Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre
War crimesThe primary theme of the film is its assertion of a case for war crimes committed by the United States in its military offensive against Fallujah in Iraq. The film documents the use of weapons based on white phosphorus and other substances similar to napalm
Napalm is a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with gasoline or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, primarily as an anti-personnel weapon...
, such as Mark-77, by American forces.
Interviews with American ex-military personnel who claimed to have been involved in the Fallujah offensive back up the case for the use of weapons by the United States, while reporters who were stationed in Iraq discuss the American government's attempts to suppress the news by covert means.
Incendiary weapons used against personnel and civiliansThe film states that the use of napalm and similar agents was banned by the United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...
in 1980 for use against civilians and also for use against military targets in proximity to civilians.
The use of white phosphorus, as a marker, smokescreen layer or as a weapon, is not banned by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. What is prohibited is the use of WP as a weapon against targets in close proximity to civilians or civilian property. The protocol specifically excludes weapons whose incendiary effect is secondary, such as smoke grenades and tracer rounds, although this has been often read as excluding white phosphorus munitions from this protocol, as well. The United States is among the nations that are parties to the convention but have not signed Protocol III.
The March–April 2005 online Field Artillery magazine has confirmed the use of WP (white phosphorus) in so-called "shake 'n bake" attacks, so the use of white phosphorus is substantiated by US Army sources only for screening and psychological effects: "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out." [P.26]
Graphic visual footage of what are claimed to be WP weapons being fired from helicopters into urban areas is displayed, as well as detailed footage of the remains of those allegedly killed by these weapons, including children and women. The filmmakers interview ex US military soldier turned antiwar activist Jeff Englehart of Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...
who discusses the American use of white phosphorus, nicknamed "Willie Pete" (pre-NATO US phonetic alphabet
A spelling alphabet, radio alphabet, or telephone alphabet is a set of words which are used to stand for the letters of an alphabet. Each word in the spelling alphabet typically replaces the name of the letter with which it starts...
for "WP" - White Phosphorus) by U.S. servicemembers, in built-up areas, and describes the Fallujah offensive as "just a massive killing of Arabs." However, Englehart was not in the Fallujah area at the time.
Following pressure from former Labour MP Alice Mahon
Alice Mahon is a British former Labour Party politician and trade unionist.She was Member of Parliament for Halifax from 1987 until 2005. She is a left-winger who was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group and is a Eurosceptic...
, the British Ministry of Defence confirmed the use of MK77 by US forces during the initial invasion of Iraq http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/foto/documento_ministero.jpg.
Indiscriminate violenceThe film alleges that the US military deliberately targeted Iraqi civilians and children during the Fallujah offensive as part of its campaign to exterminate opposition to its occupation. The film interviews former US Army scout Garret Reppenhagen, also from Colorado, who claims that civilian deaths were common and intentional. However this claim, like some other claims made in this documentary, is unsubstantiated due to the fact that those being interviewed had no part in the fighting in November 2004 in Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....
The US military responded by stating that they gave civilians several days of advanced warning of the assault and urged them to evacuate the city. This was done through loudspeakers and leaflets dropped by helicopter.
CriticismCritics of the film point out that white phosphorus is not considered a "chemical weapon" under the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...
but an incendiary weapon, making the distinction that white phosphorus does not poison but burns its subject. White phosphorus is also commonly used and accepted by many military powers around the world however, the article cited does classify direct skin contact by white phosphorus as either a thermal or chemical burn, and that the chemical burn can "result from several different compounds produced through white phosphorus reactions. These include phosphorus pentoxide which can react with the water in skin and produce corrosive phosphoric acids." Putting the burn in context, the article says "In addition, bathing the area in a bicarbonate solution will neutralize any phosphoric acid that may have been produced. Remaining WP particles should be immediately removed surgically. Removal requires care to prevent further contamination of the person or responders. After complete removal, the patient can be treated as a burn victim."
A subsequent documentary, Star Wars in Iraq by Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta, accounts for human heads being burned, without their bodies, clothes and nearby equipment suffering damage by alleging the use of US experimental weapons. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/25/1442252 These journalists have no technical explanation of how the weapons might have caused the unusual effects, and the quoted article did not reference comments from forensic pathologists or specialists in weapons effects.
- Peter Popham US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah, The IndependentThe IndependentThe Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...
8 November 2005.
- Staff. US 'uses incendiary arms' in Iraq, BBCBBCThe British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
, 8 November 2005
- David Charter Chemical' rounds used against rebel fighters The TimesThe TimesThe Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...
, November 16, 2005
- Philippe Naughton Britain dragged into white phosphorus row The Times Online, November 16, 2005
- How White Phosphorus is deployed: http://cc.aljazeera.net/asset/language/english/gaza-white-phosphorous