The Extra Footage: Answer to Nagle

I received this from a reader at the Second Draft.

Dear Richard Landes,

Firstly, thank you for your informative and crucial work.

I have a question which I hope you can answer. I have just been reading the article ‘Who Killed Muhammed Al Dura?‘ by Amnon Lord, in which he states that: “Some twenty TV photographers were in the area and not one of them filmed it [the shooting of the ambulance driver], while the scene depicting the death of Al-Dura was filmed by Abu-Rahma and one other photographer. (Shahaf later discovered the second photographer’s film.)”

One of the things that made me highly suspicious of the Al-Dura scene was that it was based on the testimony and witness of one, evidently dishonest Palestinian stringer. The fact that other, independant footage of the event exists makes me less certain that we have been deceived. Why have I heard so little mention of this alternative footage? I would like to know who was it made by, and what does it show?

Two other cameramen were at the scene while the Al Durahs were allegedly pinned behind the barrel although they got no footage of the shooting scene. You can view the AP cameraman’s footage and the Reuter’s cameraman’s footage, along with all the other relevant material available — just not the rest of Talal’s rushes — at the Second Draft, The Raw Footage.

This footage raises important questions: if, as Talal reported, the al Durahs took refuge behind the barrel and were pinned by a hail of bullets for 40 minutes, then:
1) why do camera crewmen continue to come behind them, unprotected by the barrel and manage to leave but not take the father and son with them?
2) why do the cameramen, like the Reuter’s cameraman, leave the area (segments 10-12) rather than stay and film? As Talal says, “why I send throwing stones when I have shooting?”
3) why, with all the cameramen there, once the father and son had been shot, an ambulance driver also shot, and the bodies and badly wounded father finally loaded onto an ambulance, did none of them come by to get some footage — very valuable footage! — and none call ahead to Shiffa hospital in Gaza City (20 minutes away) and warn photographers there are the scoop of the century coming their way?

I would be enormously grateful if you could fill this gap in my knowledge, as I have failed to find any mention of a second witness to the event in other writings.

Hope this has helped.

Many thanks, and please continue your invauable work – Augean Stables is among the most fascinating and thought-provoking writing on a situation that often generates more heat then light – or should that be \’more hate than light?\’.

I got yelled at when I put the site up for not being more of an advocate. I believe that people a) have common sense, and b) need to make up their own mind. I don’t hide what I think, but I don’t think people should be pushed into positions they’re not convinced by.

2 Responses to The Extra Footage: Answer to Nagle


    Olavo de Carvalho
    Época, September 15, 2001

    Some explanations of a crime are not explanations: they’re part of the crime.

    “We will no longer distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor them,” said President George W. Bush following the September attacks.

    There are four ways to harbor a terrorist group. There are the states that arm or shelter them, the false organisms that disguise them, the legal or illegal fortunes that subsidize them, and last but not least the “opinion makers” who support their armed aggression through acts of misinformation and psychological warfare.

    The first three forms of collaboration require direct contact with the criminals, but the fourth by definition has a expansive and evanescent nature. A small team may conceive the verbal commands and phony information, but there is no other way the messages can be dispersed but through a network of informal helpers, wherein the most outlying contributors, seemingly unsuspecting individuals, with no knowledge of the decision makers, merely echo the orders without question what their sources are. From directors to militants, and from militants to “travelling companions,” and on to mere simpletons, the formulas handed down from the commander spread in concentric circles in a controlled, almost quantifiable progression. Organizing and activating this type of operation is a well-developed technique. All totalitarian regimes and parties strive to install training centers for these kind of professionals, especially since the 1930s when Soviet networks of misinformation were established by Karl Radek and grew strongly among Western intellectuals, thanks to the evil genius of Willi Munzenberg.

    Those most directly involved in providing protection for the criminals behind the September attacks are surely far from Brazil, in Asia, Europe, and even the U.S. But the network of misinformation and psychological warfare would not possibly go on without reaching here.

    Before the last brick of the World Trade Center touched the ground, “specialists” and “international analysts,” all notoriously sympathetic or tied to leftist movements, rushed to the television cameras or to the newspapers to:

    1) Soften the horrible impression of a monstrous crime, and legitimize it as the “natural consequence” of the militarism and willfulness of the Bush administration.

    2) Highlight the vulnerability of the U.S., above all, and contrast that with the image of the mighty U.S. economy.

    The first is misinformation, and the second is psychological warfare.

    On one hand, the U.S. has done nothing in the past decade but withdraw its military presence and disarm its forces, reducing stocks of atomic weapons to a fifth of the Russian and Chinese reserves and ceding increasingly larger shares of its sovereignty to the UN. It’s true that George W. Bush is reacting against that. But a complex operation like the September attacks could not have been improvised in the months following his arrival to office. The attack was not a response to Bush’s fervent attitudes, rather it was planned to take advantage of the suicidal complacency of the Clinton administration. And it worked.

    On the other hand, there is no defense system that could possibly prevent the type of terrorist attack that shook New York and Washington. If they happened in the U.S. and not in China, in Cuba or in Iraq, that’s simply because only dictatorial regimes train fanatics for this type of kamikaze operation. Therefore this case does not expose any special vulnerability. Any praise to this vulnerability is a lie designed to discredit the U.S., painting it as a rich and weak country, in order to transform, in the soul of the peoples, admiration into envy and rancor and fear into aggressive anger.

    These two opinions, broadcast in the Brazilian media with exemplary uniformity, are not interpretations or explanations of an act of war: they are part of it. The individuals behind them do not distinguish, morally or maybe even politically, from the planners and agents of this murderous operation.

  2. Michael Nagle says:

    Dear Richard Landes,

    Thank you – you’ve cleared things up. I was familiar with the footage of the father and son briefly filmed hiding behind the barrel, but Amnon Lord made it sound as though the actual ‘death’ scene had been independently filmed by a second cameraman. You’ve cleared up for me the misconception that his language (or perhaps the translation, if English was not the original language of the article) had created in my mind.

    I agree with you one hundred percent – the additional footage of the scene behind the barrel makes the shooting seem more rather than less suspicious. It was as though the father knew that he and his son had one job and one job only – to stay behind that barrel while others came and went, making their way towards safety, until the film-set was ready for the cameraman, and the ‘death’ scene of an innocent child victim of Israeli brutality could be captured.

    What remains most vividly in my mind is the final image of a small child, lying near his father, raising an elbow to peek out towards the cameraman. There are small, lingering, but diminishing possibilities entertained in my head that the child has been ripped up by Israeli bullets, but ninety-five percent of my reasoning tells me that I am watching what I appear clearly to be watching – a child covering his eyes, doing what he has been told to do, peeking out to see when he can be a normal child again instead of an icon, seeing whether Talal has what he needs yet. Beyond that, we have no actual evidence that this child died at all, let alone that the Israelis killed him, let alone that they targetted him deliberately.

    And that is all the evidence that we are left with – putting aside the words of a cameraman who has been caught telling lies about the incident, who shifts his story, who smiles and lies – we are left with the film he has shot, film which undercuts his stoy by showing us a child still alive, hiding, and watching us watching him, probably unaware of the manufactured barbarity for which he is being made the catalyst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *