One analyst expressed concern that the shooting would further tarnish the United States' image among Iraqis and other Arabs. News coverage of the shooting overshadowed the Marines' assertion Tuesday that they were in control of Fallouja and needed to deal with only small pockets of resistance.
"Especially after Abu Ghraib, we don't have a level of trust and credibility with many people inside the Arabic and Islamic world," said Charles V. Pena, a military analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute. "This certainly doesn't help us make our case with them."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 19, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Iraq shooting -- Two images on Wednesday's Page A1 that were taken from video footage of a U.S. Marine shooting an apparently unarmed, wounded Iraqi fighter in a Fallouja mosque and then walking away were incorrectly credited to Reuters. The source was NBC.
Hodgett, the Amnesty spokesman, faulted the Bush administration for not strictly adhering to Geneva Convention guidelines in its pursuit of extremists after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
That attitude "filtered downward" through the ranks of the military and "sent a message that the United States was not going to be bound by the full letter and intent of these laws," Hodgett said.
Historically, battlefield commanders have faced the difficult task of motivating troops to kill their adversaries while ensuring the lawful treatment of prisoners.
Before the Marines launched the assault on Fallouja, U.S. military leaders and Iraqi government officials used fiery language. The town was "being held hostage by mugs, thugs, murderers and intimidators," Sattler, the Marine general, told troops at a base where several thousand were preparing for battle.
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told his soldiers that "the people of Fallouja have been taken hostage, and you need to free them from [the insurgents'] grip."
"May they go to hell!" the soldiers shouted.
Allawi replied: "To hell they will go."
Hendren reported from Baghdad and Shogren from Washington. Staff writers Ashraf Khalil in Amman, Jordan, and Maggie Farley in New York and special correspondent Said Rifai in Baghdad contributed to this report.