OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The brother of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana said he was deliberately murdered for discovering mass graves of U.S. troops killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.
"The U.S. troops killed my brother in cold blood," Nazmi Dana told IslamOnline.net in exclusive statements.
"The U.S. occupation troops shot dead my brother on purpose, although he was wearing his press badge, which was also emblazoned on the car he was driving," he said.
He also recalled that his brother had obtained a prior permit from the U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq to film in the site.
On Sunday, August 17, U.S. troops shot dead the award-winning Reuters cameraman while he was filming near the U.S.-run Abu Gharib prison in Baghdad.
His last pictures show a U.S. tank driving toward him outside the prison walls, several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground.
"Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks," Nazmi said.
"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from airing his findings."
Nazmi said that the U.S. occupation troops were slowing down the transfer of his brother's body to his hometown city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in the West Bank.
"At the very beginning, the Americans refused to transfer his body outside Iraq. After Reuters intervened they offered to allow us to take the body to Jordan by road but we refused because of the state of insecurity in Iraq," he said.
"Thanks to Reuters international and diplomatic contacts, the U.S. troops reluctantly agreed to transfer the body on an army plane to Kuwait. From there, the body will be flown to Jordan and finally Palestine to be laid to rest," added the grieved brother.
Mazen's wife, Umm Hamza, did not rule out that the U.S. troops targeted her husband personally, noting they had agreed to give him a permit to film Abu Gharib prison and then he was directly shot dead by two U.S. tanks.
Resolved as she was, Umm Hamza said the death of her husband came as a bombshell, especially that she expected him to be killed while covering the developments in Palestine for his bravery and rare heroism.
"Filming Abu Gharib was his last mission; he was scheduled to leave Baghdad after getting the job done.
"I lost the dearest man to my heart, he was caring and was loved by all his friends and relatives," she lamented.
Mazen's camera was the Israeli settlers' archenemy, given that he exposed to the entire world their terrorism against the Palestinians and their wildcat outposts sprawling in four Al-Khalil posts.
His death cast a pall of sadness over the Palestinian territories and reporters, who mourned him as "a matchless colleague."
All international and local news agencies sent cables of condolences to his family, lauding his patriotism and determination to uncover the truth wherever it was.
The Palestinian information ministry and press syndicate issued two separate statements, condemning the attack on Mazen and the continued targeting of journalists.
The two statements demanded the U.S. to show some respect for human beings, particularly reporters, pointing out that Mazen was a distinguished journalist who did his best to serve his country and cause.
The ministry further urged all Arab and international press unions "to open a probe into this crime and expose to the entire world the murderers who have blood on their hands and put them on trial."
Furthermore, dozens of Palestinian journalists protested on Tuesday morning in Al-Khalil at the killing of Mazen.
The marchers put on a peaceful demonstration from the House of the Palestinian Press established by the deceased and other journalists.
In Bethlehem, journalists also held a mock funeral for Mazen, denouncing the U.S. occupation of Iraq and displaying placards condemning his "assassination."
A U.S. military inquiry has recently exonerated an American tank crew for firing on a Baghdad hotel housing journalists, killing two foreign reporters and wounded three others.