I read the comment.


RS 02.02.05 at 4:33 pm

Oh, should point out that Clegg killed someone, he didn’t just fire at the car.


bryna 02.02.05 at 7:32 pm

fyi: i saw the photos online and the next day i saw them shown in sequence on, i think, cnn. i belive it was either on paula zahn or 360. but definately the whole series. then the discussed them briefly and provided a quote by someone in the military saying that as bad as it was we should remember that as soon as the soldiers realized what happened the sprung into action to help the children. not to be snide, but i’m sure that made the children feel a lot better. i feel sorry for everyone in this situation, children and soldiers. there plenty of nightmares to go around.


jet 02.02.05 at 8:05 pm

That one of the little girl kind of makes it hard to breath.


Robert Ramsdell 02.02.05 at 9:36 pm

I saw picture #4 in Newsweek, next to (or a few pages apart from) a picture of the Bush twins in ball gowns for the inaguration. I have a son and daughter the same age as the Iraqi children, and the pictures make me want to cry.


aghast 02.07.05 at 7:54 am

1 there wasnt a ROADBLOCK

2 again stupid GIs kill without reason, only no babies this time


aghast 02.07.05 at 7:56 am

1 there wasnt a ROADBLOCK

2 again stupid GIs kill without reason, only no babies this time

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