The grainy video (click to download) shows the view of an Iraqi street from the back of a moving vehicle. The long barrel of a gun, held by someone inside the vehicle, swings across the frame and viewers see the effect of bullets, apparently fired from the vehicle, spraying civilian cars coming up behind. Bloggers claim that the man with the gun is Danny Heydenreycher, a South African employee of Aegis at Camp Victory.
In one of the four separate incidents, after shots are fired, viewers see a Mercedes car crash into a taxi; passengers flee from the taxi, but no movement is seen in the Mercedes, suggesting that the passengers were injured or killed.
According to Robert Young Pelton, author of an upcoming book, "Licensed to Kill: The Privatization of the War on Terror," the people driving the vehicle are part of a convoy of private military contractors. The video was originally posted on an unofficial Web site run by a disgruntled contractor working for Aegis Defence Services. (The website claims to be a voice for to "the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company." The video has been deleted from the site but has taken on a life of its own in the blogosphere.)
Aegis holds several sweeping Pentagon contracts in Iraq worth over $430 million. In published news reports, Tim Spicer, the head of Aegis, insists that an internal investigation of the matter is ongoing and notes that there is no evidence that the video involved Aegis. Authorities in Baghdad are also apparently looking into the video, which has torched a firestorm of criticism as bloggers ponder if the United States uses private contractors who shoot unarmed Iraqis.
Pelton, who spent a month with armed convoys running the road from the Green Zone headquarters in Iraq of the U.S. military and government to the Baghdad International Airport, said he understands the public concerns over the conduct of armed private security companies working in Iraq. Private security companies are known to regularly fire guns in the streets as a warning to clear traffic and to caution vehicles coming up from behind.
"The US military considers all of Iraq a war zone," said Pelton. "Contractors are the frequent target of car bombs, but there are rules and professional standards. Two of the four incidents are trigger happy contractors. It's a good bet that all of the victims of the incidents will generate some type of retribution against the security industry. Even in a war zone, there is a clear line between professional security providers and amateurs. This video shows how not to conduct vehicle security."
Another source who is familiar with private security operators in Iraq says that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a hostile vehicle carrying a bomb and innocent Iraqi civilians driving toward you. Under rules issued by the Pentagon, any private security team member is expected to wave off a possible threat, fire warning shots and then shoot at the vehicle's engine to stop it. Team members are also allowed to shoot to kill as the last resort in a situation of pressing circumstances.
"Some team members are scared all the time and shoot a lot, some are scared once and a while and shoot once and a while, some are never scared and never shoot," the source said. "You can never tell when you are about to get blown up, that's why some contractors get blown up or they would have shot the driver."
link to www.telegraph.co.uk