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Tape purports to show missile attack on cargo jet

Rumsfeld dismisses video as psychological ploy

The videotape shows a man firing what appears to be a surface-to-air missile, then cuts to images of an apparently damaged cargo plane landing at Baghdad airport.
The videotape shows a man firing what appears to be a surface-to-air missile, then cuts to images of an apparently damaged cargo plane landing at Baghdad airport.

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start quoteWe constantly have people after an incident call up and say, 'We did it. Look at us, aren't we wonderful. We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children.'end quote
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A videotape given to CNN by a French journalist purports to show a damaged cargo plane landing at Baghdad's airport after being hit by a shoulder-fired missile, but officials Tuesday dismissed the tape as a likely propaganda ploy.

The tape, which journalist Sara Daniel obtained in Iraq, shows a man firing what appears to be a Soviet-era surface-to-air missile. Daniel, a correspondent for the French newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur, said she believes the tape came from Iraqi guerrillas she met outside Baghdad.

No aircraft or any impact is visible as the missile streaks into the sky, but the videotape cuts to images of a cargo plane landing at the Baghdad airport. The aircraft appears to be damaged.

A DHL cargo flight was struck by a missile shortly after taking off from the airport Saturday, forcing it to land with a damaged left wing. The incident prompted the U.S.-led occupation government in Iraq to suspend civilian air traffic in and out of Baghdad while an investigation is under way.

The tape's authenticity could not immediately be determined.

Daniel said the tape may be a way for guerrilla groups to demonstrate to those financing their activities that they are putting that money to work.

CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen said the tape appears "unclear and muddy," but if authentic, it allows the guerrillas "to document their actions."

"I guess the point here is obviously getting these tapes out has a very, very good propaganda value," Bergen said.

Asked about the videotape at a Pentagon news briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he knew little about the tape or its significance -- "except it doesn't take a genius to fire off a shoulder-fired missile at an airplane."

"People do that -- take credit," Rumsfeld said. "We constantly have people after an incident call up and say 'We did it. Look at us, aren't we wonderful. We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children.' "

Daniel said the cell she met with includes about 100 fighters, including former Iraqi military officers who say they are opposed to both ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the "foreign fighters" U.S. officials say are attempting to infiltrate Iraq to battle U.S. troops.

"The groups I met with are Iraqis," she said. "They're small groups. They are not well-organized. Sometimes they run into each other doing operations, and they have a lot of weapons -- lots and lots of weapons."

Rumsfeld said claims of responsibility for attacks like Saturday's are part of a strategy of psychological warfare by groups attacking U.S. and allied troops in Iraq.

"The psy-war part of what they're doing has always been a part of their behavior pattern, partly by the targets they pick, partly by trying to have notice called to what they're doing and [taking] pride in that," Rumsfeld said.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor contributed to this report


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