See Peaceniks, Baghdad Airport Is Safe And Beautiful
every day the flights come in and out, fully protected by the American Liberators--just look at this DHL cargo liner coming in right now, there is absolutely no reason to . . . wait, what is that?! the plane's wing is on fire! what were those puffs of smoke I saw coming over the end of the runway at ground level a minute ago--it's been hit by a missile! HOLY **CK, 10 militants, with keffiyeh headdresses and white scarves firing SA-14 Gremlins ON VIDEO?!!!--ok, from now on the Baghdad airport perimeter will be patrolled by sentries 24 hours a day, and we will not be allowing civilian passenger flights here until at least 2005, if ever again . . .
Video shows nearly dozen militants in strike on DHL cargo jet
BAGHDAD (AFP) Nov 25, 2003
A video showing a masked militant firing the missile that hit a DHL civilian cargo jet over Baghdad, setting its engine ablaze in the first successful hit on a plane of the seven-month-old insurgency, was delivered to a French journalist and shown to AFP Monday.
The six-minute-long footage, received by Sara Daniel, correspondent of Paris-based weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, shows 10 militants, with their faces concealed by chequered keffiyeh headdresses or white scarves, carrying out the attack from scrubland south of the capital.
The shoulder-launched missile is seen shooting up into the sky after being fired by one of the cell and then homing in on the Airbus-300 freighter.
The vapour trail makes a sharp U-turn as the missile homes in on the infra-red or radio signals from the scheduled Baghdad to Dubai courier flight.
The militants are then seen making their get-away in a car. The 11th who presumably shot the footage films his own lap in his haste to get into the vehicle.
After a break, the video resumes with footage of the stricken airliner diving back down to Baghdad airport, in clearly amateur footage shot through electricity lines.
The men, clad in flowing black abayas or camouflage fatigues, carry rocket-propelled grenade launchers or Kalashnikovs as well as two portable missile launchers.
Only one missile is seen fired.
Before the firing, a US army helicopter is seen hovering in the middle distance, but the militants have clearly chosen their target and leave the military aircraft alone.
Tall grass partially obstructs the view of the chopper. It is unclear whether it is the undergrowth that prevents the soldiers aboard from spotting the militants, or the three cars they have parked on a dusty path as they ready their strike.
The missile launcher is an SA-14 Gremlin, not an SA-7 Grail as initially reported by the US military.
Both are made by Russian firm Strela (Arrow) but the Gremlin is heavier, weighing in at 16 kilogrammes (35 pounds), compared with the 9.15 kilogrammes (20 pounds) of the Grail.
The SA-14 has a range of 2,000 metres (yards) when used against an approaching jet, although this is extended to 4,500 metres when used against a helicopter or propellor-driven aircraft.
Daniel said the video had been left at her hotel Sunday. She said she had no idea why she had been chosen among the hundreds of other journalists covering the persistent insurgency that has dogged the seven-month-old US-led occupation.
"I have been working on a feature on the resistance groups for several weeks. I've no idea who these people are who carried out this attack but maybe they had heard of me through the others I have met while researching my piece."
The French journalist said the militants she had met were "Islamic militants who were bitterly opposed to Saddam Hussein's regime and whose only aim now is to end the US occupation."
Nobody was hurt in Saturday's missile strike after a miraculous emergency landing at Baghdad airport but the hit prompted the suspension by the US military of all commercial civilian flights into the Iraqi capital, severing a key link to the outside world as the coalition tries to rebuild the country.
The decision affected both DHL, the only commercial courier to fly into Iraq, and Royal Wings, a subsidiary of Royal Jordanian, that offered the only regular passenger service, albeit not open to all.
The only carrier to continue flying in now, apart from the coalition military and administration, is Air Serv International, a non-governmental organisation that specialises in war zones and offers flights only on the most restricted basis.
It made a flight to Amman on Monday.
Tens of thousands of surface-to-air missiles were bought by Saddam Hussein's regime, many of which fell into civilian hands after the collapse of his armed forces during the US-led spring invasion.
The coalition has set up a buy-back programme in an attempt to get the weapons off the streets but acknowledges that hundreds probably remain in the hands of their foes.
The threat has prevented the reopening of Baghdad airport to scheduled flights ever since the entry of US troops despite huge initial interest from international carriers.
address: Agence France-Presse
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